[UPDATED] Chicago Fire Sign German International Arne Friedrich

Arne Friedrich

From the Chicago Fire press release announcing the signing of Arne Friedrich:

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced today the team has signed German defender Arne Friedrich. The 32-year-old will be added to the Fire roster upon the receipt of his P1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC). Per Major League Soccer and club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Arne is a talented defender that brings strength, experience and depth to our backline," said Chicago Fire head coach Frank Klopas. "His international credentials and track record in the German Bundesliga give our young players another great professional example to learn from."

Some thoughts after the jump.

The Fire address the need for a veteran CB with the signing of Arne Friedrich. Friedrich is a very experienced international. 82 caps for the German National Team to go along with 231 Appearances for Hertha Berlin. He became the Hertha captain in 2004 and gave up the armband in 2010 after a transfer to Wolfsburg.

After the departure of Chicago CB's Josip Mikulic and Yamith Cuesta, the Fire were in need of some experienced depth on the backline. This more than covers that need as long as Friedrich can stay healthy. Make no doubt about this that is the big question here. Wolfsburg cancelled his contract due to a back injury that almost forced him into retirement. It is the sole reason why a player of his caliber is available to the Fire.

If he was healthy and just out of favor due to other reasons this would be a signing of the highest order for Chicago. Considering the overly physical style of MLS play and Arne's history of back issues one has to wonder if this signing is going to pan out. I understand why the Fire made the move. It is hard to pass up on a player of this caliber. He fits into the Fire's strategy of signing international players who were well respected Captains at their former clubs (Pardo, Robayo). He could possibly open doors to other Bundesliga veterans (much like Pardo). If healthy he will be a excellent defender to have on the roster just for his ability to teach the youngsters. I get it. Still there is a bit of a risk here. Personally I agree with the Fire's FO that the risk is worth taking.

UPDATE: I had the chance to speak briefly with Frank on the phone today. Here are a couple of things he had to say:

Regarding Friedrich's role: "He will improve our backline and serve as a good mentor to younger players that can gain and learn much from him."

Position: "He is clearly a Center Back in this league"

On the status of his injury: "He is fit and ready to go." "He is cleared to play." "I saw him play after the injury with the national team, a world cup qualifier against Austria I believe" (Editor's note: This was a Euro 2012 qualifier that happened on 6/3/2011 vs Austria. Friedrich had an OG and an assist in 90 minutes of play).

How the signing came together: "Sometimes things come from relationships built over the years." "This did not come from that trip (the Pardo/Klopas Germany trip)."

Time table for integration into the squad: "He is going to need a bit of time to get to know his new teammates."

Regarding Josip Mikulic leaving the squad before training camp: "We were caught off guard."

About Yamith Cuesta leaving the squad: "He had a loan situation that he tried to clear up. Home club wanted a lot and that makes it difficult for the player to stay."

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