Otto Greule Jr
We all knew the Alvaro Fernandez loan was coming. It had gotten to Waiting for Godot type levels. Even Chicago-Fire.com Editor Jeff Crandall wrote articles with the implication that Fernandez was on his way out.
Well, the Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced today that the club has loaned Alvaro "Flaco" Fernandez to Qatari side Al Rayyan. The 27-year-old Uruguayan World Cup veteran will join Al Rayyan on a six-month loan.
Now that it's here, it's not so much that it happened but what Pozzo (or Lucky? Vladimir? Estragon?) said that makes the story for me.
"Flaco was interested in exploring options abroad in search of national team playing time and this situation allows him that opportunity," said Fire President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon. "We wish Flaco the best in Qatar and with Al Rayyan."
Fernandez thinks that playing in Qatar will improve his search for national team playing time? So because he'll start playing now instead of in 50 days or so? I suppose I can understand that. However he'll be flying from Qatar to Uruguay if and when he gets called up. That's brutal.
Last week I took a look at what the midfield options will look like without Fernandez in the mix.
Klopas could use a 4-4-2 every week with the non-Nyarko wing position having the 'kitchen sink' thrown at. Everyone (Alex, Oduro, Corben Bone, Wells Thompson, Victor Pineda) gets a chance at locking down the wing spot until they don't meet Klopas' liking. It sounds chaotic but competition for starting spots is a positive thing. If nothing fits, hey, Alvaro Fernandez appears to be on schedule to return from this loan in July. Fernandez could be somewhat of an ace in the hole that way. Now the loan to the Qatari club may very well be a step ladder to getting rid of Fernandez. It could also be a way to collect some cash and at the same time work out some other players in the lineup all while keeping a reinforcement lined up if options B-through-Z fail.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing for a club's roster turnover. In some ways it could be genius. I'd argue that left wing is the team's biggest weakness. Left wing is at least the biggest question mark going into the season. If head coach Frank Klopas experiments with Chris Rolfe, Alex, Dominic Oduro, Victor Pineda, and more, he can get down a pattern. He could even loan out Corben Bone to a NASL or USLPRO team and get even more potential Chicago Fire left wingers playing around the world at the same time. If left wing hasn't sorted itself out either internally or internationally during the summer transfer window, well then, hello Alvaro Fernandez returning from Qatar around July 25, 2013.
Fernandez would have to want to come back. I'm not sure he would want to if is going off to Qatar. Then again maybe he'll be begging to come back after being in Qatar for 6 months. Time will tell. Based on how Fernandez failed to integrate well with the team in 2012 and given the multiple possibilities for left wing, I don't think Fernandez will be missed in the first half of the season.