1. I thought today would be a good time to mention a few blurb about the Fire. Nothing ground breaking, but something to feed your Fire in the cold winter months. I want to start with a shout out to Brendan Hannan, Jeff Crandall, and everyone else involved with the Chicago Fire that makes the Fire PR world go 'round. They were just awarded the Team PR Award for the year by footiebusiness. Take a look at the article here (complete with a HTIOT shout out too!). Congrats to Brendan, Jeff, and the rest of the team for all of your incredible hard work. It is greatly appreciated!
2. For those of you on Twitter, MLS Rookie of the Year Austin Berry is now on Twitter. You can find him with the handle
@aberr22. I just gave him a follow and you should too.
3. Transfers, transfers, transfers. If you also follow an international team (Serie A, Ligue 1, La Liga, EPL, etc), you know how crazy and annoying transfer windows can be. A large majority (seemingly 99.99999% of links) have no substance or actual journalistic facts. Frequently it is just newspaper writers making up (or embellishing) stories to sell papers. This isn't nearly the phenomenon in MLS as it elsewhere. Despite this, the Fire have had no shortage of interesting links the past few days. Some seem plausible, but most far fetched. Despite the audacity of some of these links, I figured it wouldn't hurt to throw some rumors out for those of you that may not have seen them. Of course every day will likely bring new rumors and conversations. I will also give hat tips to those that first made me aware of the various rumors. Here is what I have seen just in the last day or two:
-From a tweet by @fugexlac, a Russian source sited that winger David Bentley (of Tottenham Hotspur notoriety) was in deep talks with the Fire. I tried finding the actual report but was unsuccessful. From the bits I was able to gather, it seems Bentley is not happy in Russia and could move elsewhere. He has been linked with MLS before. While this is an intriguing rumor, there are a couple of huge stumbling block here. First, the cost. He wouldn't come cheap despite not doing much at all since his Blackburn days in 2006. I really can't see us taking a monetary risk like that, especially after a few of our more recent well publicized busts (Nery Castillo, Robayo, etc).
The other part of this equation is where would he play? One would assume a player like that would have a starting role as long as he earned it. That would mean either Patrick Nyarko or Alvaro Fernandez would be misplaced. There is NO WAY that Nyarko is not out on the pitch for us barring injury or rest. For my money Patrick is the most valuable player on our team right now, bar NONE. So that would leave Flaco. Great right?
It's hard to find a Fire fan right now that wants Flaco back next year. The only problem is what to do with him. As near as I can figure, he is under contract through next year. As Adam Merges and I were discussing (@firefan1998), the problem with getting rid of Flaco is that his value is pretty low right now. That's not to say that teams couldn't use him, but how many teams would pick him up as a DP right now? Personally, I don't think he fits our system and something needs to be figured out. But having a DP sit the bench? Doesn't seem very likely, especially after the aforementioned recent busts. I don't think there is much substance to this rumor and there is too much risk for my liking. Again it is an interesting name to have linked with the Fire. The more the Fire name is out there linked to players (read visibility), the better in my book whether they are true or not.
-Grafite. No, I am not talking about a type of pencil. I did a fanpost about him awhile back. He is an aging striker that seems to have gas left in the tank. In recent days, I have seen various sources still linking him heavily with MLS again. The Fire could certainly use more goals next year so the fit is there. The problem? There would likely be quite a bit of competition for his services. What team doesn't want a veteran goalscorer that can still get the job done? And that also begs the question about the front line. We all know Chris Rolfe is best up top. But what about Sherjill MacDonald? Any time you have the chance to upgrade the team you have to consider it, but I think Sherjill still has value to the Fire. There is no doubt that we need more goals though.
I think Grafite would be a welcome fit but the question again becomes cost. He would likely not come cheap, but it's about time to spend some of that "Keane like money" we have been hearing about. I don't want it spent just to spend it. But, we need to do all we can to find an impact player this offseason to take us to the next level. And rather than taking risks like Castillo, Puppo, or Robayo, it would be nice to see that money spent on a proven commodity. While it's hard to gauge how most international players will do in their first MLS season, Grafite has a pedigree of scoring in recent years that most players don't have. I think it behooves the Fire to definitely take a flyer on him.
-The next rumor I just saw a little while ago. Hat tip to Ben Burton on this one. Kostas Katsouranis, Greek defensive midfielder and free agent was mentioned in this article with the Fire. While the translation isn't necessarily the most clear or promising, the right terms in a deal can sway doubts to be sure. Logan will obviously be back, and I expect Pardo to be ready to go too. But Pavel had some injury issues and isn't getting any younger. I don't think he can handle a full season but at the same time he is too good to be on the bench unless he is hurt or in need of rest. While this is also an interesting name, I don't see it as very likely at this point.
As you can see, there are already some pretty entertaining rumors out there. Frank and co. are busy scouting options and evaluating players. While I haven't heard anything firm about incoming transfers, action should pick up in the next month or so. There are definite holes to fill and the team has some work to do. Here's to a crazy next month or two...
4. Going off the last paragraph, it would seem the Fire are beginning to tap some of these "strategic alliances" they have created. As I have mentioned previously, this can only be a good thing in my mind. Examples of this are the training stints with Atletico Madrid that Austin Berry and Jalil Anibaba are currently embarked upon. This is quite the tool for learning and growth for the youngsters. Hopefully they can take advantage of the opportunities. Although the Atletico partnership is the most well know one, the Fire have created bonds with other world renowned clubs as well. The Fire's own Jeff Crandall has a look at the other clubs that we call partners. I figured it would be good to link to the article to see what sort of resources the Fire now have at their disposal.
That's all for now folks. Part 3 of my roster analysis (Midfield) should be up in the next 2-3 days. Until then, the countdown to the 2013 season continues. It can't come soon enough.