After two days of medical exams in Chicago, the Fire headed south to begin training camp at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla. During the 10-day training camp from Jan. 20-30 in the Fire will begin preparations for the 2013 season with initial preseason matches against Florida Gulf Coast University on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 3:00 p.m. CT and the Columbus Crew on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
"It was important for us to have Corben, Alex and Michael return in 2013," said Fire President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon. "They are skillful and versatile players that provide us with depth in a variety of positions."
The Fire also announced that they have declined to re-sign Guillermo Franco. All of these moves were expected but it is nice to see them officially in the books. Alex's return, Franco's departure, and Pavel Pardo's retirement mean the team officially has two open international slots to work with. For more on what these roster options mean, check out the earlier piece on roster turnover. For more on what the open international slots mean, check out the earlier piece on the state of international slots for the Fire.
Chicago-Fire.com Editor Jeff Crandall might be in Florida enjoying the sun while we freeze in Chicago but he isn't taking it easy. Be sure to check out the most recent video with trainer Fire Strength and Conditioning coach Tony Jouaux talking club fitness.
UPDATE------------------ 2:00 PM CST
In news that is more important than everything above, the Chicago Fire have announced that Arne Friedrich now has a green card. On Friday, I wrote this:
This is a good time to mention that several other Fire players are in the same boat as Lindpere. Alvaro Fernandez, Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro, Maicon Santos, and Gonzalo Segares were all born outside of the United States. All five of them have green cards. The Uruguayan-born Fernandez might have signed his loan deal with a new club in Qatar but that won't open up an international slot because Seattle has the foresight and organizational strength to get their foreign players green cards.
If Chicago is committed to keeping MacDonald and Tornaghi on a long-term basis, yesterday was the time to get their green-card process started. The player must want a green card and the team must spend some extra time and resources making it happen, but the benefits are huge down the line.
Well done and major props to the Fire for working on Friedrich's green card. This makes is much easier for Friedrich to in fact end his soccer career as a member of the Chicago Fire... especially if he is able to go another season in 2014.
In 2013, it means Chicago now has 3 open international slots to work with. Frank Klopas and the front office are setting up the dominoes. Watch for more moves to come.