Today the Chicago Fire announced that Gaston Puerari has been sold to Atlas for an undisclosed fee.
This move signals a few things. First off the team has confidence in Orr Barouch to take over a bigger role in the offensive scheme. He immediately takes Puerari's place as one of the players who will start at striker depending on form, Chaves and Nazarit being the other two. Second Gabe Ferrari is ready for bench duty. The Fire typically dress four forwards and I would expect Ferrari to dress for game day until Marco Pappa returns from international duty. At that point we will probably see Oduro go to the bench (as long as Nyarko's health and form warrant it) pushing Ferari back down the depth chart unless Gabe performs well off the bench. This team did have a glut of forwards so moving one of them makes some sense. The potential big negative with this move is how it will affect team chemistry. If you have ever attended a practice session Gaston was always working hard and making people laugh at the same time. Good guy that you don't necessarily want to lose.
The other big part of this move is that an international roster spot is now freed up. The Pavel Pardo rumors have been warming up lately. Perhaps a foreign DP type signing is about to go down? Hard to say as this team plays things very close to the vest (Nery Castillo being signed out of the blue last season). Maybe they have discovered another young player that can contribute right away.
From Puerari's perspective the move makes a lot of sense. He gets to move to a more prestigious league where smaller players tend to prosper. I expect that his paycheck will at least double as he was set to make $50,000 for this season according to the most recent salary data from the players union. Also Atlas has just recently hired Santos Laguna's former coach Ruben Omar Romano. Romano was fired from Santos for flipping off Santos fans after a loss. His performance as coach there was excellent. He led Santos to to consecutive Leguilla finals (Bicentenario 2010 and Apertura 2010). He likes to play a very attacking minded 4-4-2 and one can see Puerari excelling in such an environment either at forward or at the top of a diamond shaped midfield. Especially while not having to contend with the giant speedy central defenders that populate MLS.
After getting over the initial "what are you kidding me?" reaction this move makes a lot of sense for the Fire. Barouch has outplayed Puerari and deserves to be part of the starting forward rotation. Chaves and Nazarit are also clearly ahead of Puerari on the depth chart. The need to get bigger and better on set pieces has also been a season long concern for the Fire and this move addresses that by giving Puerari's minutes to Nazarit and Barouch. Combine that with a transfer fee and it was an easy business decision to make.
Now what are they going to do with that free international slot?