As you are all now well aware, Alvaro Fernandez has been acquired by the Chicago Fire for allocation money. This can only be described as a huge boost for the Fire organization. Fernandez has been a mainstay in the very good Seattle offensive attack over the last few years. His production has fallen off from last season to this season. Only 2 goals and 2 assists so far this year. Some of that can be attributed to the uncertainty about where he was going to end up. A transfer/loan to Deportivo Cali was heavily rumored but fell through earlier this week. He had also suffered a quad injury late in April.
The Sounders desire to move Fernandez was because they wanted to acquire another DP but needed to clear up DP slot as they already had three. Fernandez is/was well liked by the Sounders faithful but was regarded as not providing much value for his Designated Player tag. His slow start to the 2012 season also allowed the Sounders brass to move him as his production was not what they desired.
From the Fire perspective taking this "gamble" represents good value. Fernandez is 26, relatively cheap for a DP ($300k reportedly, DP status due to transfer fee dollars), and signed through at least the end of next season if not longer. Another helpful part of this deal is that Fernandez counts as a domestic player due to his green card status. This was a very easy deal for the Fire to make for this year and the long term.
When on form Fernandez is a good finisher and creator. He has the ability to be the type of player the Fire has lacked since Grazzini went back to Argentina. I'm not referencing playing the same position. I mean a game changing midfielder. Fernandez will most likely sit out on the left wing. He is also capable of flipping over the right side of the field which he did on occasion, typically late in games. Alvaro can score with both his head and foot (usually the left). In his last game with Seattle against NY he had three shots. All near the spot. He scored with his foot on a tremendous volley (seriously find the highlights of this goal) and missed twice with his head. Yes that's right the Fire just acquired a winger who is a bit of an aerial threat.
Recently Fernandez has been in good form for the Sounders. He put in good shifts over the past few weeks against New York and Colorado, scoring in both games. That is potentially good news for a Fire team that honestly needs a bit of offensive quality to start showing up. In Seattle's game against the Red Bulls, he had a definite impact throughout the match. He did disappear for a few stretches but that had more to do with Seattle looking to push the ball via their central midfielders than working the wings. I would expect Fernandez to receive significantly more touches and time on the ball here than he did in Seattle.
His presence also allows the Fire to tinker a bit more with their formation. You could see more of an attacking based lineup considering the scoring talent that now is available from the wing. Frank has some new toys to play with. I would really like to see Frank tinker with a formation that can be more of a 4-3-3. While that isn't likely one can dream.
Whenever you get the opportunity to acquire a good player within the league it is usually worth the opportunity. This move wasn't just made to win now. Marco Pappa will be somewhere in Europe next year. Pavel Pardo just turned 36 years old. The Fire are going to need good two way midfielders that are adept at the attacking ball possession style the Frank Klopas likes to play. Fernandez fits that bill.
All in all a great move for the Fire. As Fernandez has more time with the team, I'll be back with a closer look at the player and how he is fitting in with his new club.