There's this sense, somehow these days, that the term 'journeyman' is a pejorative - that anything less than mastery is an insult, or something. But there's something to be said, when building a team, for the importance of those guys around the periphery of the gameday 18 - and the Fire just picked up one of those guys in Englishman Matt Watson, lately of Vancouver, in exchange for one of the club's several surplus International slots.
"Matty is a hard working player with great character and a tremendous attitude," Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson told MLSsoccer.com. "This move was made in the best interest of both Matty's career and the club. We thank Matty for his dedication to the club over the past two seasons and we wish him the best of luck with Chicago Fire."
Watson's story is certainly an underdog journey. Born in Redditch, England, he moved to the USA to play for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County - not the powerhouse helmed by Sasho Cirovski. He's played for Richmond Kickers and Carolina Railhawks in the American lower leagues, and the Baltimore Blast in the MISL.
In two seasons with Vancouver, he started 25 of his 36 appearances. Yallop, speaking to MLSsoccer.com, described him as "a steady, athletic player." As Watson holds a green card, he will not require an international slot on the roster.
Of some interest is how the Fire can afford to add anyone at this point. Chicago dealt 2012 Rookie of the Year Austin Berry just days ago for allocation money and cap relief, and the cap situation (always shrouded in mystery) has universally been described as 'tight.' Watson isn't a big money player in any way, but he's not free, certainly. And the club is reportedly finalizing the Grant Ward loan from Tottenham; something has to give here, you'd think.
Perhaps sharp-eyed Guillermo Rivera, of Chicago Fire Confidential, has wrinkled it out - missing among the jersey-models at yesterday's Kickoff Luncheon were Yazid Atouba and Orr Barouch. Have the club shed more players to make this work? Or are Ward and Watson that affordable?