Flaco's time in Chicago (short as it may be) appears to be over. As Don (@ugly11) and Guillermo Rivera first reported earlier today, Alvaro's time in the Windy City has ended prematurely. MReichert also had a Fanpost on this very topic just hours ago. I wanted to wait until late tonight to post this to give details time to emerge. After the initial breaking of the news, there hasn't been a whole lot of development beyond the initial reports. The story is that Flaco is heading to Al Rayyan in Qatar to play on a 6 month loan. Although Alvaro has a full year left on his Fire contract, it's pretty hard to imagine a scenario in which he returns to the fire at some point in 2013.
Now, I will be the first to admit that I was fairly critical of Flaco last season. I feel this was rightly deserved given his overall body of work in Chicago. Granted, he needed time to adjust to a new team and new city, but I felt that he had more than enough time to do that in 2012. Despite how things turned out, I think the initial trade was a good move by Frank. In most cases, a move like that is going to pay off. Unfortunately for the Fire, this was a rare case where 2012 couldn't have gone much worse for Alvaro in terms of struggling. While we can debate all day about the cause for the issues, it's obvious that he just couldn't put it together for the Men in Red. Despite some flashes of good play, overall fans will remember missed sitters, bad passes, and too many turnovers.
I will admit I would have liked to see what 2013 brought despite his 2012 struggles. Maybe with a full pre-season, Flaco could have gotten into a groove and played like the player most MLS fans know from his time in Seattle. This is a moot point now as it would seem his roster spot (and spot as a DP) is now vacated. Considering that Puppo's DP spot is also coming free (hopefully at least), the Fire have some room to bring players aboard. The questions is, will they? In my opinion, it would be a pretty grave mistake to make the moves we have today and not fill those spots. Yes, we have the draft coming up but that's not an adequate replacement of depth in midfield despite who we draft. We need players that are MLS ready and can contribute right now.
This brings to light the question about depth on the wing. With Flaco gone, that is now a paper thin position along with pretty much all of the back line. I don't have to tell you that we can't fix this alone in the draft. No, other measures are going to have to be taken. It would seem the popular sentiment at this time involves Dominic Oduro playing out on the wing (assuming no other major moves are made). Although Dom CAN play out there, I don't know if that's the best solution. We all know Dom isn't happy with being relegated to the bench. But, in my view, he is more valuable using his speed later in a game rather than pushing him out to a wing position that is just not optimal for him.
Oduro has something that Nyarko also has- speed. However, he doesn't have the passing touch/ball skills of Nyarko, nor does he have the tracking back/defensive capabilities of Patty. I just can't see Dom as an ideal option at wing with this team. This throws a huge question mark into a Fire roster ahead of the SuperDraft. I am hoping that Frank has a move or two up his sleeve before pre-season camp starts. The more time new acquisitions have time to gel with the tram, the better. Especially in pre-season when results don't matter.
In another bit of news, Chicago-Fire.com editor (congrats on the promotion) Jeff Crandall has created something truly outstanding. Called the TrueCar Player Registry, Jeff has tirelessly compiled a database of every Fire player and statistic ever. That's right. For all you stat nerds out there (or for anyone that has ever had a friendly debate about Fire players and stats), your prayers have been answered. Take a look at this database and salivate.
I don't think it can be overstated how much work this took. I wanted to give kudos to Jeff and thank him for a job well done. Now all Fire fans have quite the tool at their disposal. And this is something unprecedented in MLS. No other team has something like this. It's nice to have something like this to supplant the rich history of the Fire.