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Here Comes the Cavalry

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Chicago Fire's trio of U.S. Men's National Team call-ups and at least one of the international signings will join the team in Tampa this week.

The Chicago Fire will welcome some key players to camp this week, including the national team trio.
The Chicago Fire will welcome some key players to camp this week, including the national team trio.
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Fire team fans saw during Saturday's 3-0 victory over University of South Florida will likely be the last time they see that team.

During his weekly conference call with the media, Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said Matt Polster, Sean Johnson and Brandon Vincent would all join the team in Tampa Monday while Portugal defender Joao Meira could be in camp by Tuesday or Wednesday. Johan Kappelhof is still in the process of getting his visa and there was no timetable for Rodrigo Ramos' arrival.

With all four players expected to play key roles for the Fire this season, it is likely they could all get some run Thursday during the preseason game against Philadelphia as Paunovic tries to quickly get them up to speed on his style of play. Paunovic had high praise for Vincent when asked about his performance in Friday's game against Canada.

Paunovic said the Vincent appearance was a bit surprising, but clearly deserved as he must have put in the work during camp to gain the trust of Jurgen Klinsmann. He added he sees Vincent as a humble and hard working player and sees him as a prospect for the senior national team moving forward.

Sean Johnson will also be a welcomed addition as Paunovic seemed eager to see how the veteran goalkeeper would work with Patrick McLain. While Paunovic praised McLain's work through camp, he said the relationship between the goalkeeper and Johnson would be important and wants to see the two push each other for the starting gig.

There was no particular mention of Polster but one would expect Paunovic to be pretty happy about his arrival as well.

In regards to Saturday's preseason win, Paunovic said he was very pleased with the performance but the team still has plenty of room to grow and improve. He was especially pleased with the level of the young players and mentioned Joey Calistri showed he could be a right back.

Apparently the coaching staff has held discussions on where Calistri could fit and they were pleased with his performance at right back. I wouldn't be surprised to seem him moved around a bit though as they continue to experiment.

Paunovic went on to name Mauricio Pineda, Collin Fernandez, Patrick Doody and Kingsley Bryce as part of the future of the club. I don't think that means players like Drew Conner and Alex Morrell should be disregarded, but it was interesting that he named names.

It was also interesting that he didn't rule out the possibility of Pineda joining the senior team this year, despite his commitment to University of North Carolina in the fall. Paunovic said it was too early to determine what the club would do with Pineda this year.

There is still no word on when or if other players could be signed. With three international roster slots still open, there is still a strong possibility for more additions.

Overall, Paunovic seems very pleased with the progress in training camp both from a physical and technical aspect. There have also been no serious injuries, which is always good. The only notable injuries are Eric Gehrig's continued rehab from his foot injury and Bryce reportedly dealing with a foot contusion.

We're three weeks into preseason and everything is still roses. It's a good feeling.