Who are the Fire? Part 2 of a 2-Part Story

This photo taken on July 31, 2010 before a regular season game against D.C. United features eight players that are still with Real Salt Lake - George Frey

The second part of the story. There is such sweet sorrow in parting.

In the first part of this story, I examined the Carryover Minutes for the Chicago Fire and Real Salt Lake in the years between 2009-2013. I then added up all of those numbers to come up with a full list of minutes compiled by every players that put on a Chicago Fire or Real Salt Lake jersey between those years. Now that these numbers have been established, let's breakdown player acquisition by four categories: SuperDraft, Trades, Miscellaneous (MLS, you magnificent bastard), and International. Players that are still currently with the Chicago Fire or Real Salt Lake are bolded throughout the charts below.

SuperDraft

The Fire's best talent has been provided almost exclusively from the SuperDraft. I will lend a great deal of credit here because Chicago has typically had middle of the 1st round draft picks and they often still come away with superior quality.

2007: Bakary Soumare (No. 2)

2008: Patrick Nyarko (No. 7)

2009: Forced to trade No. 13 overall pick to Toronto FC in Brian McBride trade

2010: Corben Bone (No. 13)

2011: Jalil Anibaba (No. 9)

2012: Austin Berry (No. 9)

2013: Traded the No. 11 overall pick to Colorado in the Jeff Larentowicz trade

Logan Pause was selected 24th overall in 2003. Chris Rolfe was selected 29th overall and Gonzalo Segares was selected 35th overall in 2005. Sean Johnson was selected 51st overall in the 2010 SuperDraft. Outside of Corben Bone, that's some good high drafting mixed in with some late round gems.

Chicago Fire Player MINS Acquired Method
Patrick Nyarko 10290 SuperDraft
Logan Pause 10242 SuperDraft
Gonzalo Segares 8656 SuperDraft
Sean Johnson 8076 SuperDraft
Jalil Anibaba 7536 SuperDraft
Chris Rolfe 5333 SuperDraft
Austin Berry 4230 SuperDraft
C.J. Brown 3794 SuperDraft
Baggio Husidic 2741 SuperDraft
Bakary Soumare 2534 SuperDraft
Dasan Robinson 2525 SuperDraft
Mike Banner 1961 SuperDraft
Peter Lowry 1663 SuperDraft
Steven Kinney 1143 SuperDraft
Kwame Watson-Siriboe 681 SuperDraft
Corben Bone 677 SuperDraft
Calen Carr 628 SuperDraft
Daniel Woolard 409 SuperDraft
Hunter Jumper 228 SuperDraft
Yazmid Atouba 55 SuperDraft
Davis Paul 45 SuperDraft
SuperDraft Total & Average Mins
73447 3497

The only issue here is the SuperDraft is not creating a huge advantage for Chicago over other teams. The Fire take Anibaba at No. 9 in 2011, Houston drafts Kofi Sarkodie at No. 7 and Will Bruin at No. 11 that year. The Dynamo scored late in 2008 when they selected Geoff Cameron No. 42 overall. Kansas City selected Chance Myers at No.1 and Roger Espinoza at No. 11 in 2008, Matt Besler at No. 8 and Graham Zusi at No. 23 in 2009, and C.J. Sapong at No. 10 in 2011. Bone aside, the Fire's draft record is solid but it isn't miles ahead of the competition (Chicago selected Baggio Husidic three spots before Zusi in 2009).

There's only a slight edge here. The MLS SuperDraft is designed as the most democratic player acquisition in Major League Soccer because every team is assigned a spot in the order of worst to best in the MLS regular season or MLS playoffs. Every team sees the same combine of players that are made up primarily of early 20's players that played college soccer.

The Fire are not immune to making the occasional questionable move like including the No. 11 overall pick in the 2013 draft in the trade to acquire now 30 year-old Jeff Larentowicz from the Colorado Rapids. The Rapids selected midfielder 22-year old midfielder Dillon Powers with that pick. Powers has only gone on to become the consensus Rookie of the Year.

Real Salt Lake Player MINS Acquired Method
Tony Beltran 9730 SuperDraft
Chris Schuler 3752 SuperDraft
Collen Warner 1532 SuperDraft
Jean Alexandre 1296 SuperDraft
Sebastian Velasquez 1187 SuperDraft
Devon Sandoval 704 SuperDraft
Kyle Reynish 685 SuperDraft
Chris Seitz 360 SuperDraft
Emiliano Bonfigli 288 SuperDraft
Jeff Attinella 309 SuperDraft
Raphael Cox 208 SuperDraft
David Horst 86 SuperDraft
John Stertzer 33 SuperDraft
Tino Nunez 18 SuperDraft
SuperDraft Total & Average Mins
20188 1442

Real Salt Lake has not had great success in the draft but they haven't had early draft picks either. The one time RSL did, they selected Tony Beltran No. 3 in the 2008 SuperDraft. Chris Schuler provided RSL with some late value at No. 39 overall in 2010. Sebastian Velasquez was No. 36 in 2012 and Devon Sandoval went No. 29th in this year's draft. Those 3 have a long way to go to being on Beltran's level but they are getting regular playing time on a team that is currently in a playoff position in MLS. Our recent second round picks Lucky Mkosana, Hunter Jumper, and Yazid Atouba can't say that about regular playing time or playoff position.

Now seems like a good time to mention that Lucky Mkosana just wrapped up a season with the USL PRO's Harrisburg City Islanders. Mkosana finished 4th in USL PRO in points and scored 10 goals in the last 8 games of the regular season.

The Chicago Fire are not A+ students here (A- sure, no lower than B+) but they are good. It will be interesting to see if they decide to take the pen out of their hands this year and trade for a veteran again.

Trades

On the topic of trades, here's where Salt Lake really has made their advantage count. I have praised the Dominic Oduro for Calen Carr swap before but that's nothing compared to the trades that netted Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, and Chris Wingert for RSL.

Real Salt Lake Player MINS Acquired Method
Nick Rimando 12365 Trade
Kyle Beckerman 10804 Trade
Chris Wingert 10220 Trade
Luis Gil 4450 Trade
Robbie Findley 4147 Trade
Yura Movsisyan 1731 Trade
Kwame Watson-Siriboe 1548 Trade
Joao Plata 1336 Trade
Pablo Campos 834 Trade
Arturo Alvarez 724 Trade
Aaron Maund 270 Trade
Brandon McDonald 180 Trade
Justin Braun 87 Trade
Trade Total & Average Mins
48696 4058

Are the Fire turning the corner on trades? You could make that argument.

Just this year the Fire acquired Jeff Larentowicz, Joel Lindpere, Bakary Soumare, Dilly Duka, the rights of first refusal to Robbie Rogers, the No. 30 overall pick in the 2013 draft (Yazid Atouba) and Quincy Amarikwa in exchange for the No. 11 overall pick in the 2013 draft, two 2013 international roster spots, Dominic Oduro, allocation money, and a 2014 Supplemental Draft Selection. Depending on how you want to count it, the right of first refusal to Robbie Rogers netted the team Mike Magee. Soumare and Magee are not listed below because Soumare was originally acquired through the SuperDraft and Magee was a 'rights trade'. Either way, that's good business right there.

Chicago Fire Player MINS Acquired Method
Dominic Oduro 4427 Trade
Dan Gargan 2539 Trade
Jeff Larentowicz 1997 Trade
Yamith Cuesta 1681 Trade
Justin Mapp 1565 Trade
Joel Lindpere 1350 Trade
Dilly Duka 1216 Trade
Freddie Ljungberg 1200 Trade
Alvaro Fernandez 943 Trade
Wells Thompson 585 Trade
Jon Conway 540 Trade
Quincy Amarikwa 207 Trade
Trade Total & Average Mins
18250 1521

We need to wait and see long-term how many minutes these players put up for the team though. I thought the separate trades to acquire Yamith Cuesta and Dan Gargan were great until both players didn't stick around very long with the team. This area has potential for Chicago. Hopefully they stick with the players they acquired and continue to be active on the market.

Miscellaneous

MLS Roster Rules are an absolute muck at times. The right of first refusal for Robbie Rogers demonstrates that. There are all sorts of lotteries, drafts, and general barriers (12 subsections under ‘Player Acquisition Methods’) that prevent the cool teams from stockpiling domestic talent and former MLS players. If you could sign to live in Columbus or New York, many would choose New York. Even more will pick New York if that means they have a chance to compete for trophies instead of joining a rebuilding team.

You can complain all you want about the rules but they are what they are. Here we can see Real Salt Lake has been very aggressive in obtaining players stuck in the cracks of MLS acquisition. Some of this has been luck (a lottery for Nat Borchers) but most of it has been talent evaluation and taking a chance on a player they identified and then cultivated.

Real Salt Lake Players MINS Acquired Method
Nat Borchers 12219 Allocation Lottery
Will Johnson 8635 Rights Trade
Ned Grabavoy 8125 Waivers
Andy Williams 4612 Expansion Draft
Clint Mathis 1926 Rights Trade
Yordany Alvarez 1666 Lower League
Paulo Junior 1381 Lower League
Jonny Steele 1179 Unsigned Trialist
Abdoulie Mansally 1033 Unsigned Trialist
Lovel Palmer 940 Re-Entry Draft
Carlos Salcedo 721 Homegrown
Khari Stephenson 718 Unsigned Trialist
Rauwshan McKenzie 404 Waivers
Josh Saunders 231 Unsigned Trialist
Artur Aghasyan 98 Lower League
Cole Grossman 77 Waivers
Cody Arnoux 69 Allocation Lottery
Blake Wagner 63 Waivers
Chris Agorsor 10 Waivers
Misc. Total & Average Mins
44107 2321

Chicago has had more mixed success with less opportunities taken. Brian McBride and Mike Magee wanted to come back to Chicago where they were raised. The Fire successfully plucked Daniel Paladini from a lower domestic soccer league. Cory Gibbs and Jon Busch were successfully taken a chance on even if they ended their time with the Fire in equally tragic if not totally identical ways.

Chicago Fire Player MINS Acquired Method
Brian McBride 3567 Rights Trade
Daniel Paladini 2967 Lower League
Jon Busch 2700 Waived
Cory Gibbs 2473 Re-Entry Draft
Tim Ward 2220 Waived
Andrew Dykstra 1530 Unsigned Trialist
Brandon Prideaux 1414 Waived
Mike Magee 1054 Rights Trade
Michael Videira 617 Lower League
Maicon Santos 379 Re-Entry Draft
Stefan Dimitrov 191 Unsigned Trialist
Shaun Francis 90 Lower League
Gabriel Ferrari 17 Unsigned Trialist
Misc. Total & Average Mins
19129 1594

I’m willing to give the Fire a passing grade here except for the fact that Chicago has had a wide open roster at times. You saw the minutes above. Real Salt Lake’s lineup has been remarkably stable for the past 5 years. Chicago has had temporarily stable lineups but the roster turnover has been gigantic. If anything you would expect it to be Chicago taking more chances on these kind of waivers/re-entry draft/ lower league/ type moves considering they have more open spots to give players minutes.

When we move to the last and final category, players acquired internationally, we see Chicago has most likely been giving minutes to these kind of players instead.

International

Chicago Fire Player MINS Acquired Method
Marco Pappa 8214 International
Wilman Conde 3633 International
Pavel Pardo 3343 International
John Thorrington 1971 International
Sebastian Grazzini 1883 International
Arne Friedrich 1832 International
Diego Chaves 1699 International
Alex 1663 International
Sherjill MacDonald 1612 International
Krzysztof Krol 1565 International
Cuauhtemoc Blanco 1452 International
Bratislav Ristic 1105 International
Josip Mikulic 1038 International
Collins John 901 International
Orr Barouch 848 International
Paolo Tornaghi 810 International
Gaston Puerari 808 International
Cristian Nazarit 624 International
Deris Umanzor 502 International
Nery Castillo 487 International
Rafael Robayo 439 International
Federico Puppo 216 International
Arevalo Rios 180 International
Juan Luis Anangono 161 International
Julio Martinez 108 International
Guillermo Franco 43 International
Marko Maric 19 International
International Total & Average Min
37156 1376

There have been several missteps in this category. Since 2009, the Chicago Fire have given minutes to 27 players that were signed off the international market. The most successful ones still with the team are Alex and Paolo Tornaghi. Both Alex and Tornaghi are currently backups. Marco Pappa, Wilman Conde, and Pavel Pardo are the only 3 Fire players here that have logged over 2,000 minutes with the club since 2009. Pappa and Conde were both acquired before the 2009 season. I would like to get excited about Arevalo Rios and Juan Luis Anangono but given the team's track record, it seems like it is better for one's mental health to expect the worse and then get really, really excited if they perform. Also don't get too attached if that does happen because it looks like the players won't be around for too long.

Real Salt Lake Player MINS Acquired Method
Javier Morales 9028 International
Jamison Olave 8314 International
Fabian Espindola 7414 International
Alvaro Saborio 7297 International
Robbie Russell 5959 International
Olmes Garcia 754 International
Nelson Gonzalez 504 International
Terakazu Tanaka 325 International
Rachid El Khalifi 178 International
Luis Miguel Escalada 126 International
David Viana 27 International
Ian Joy 7 International
International Total & Average Min
39933 3328

Real Salt Lake hasn't always got it right but they have found players that are legendary in the organization. Javier Morales, Jamison Olave, Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio, and Robbie Russell are the exact kind of players you want to unearth on the international market. Perhaps the best summary of Real Salt Lake's international moves and the Chicago Fire's international moves is in the cases of Cristian Nazarit and Olmes Garcia.

Cristian Nazarit signed with the Chicago Fire on May 4, 2011. He was 20 years old, 6'1, 170 pounds, a forward, and was previously playing in Colombia with Independiente Santa Fe. He was signed on a free transfer. Nazarit went on to score 2 goals and have no assists in 624 minutes of regular season play. After working his way into fitness, the Colombian started in 4 of his first 5 games before making 2 other starts and 5 substitution appearances. Nazarit did not play in the Fire's last 9 games of 2011. In the press release for his signing, the front office staff provided a quote:

"Cristian brings a wealth of talent and experience to the Chicago Fire," said Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas. "The Colombian target forward has pace, strikes the ball well and is able to play with his back to goal. His size and offensive abilities make him a positive addition to our team."

The press release for Nazarit's signing also mentioned that Marko Maric had been placed on the disabled list after he suffered what would be a season-ending injury in the April 14 match against the Portland Timbers. Maric came into that game as a substitute and only played 19 minutes before having to be substituted out himself. Nazarit was released on December 7, 2011. The press release for Nazarit's departure also announced the release of forward Gabriel Ferrari who played 17 minutes across 3 regular season games for the Fire.

Olmes Garcia signed with Real Salt Lake on February 21, 2013. He is 20 years old, 6'0, 175 pounds, a forward, and was playing in Colombia with Deportes Quindio. He signed a 5-year contract with Real Salt Lake after the Utah-based club paid a transfer fee to Deportes Quindio. Garcia has 5 goals and 4 assists in 754 minutes so far this year. The Colombian forward has started 3 of the last 6 games while appearing in 20 games and starting in 7 overall in 2013. In the press release for his signing, the front office staff provided a quote:

"Garcia is a talented player who is a significant part of our long-term plan," Real Salt Lake General Manager Garth Lagerwey said. "He's fast, has good size and is skilled, but he'll need some time to get used to our system and to Utah. We'll be patient with him as we help him adjust to a new country, a new team, a new language, a new culture and new tactics."

It looks like the press release for Garcia's departure will not be coming for quite some time.

In case you are suddenly curious, Juan Luis Anangono is a 24 year-old, 6'1, 175 pounds forward that has started 2 of his first 3 games for the Chicago Fire...

Overall

With this kind of overview, I have to wonder why the Fire don't trade all of their international slots for SuperDraft picks. While Real Salt Lake is carefully checking all of their groceries in an attempt to create a perfect dinner, the Fire seem to know a lot about the meat for the meal while indeterminately putting out their arm and scooping produce into bags without taking a good look at the product they will have to eat later.

Bad produce will make your dinner taste inferior no matter the top quality of your meat. At professional restaurants, they make changes to the staff when the product being served is bad or people stop eating there after too many bad meals.

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