Fire beat writer extraordinaire Orrin Schwarz broke the news Wednesday that Gilberto and the Chicago Fire have officially parted ways.
It is no shock at all to see this departure finally come to fruition after the Brazilian striker took an indefinite personal leave a month ago. Not much was known of the situation at the time other than what coach Veljko Paunovic and general manager Nelson Rodriguez told the media, which was nothing more than it was a “personal matter.”
Well it turns out there could have been a bit more to it. According to Schwarz’s sources, Gilberto had a bit of a Jay Ratliff moment and had an emotional explosion before walking out on the team at the end of May.
Clearly he wanted out pretty bad because he forfeited the remaining money on his $1.1 million salary in order to pursue other options, likely in Brazil. That means the Fire now has cash to spend and an open Designated Player spot to fill. Whether Rodriguez uses that in the summer window remains to be seen, but when your team is in last place, bringing in a player might help.
I’m certainly in no position to tell Rodriguez how to take advantage of this gift he has been given, but I hear Nicolás Lodeiro might be on his way to the MLS and he happens to be pretty good at soccer. I know, I know; Seattle Sounders this and $7 million that, but a man can dream.
As for Gilberto, I really do hope he gets back on his feet. I’m not really sure what went so wrong in Chicago, but it certainly did. He seemed like a fit when he came on midway through last season and scored at a rate of every other game. But the visions of what he could be for the Fire quickly faded after his extremely rough start to 2016 that eventually led to his exit.
The Fire have yet another chance to try and strike some gold with a Designated Player signing. The track record is bad, but now is the time to turn it around! Lodeiro is waiting.