The Fire made another splash on Friday evening, acquiring former Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Juninho on loan from Club Tijuana via the allocation process. The Fire made a trade with Minnesota United to swap spots in the allocation ranking, sending GAM and a second round pick in this year’s Superdraft to the Loons. No such move needed to be made with Atlanta United, as they passed on the former Galaxy midfield anchor, and will maintain their number one spot in the allocation ranking.
Juninho was a three time MLS Cup champion in his first stint in MLS, as he won titles in 2011, 2012, and 2014 with LA, in addition to Supporter’s Shield titles in 2010 and 2011. In five years with the Galaxy, Juninho appeared in 187 games, starting 180 of those. He scored 18 goals and provided 23 assists in those appearances. In addition, Juninho has 21 career MLS Cup Playoffs appearances. Juninho left the galaxy for Club Tijuana after the 2015 season, and appeared in 24 matches in his year south of the border, scoring 2 goals and providing 2 assists.
Juninho’s deal with the Fire is a one-year loan, with options to both extend his MLS contract, as well as to purchase his rights outright.
Hot (Time) Take
This is the “midfield boss” signing that Nelson Rodriguez has discussed so frequently this offseason. Juninho was an integral part of 3 championship teams in his first stint in MLS, so it’s really hard to argue with the quality of this signing. The question is more about system fit. In LA, Juninho played as the holder alongside countryman Marcelo Sarvas in a 4-4-2, and Sarvas was the one of the pair more inclined to go forward. Juninho’s likely midfield partner for the majority of his time in Chicago will be American kid Matt Polster, a defensive midfielder if there ever was one. Juninho did frequently show wonderful touch and passing range in his time at the Home Depot/StubHub Center, so it remains to be seen if he can be the guy that really helps the Fire get the ball into the final third, on the feet of Nemanja Nikolic, Michael de Leeuw, and David Accam more often. At first glance, however, this is a pure quality signing for the Fire. Center midfielders don’t start regularly on three championship teams in five years for no reason at all.