It is difficult to even know where to start after the Chicago Fire once again moved a potential on-field asset for the always mysterious rebuilding tool that is cash.
After discussions with U.S. National Team midfielder Alejandro Bedoya apparently failed, Chicago made the move to send their top allocation spot to Philadelphia for the Union’s first-round pick in 2017, the discovery rights to an unknown player and of course a reported $170,000 in allocation money.
On the surface, it is a pretty nice haul for Bedoya, who is a very solid midfielder but may not be a franchise changing player. The problem with the move is it is yet another example of the Fire playing a waiting game (willingly or not), passing on talented assets for some undefined “plan” we are supposed to believe in.
It happened with Jermaine Jones. It happened with Didier Drogba. And now it happened with Bedoya.
Passing on this kind of talent has not been a one-way street either. The Fire have a real problem attracting players and it is something they need to admit to themselves and work on fixing. Chicago was never the top choice for any of those three men, even though the Fire wanted some of those players badly.
To be fair to general manager Nelson Rodriguez, he publicly told supporters not to expect a big summer move. Fine. But when you talk to Bedoya, as has been reported by multiple respected outlets, you can understand why fans get their hopes up. The fact those conversations failed to result in a contract is, perhaps, not the end of the world because it never seemed to be in the initial summer plan.
But the end of the world, in the context of Rodriguez’s plan, is quickly approaching. The clock for the general manager’s professional apocalypse starts in January. When that time comes, it is time for whatever cards he has been holding to be played.
He needs to find a way to make Chicago a destination for someone. Just one star. That’s all it takes to change a culture sometimes. He can’t let another slip away. It is absolutely crucial.
TAM and GAM have become the two most nauseating acronyms for Fire supporters. There can be no more windows where TAM and GAM are the big acquisitions. They must spend in January and it has to be right.
Sure, it might not be fair. Rodriguez didn’t bring in Shaun Maloney or Gilberto on massive Designated Player contracts. But those mistakes still have real and lingering effects on the club. After empty promises from Frank Yallop, uninspired play from Maloney and a complete meltdown from Gilberto, both fans and prospective players are staying away from Toyota Park at a damaging rate.
This administration needs to answer for those mistakes and turn the tide. They knew that coming in. January has to be that time. Any thoughts of a three-year rebuild were thrown away when Colorado and Philadelphia showed what a motivated and capable front office and coaching staff could do in a single year.
The Fire fan base has put up with a lot for quite a while now, but the club does seem to be approaching a precipice. Some would argue the club fell off that cliff a while ago but I can rarely remember a time when so many potentially damaging things could ignite all at once.
Sunday’s game against New York was one of the worst, if not worst, home “results” of the season. The Fire actually had a decent crowd and they all went home with a depressing result, again. Now the perception is the Fire struck out again in the transfer market and got stuck with TAM and GAM for their troubles. If the Fire drop the Aug. 9 game to New England, fans will tune out in droves as the season is all but dead.
If that wasn’t bad enough, there is still a dark cloud hanging over the Fire Academy and Gonzalo Segares’ departure. We don’t know the details, but if those details come out and it’s not good, the powder keg could explode.
There is a real tension around this club right now and it’s not good. They do have some promising young players and some nice additions like Michael de Leeuw. There could be something there. But all of that seems like it could be ruined very easily if the next couple months play out in a particularly bad way.
The club needs to do everything it can to keep any glimmer of hope for anything at all alive as long as possible. And when January comes around, Rodriguez needs to work on closing the deal that will finally start to turn things around.
Winter is coming Mr. Rodriguez. I hope you’re ready.