John Goossens is officially a member of the Chicago Fire.
Weekend reports indicated the signing was all but a formality and the formality finally took place Monday when the club announced a two-year deal with an option for a third. Goossens has been a huge bright spot for the Fire in the preseason and will need to provide leadership and stability in a position that is short on options.
Collin Fernandez has shown brilliant potential, but at 19, cannot be expected to carry the load. Outside of Fernandez and Goossens, the Fire lack a true central attacking midfielder. Goossens showed his scoring and distribution prowess during the preseason, making his mark in virtually every single appearance.
But preseason is preseason and only time will tell if Goossens can translate that high level of play to the physicality of the MLS regular season. The downside to the news is Goossens could miss Sunday's home opener if his visa does not come through in time. General Manager Nelson Rodriguez said the club was still unsure about the situation and Sunday's game was still in jeopardy.
Rodriguez also said Monday that the club would continue to target players to help in the central midfield, according to reporters at the event.
The other news of interest leaking out of the annual luncheon is the goalkeeping situation. Over the weekend, the Fire announced the signing of trialist Matt Lampson. Initially, I believed that to be a third-string signing behind Sean Johnson and Patrick McLain. However, it appears Lampson might be the man between the sticks.
Coach Veljko Paunovic said Monday that he was still not sure who would start in goal on Sunday. That is an answer that I refuse to take at face value. When you have Sean Johnson on the roster, the longest tenured member of the club and a national team prospect, and you say you are not sure, that means the other guy is starting.
Lampson put in a good shift against Vancouver and was even more impressive in a clean sheet effort against the defending MLS Cup champions in Portland. If Paunovic does not send Lampson out for the home opener, I would be shocked. Johnson may very well be the better goalkeeper, but Paunovic's answer Monday was enough to believe he trusts Lampson's form right now over Johnson.
Chicago Fire Confidential editor Guillermo Rivera said Johnson has not spoken to Paunovic about starting Sunday but did expect to play more in the preseason.
I'm not ready to say the club is planning on moving Johnson yet, but a player of his caliber can only sit behind the Jon Buschs and Matt Lampsons of the world for so long. Of course, we could see Johnson Sunday, but it would be a bit of a surprise.
Did you go to the kickoff luncheon? If so, what did you enjoy the most? What do you think of the goalkeeping situation?