Chicago Fire Roster Construction: Where do things stand?

The starting XI against FC Dallas on March 19, 2011. How much has changed....

It's been over two months since we took a look at the roster construction of the Chicago Fire and since then the team has made a couple of moves and HTIOT has acquired some detailed information on the senior roster vs. the supplemental roster.  How will Pavel Pardo fit into things?  Where does Sebastian Grazzini fall?  What happened to the roster spots occupied by Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Davis Paul?  All that and more are after the break.

Transactions

1. Kwame Watson-Siriboe loaned to FC Tampa Bay through the end of 2011

On June 3rd, the Fire loaned defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe to FC Tampa Bay.  Watson-Siriboe continues to start every game for his temporary club in the North American Soccer League.  He wasn't even making the bench on Fire game days so this move benefits both parties.  The 26th overall selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft can develop as a player and the Fire can take a look at him at the end of the season.  His $44,000 salary isn't much and Dasan Robinson's tenure as a player with the Fire might be over after the season if the technical staff likes what they see in Kwame as a defender.

2. Gaston Puerari sold to Club Atlas

This June 15th move opened the international spot that the team used to sign Sebastian Grazzini.  Puerari had been contributing but the offer from Mexican club Club Atlas has been referred to as 'too good to be true'.  It's not like the team was winning with Gaston but the move did follow the victory over Columbus that was also the Fire's first win since March 26th.  If Grazzini doesn't pan out and Puerari lights the Mexican Primera on fire, Chicago's front office might have to leak the dollar figure involved in the Uruguayan forward's sale just to placate the fans.  The technical staff might even do so to save their own interests.  For now it's all up in the air and we hope Grazzini is more of an answer than Puerari was.  

3. Davis Paul waived

On June 29th, Chicago waived Davis Paul.  He looked promising in the beginning of the season but faded in the coaches' eyes as the year dragged on.  Paul was on trial with the Seattle Sounders.  The Sounders' Servando Carrasco was a college teammate of Paul's at the University of California so there's partly a connection there.  Just last week Paul signed to play with Chicago Fire Premier until their season ends.  So far the American winger has played in three games and scored 1 goal.

4. Sebastian Grazzini signed

On July 13th, the Argentine midfielder was signed using up the 8th international roster spot the Fire have.  He started writing his Chicago story in this past weekend's game against Manchester United.  He looked good enough in his appearance as a second half substitute.  Hopefully there will be many more games to come.

5. Pavel Pardo signed & Bratislav Ristic released

The Chicago Fire announced today they were parting ways with Bratislav Ristic.  The team immediately used the open international spot to sign Mexican midfielder Pavel Pardo.  Ristic had dressed for all but one game but he only started 5 matches and made 4 late substitutions.  The Serbian's utility wing role could be covered by the now healthy Mike Banner or the dark horse of open tryout winner Pari Pantazopoulos.  Pardo should start every game in the midfield along with Grazzini as long as both are healthy.  We brought in two moderately expensive midfielders and shuffled the roster because the 5-headed central midfield of Logan Pause/Daniel Paladini/Baggio Husidic/Corben Bone/Michael Videira was not getting the job done.  The most interesting wrinkle will be to see if Pause is moved to right back and Jalil Anibaba is sent to the bench.  That is more of a decision for interim head coach Frank Klopas and right now only he knows what is really going to happen.

Senior Roster & Supplemental Roster

Now that all those transactions have been listed and you have been brought up to date if you snoozed at any point this year, let's get into what technical director Frank Klopas has in front of him.  HTIOT has recently obtained the definite order of the Senior Roster and the Supplemental Roster or as the MLS Roster Rules describe it: Salary Budget vs. Off-Budget roster.  We'll dive into money in another post, so for now let's just look at the distinctions.

Roster Slot Team Player Position Roster Type Age
1 CHI Banner Michael D Domestic 26
2 CHI Chaves Diego F International 25
3 CHI Conway Jon GK Domestic 34
4 CHI Cuesta Yamith D International 22
5 CHI Gibbs Cory D Domestic 31
6 CHI Grazzini Sebastian F International 30
7 CHI Husidic Baggio M Domestic 28
8 CHI Maric Marko** M International 25
9 CHI Mikulic Josip D International 25
10 CHI Nazarit Cristian F International 20
11 CHI Nyarko Patrick F Domestic 25
12 CHI Oduro Dominic F Domestic 25
13 CHI Paladini Daniel M Domestic 26
14 CHI Pappa Marco M International 23
15 CHI Pardo Pavel M International 34
16 CHI Pause Logan M Domestic 29
17 CHI Robinson Dasan D Domestic 27
18 CHI Segares Gonzalo D Domestic 28
19 CHI Videira Michael M Domestic 25
20 CHI Watson-Siriboe Kwame D Domestic 24
Supplemental Roster
21 CHI Anibaba Jalil D Domestic 22
22 CHI Barouch Orr F Reserve/Domestic 19
23 CHI Bone Corben M Generation adidas /Domestic 22
24 CHI Dufty Alec GK Reserve/Domestic 24
25 CHI Ferrari Gabriel F Domestic 22
26 CHI Johnson Sean GK Generation adidas /Domestic 22
27 CHI Kinney Steven** D Domestic 23
28 CHI Pantazopoulos Pari D Reserve/Domestic 22
29 CHI Pineda Victor M Home Grown Player/Domestic 18
30 CHI OPEN

 

The first thing you might notice is that Kwame Watson-Siriboe is still on the senior roster.  For now, loans do not free up a roster spot in MLS.  The idea is to get Watson-Siriboe regular playing time, not necessarily bring in another player.  Open roster spots do come from the '**'s I placed next to Marko Maric and Steve Kinney's names.  As long as those players are on the DL, the Fire can add another domestic player to the team.  Davis Paul being waived also opened up a spot on the supplemental roster. 

Practical Application

The chances of the team utilizing the roster spots left open by Marko Maric and Steven Kinney are small.  If and when either player returns to health, the team would have to do some more shuffling.  Most talented players worth signing are looking for stable situations and at least a one year contract.  There's just too many variables to make it an attractive enough option for any player or the Chicago Fire themselves.  Never say never but this is something to take into consideration when talking about another signing or two.

The spot left open by the waiving of Davis Paul is much more intriguing but it has its own considerations attached.  Only three players on Supplemental Rosters around the league are over the age of 25 (Zach Scott, Stephen Keel, and Steve Purdy).  In each player's case, they had limited previous experience in MLS and came from a lower league based in the United States.  Only four players that aren't Generation adidas or Home Grown Players make more than $44,000 in base salary according to the numbers provided by the MLS Players Union (Brian Perk, Gabriel Ferrari, Cody Arnoux, and John Rooney).  In each player's case, they had been signed to a contract with a professional soccer team before signing with MLS.  There is nothing specifically stated in the MLS Roster Rules about age or salary maximums for supplemental roster spots but given the common experiences of the outliers, there could be some clauses in the collective bargaining agreement between the MLS Players Union and Major League Soccer that dictate players with certain professional service time need to be upgraded to the senior roster.  Only the old collective bargaining agreement is linked on the MLSPU website so we'll have to wait for a leak or for MLSPU to post it in order to know for sure.

Even if it is wide open to sign any soccer player in the planet to a MLS supplemental roster spot, you can see it would be way outside the MLS norm for the Fire to bring in an immediate impact player thanks to a supplemental roster spot being open.  Players like Perk, our own Ferrari, Arnoux, and Rooney are there because they need more time to develop even if they were able to negotiate higher salaries in their talks with MLS.  Supplemental roster spots are best used on players like Victor Pineda who could be good for a very long time.  A trade and/or another player release are possible but I suspect the players we have today are the players that we are going to have to trust to lead us into the battle for the 2011 U.S. Open Cup trophy and the mountain high climb to get into the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs.

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