In a rather curious move, the Fire released Giuseppe Gentile on Monday. The 21-year-old forward was on loan with the Charlotte Eagles and never made an appearance with the Fire first team.
Gentile was drafted by the Fire in the wavier draft out of UNC Charlotte and immediately impressed during the preseason. With Mike Magee, Quincy Amarikwa and Juan Luis Anangonó ahead of him, Gentile's playing time looked limited, so the Fire made a smart call and loaned him to the Charlotte Eagles of USL Pro. Gentile appeared in a few reserve games with the Fire while earning some valuable minutes in Charlotte. Most people who saw him play saw some potential in him and thought he could eventually contribute to the first team in Bridgeview. All of that talk was suddenly halted with his release.
When this move is looked at more in depth, it brings to light several questions. First, why could Gentile not finish up his season on loan? He was earning some minutes in Charlotte and for a 21-year-old, he seemed to be on the right path. The Fire obviously thought highly enough of him to take him in the waiver draft and then send him on loan to earn some first team minutes. When he was initially loaned out, Yallop said that "we'll continue to monitor Giuseppe's progress while he is in Charlotte, and will look to bring him back to Chicago throughout the year to participate in Open Cup and MLS Reserve League matches." Those aren't quotes about a player who is about to be released. Gentile did end up making some reserve league appearances for the Fire but something obviously changed over the past few months.
Recently the Fire released fellow forward Orr Barouch which was rumored to make room for Tottenham forward Cameron Lancaster. That move was in the beginning of June and there has been no news since of the Lancaster loan. The Fire now only have three forwards on the roster while still being in the Open Cup. One injury to a Fire forward and the team is in real trouble. The games will start coming fast for the Fire and they will need every body that they have. The Fire now have two open roster spots and with MLS' small roster size, that is something that is not common or prudent. Most teams have a hard time filling the roster and now the Fire have too many open spots.
Another interesting aspect is that Barouch's salary was $48,825 while Gentile made $48,500. Together this leaves the Fire with a little under $100,000 to play with. It is well known that the Fire are dealing with a tight cap situation but neither of these moves free up room for a Kaka type signing but could create room for Lancaster. Is it smart to trade two forwards for one though? Could there have been another player on the roster cut instead of Gentile? Hunter Jumper and Steven Kinney are two names that pop out right away. Gentile was younger than either of them.
Frank Yallop has overseen a youth movement in Bridgeview. Harrison Shipp, Benji Joya and Victor Pineda have been the face of the movement with Chris Ritter also contributing. They have all had encouraging signs and many thought Gentile would be the next to follow suit to the first team. At the age of 21, Gentile might have gone on to a have a long career in Fire red. Instead the Fire let go a young goal scorer, which are a rare breed.
This move has left many puzzled but hopefully it is another move in a larger strategy. Cameron Lancaster might still join the Fire and now will have higher expectations placed on his shoulders if Barouch and Gentile left because of his impending arrival. It will be interesting to look back at the end of the season and be able to further analyze this move. At the moment though, it's a head scratching decision.
What are your thoughts on this move? Concerned or interested to see what happens next?