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Chicago Fire target coveted European centerback

Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said the club is in pursuit of a centerback that is drawing interest from Champions League teams. Two MLS free agents and another European centerback will be officially announced as roster additions soon.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Fire General Manager Nelson Rodriguez broke his long offseason silence Tuesday, announcing success on the European front in finding defensive help.

In a pre-draft media call, Rodriguez said the team is close to announcing the signing of two MLS free agents and one European centerback. But it is a second European centerback that could be a game changer for the club.

Rodriguez said the Fire remain very much in the running for a centerback that is also drawing interest from Champions League teams. He said the offer is competitive and the club would use Targeted Allocation Money for the signing, but the signing would not be a Designated Player.

Expect the two free agent signings and European signing to be announced soon. The mystery centerback could take a while longer if it even comes to fruition at all.

Rodriguez also confirmed the club has received two offers for the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s draft. He said either of the similar offers could be accepted and their recruitment efforts in the international market could determine their draft approach if progress is made on that front before the draft.

If the club were to trade the No. 1 overall pick for a player, he said that player would have to be at or above the level Rodriguez and Paunovic rate the top prospect on their draft board and would be expected to make an impact.

Do not expect the club to rush to fill all the roster spots before preseason training officially starts. On multiple occasions, Rodriguez stressed it was important to bring the right players on board rather than rushing to fill spots for the sake of filling spots. He remains confident their efforts with remaining MLS free agents and international players will result in more signings soon.

He plans on using all eight international roster spots.

Rodriguez also said the full coaching staff would be announced within a week and acknowledged the drawbacks to not having a full scouting department in place with the draft coming up.

Hot (Time) Take

It was great to be back on a conference call. So hopefully this can last throughout the season.

This is speculation, but let me say I would not be shocked to see the Fire trade the No. 1 overall pick. Rodriguez seemed excited about his two European centerback options – one all but under contract already – and publicly stated the two offers the club received for the pick are sufficient enough for the club to accept should they decide to go that route. They also seem genuinely unsure of who they would choose with the pick.

I, like all other Fire fans, am very eager to see the quality of international player Rodriguez is going to land. Could the mystery centerback be Nemanja Vidic? Possible. What is clear is the strength of his international signings will be the key to how far this team goes.

Rodriguez stated success would be measured by how much progress the club makes toward what it aims to be by 2018. But he also said the MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup are always the top-two goals and 2016 would not necessarily need to a rebuild year. If his international signings are strong enough, it might not have to be.

What do you think the Fire should do, keep or trade the top pick? Do you have confidence in Rodriguez to find the right international players?