This is supposed to be a preview of what the Chicago Fire are going to do on Friday during the MLS SuperDraft.
The problem with writing something like this is that we really have no idea what the heck they’re going to do from one minute to the next. On the one hand, that’s exciting. It means that in a world where the Draft is becoming less and less a priority, the Fire are still finding uses for it in an attempt to make the club better. Plus, it gives us things to talk about.
On the other hand, The MLS SuperDraft is an anachronism. The best players are coming out for homegrown academies or the global transfer market, bypassing the Draft system altogether. There’s little advantage to be gained wheeling and dealing in the Draft.
Now, I’m all for min-maxing, squeezing the most advantage form every possibility. In MLS, you have do do some of that to succeed or you end up like the LA Galaxy. However, unless you have the big moves to create the foundation for incremental improvements to have the desired effect, you end up like the Fire: 10 plus years of futility while occasionally catching lightning in a bottle.
And so here we are. On the eve of the eve of the MLS Draft. The Fire have five SuperDraft picks and are guaranteed to do something with them. But will it matter? Only time will tell.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Indiana University homegrown product Andrew Gutman will in all likelihood be the second top Homegrown prospect from the academy to not sign with the Fire. Following in Cam Lindley’s footsteps last year, the Fire are reportedly cold to signing him, and he could follow Matt Polster off to Glasgow.
Let's do this in bites: Indiana star Andrew Gutman is mulling an offer from Celtic while Chicago shops his homegrown rights around MLS. #cf97 not interested in signing Gutman, but signing other homegrowns: https://t.co/ai5jPlZ76x— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) January 8, 2019
There really isn’t much to say here. This could end up being a tragedy. This would be the second year in a row that the Fire lose out on one of the best talents from their youth system for essentially nothing. I completely understand wanting to go to Europe, but at the same time, not trying your headrest to sign players that your organization has cultivated and developed is damning, and needs to change.
The second deal that’s rumored makes me equally, if not more upset if it’s true.
If this happens, this means that there will be a completely new back line for the 2019 season. And it should also be the trigger for another tear-down and rebuild. In any other organization, trading your best and most consistent defender would be considered the white flag. Time to start over from the beginning. But we know that that’s not what’s happening. Trading away Johan Kappelhof would be stupid. End of. And would be one of the worst deals this organization has ever made.
On The Clock
The Fire have five picks, starting with the #5 overall. In the SB Nation MockSuperDraft— it’s called mock because its usually wrong and we get mocked for it— Hot Time selected Akeem Ward from Creighton. That would probably be a solid selection. He’s a good outside back, and that’s really the biggest need to be filled.
Top Drawer Soccer’s mock draft has the Fire taking John Nelson from UNC. Another nice need selection and a member of Generation Adidas, so his salary wouldn’t be much of a cap hit.
As I said in my offseason-so-far post, I am not really a favor of drafting for need. You draft the best player available. That should be Frankie Amaya, UCLA’s freshman wonder. He’s quick with the ball at his feet and he likes to run at defenders. He’d make a nice complement to Alexander Katai, and he might be a nice piece to have, either for trade bait to pick for a need somewhere else, or adjust to becoming a winger in the future.
Regardless of who the Fire select, there will certainly be second guessing from the fanbase and media. And with Nelson at the helm for another January, the only thing we really know about what’s going to happen, it that we don’t know what’s going to happen.