The Chicago Fire had a busy weekend, officially signing two players and announcing a full coaching staff.
The Men in Red continued to bolster the midfield depth by bringing back Razvan Cocis and added to the defensive unit by signing Portuguese center back Joao Meira, who had been rumored to come to Chicago for weeks. Both men are on one-year deals with an option for a second.
Cocis is a welcomed signing and should help add stability to a midfield that will likely see some experimentation with younger players. As the team attempts to find which of the youngsters rises to the top, Cocis can be relied on to put in a solid shift in relief or, at times, in the starting XI. Cocis has scored two goals and registered three assists with the club in 36 regular season appearances over the past two seasons. Cocis adds a bit of extra value in that he no longer occupies an international slot after receiving his green card last year.
With the Romanian turning 33 before the start of the season, I would not expect to see him with heavy minutes.
After weeks of reports, the Chicago Fire also added Meira, a 28-year-old center back with experience in Portugal's top flight.
Meira, who helped Belenenses gain promotion in the 2012-13 season, saw his playing time diminish after that initial season with the club. Meira scored two goals in 34 appearances in 2012-13 before playing in 27 matches the next year and only 18 in 2014-15. He has not played in a competitive match since May 2015.
At 28 years old, Meira is still a good signing based on potential and does add some versatility as general manager Nelson Rodriguez said Meira could fill in at defensive midfielder when needed. But the trend of diminishing playing time and a failed drug test that kept him out of action for eight months is still a bit of a concern.
Ideally, Meira is a depth signing and spot starter. With Rodriguez aiming to bring in three European center backs and targeting the likes of Polish international Marcin Kaminski, Meira's role could be in support with Jonathan Campbell and Eric Gehrig.
The Fire also announced the full coaching staff Sunday, unveiling a team nearly identical to the one that helped Serbia win the Under-20 World Cup last year. Marko Mitrovic will serve as an assistant coach, just as he did alongside Paunovic during the U-20 World Cup while Aleksandar Saric will reprise his role as goalkeeper coach.
To help the Serbian staff pick up on the MLS game and style, Pauonvic has also brought back Logan Pause to serve as an assistant. Pause spent his entire career with the Fire and is deeply knowledgeable about the league, which will be invaluable to a staff that will need some acclimating.
Jordan Webb is the new strength and conditioning coach. Webb is a former soccer player and has previously worked with the Cleveland Browns and Oklahoma City Thunder in the strength and conditioning department. Mario Cruz and Steven Purcell are coming in as new athletic trainers.
Cruz and Purcell could be key appointments as the previous training staff came under some criticism from players.
Are you happy Cocis is back? Do you have higher hopes for the newest international center back after the team has struggled previously in that area? Can a coaching staff of mostly MLS outsiders succeed in the league? Give us your thoughts!