On Tuesday, the Chicago Fire brought in 33-year-old Kenneth Kronholm from 2 Bundesliga club Holstein Kiel. Kronholm is German-American and therefore won’t take up an international slot. Kronholm’s contract runs through the 2021 season with a club option for 2022.
So now the Fire have five goalkeepers on the roster. Where do they all stack up next to one another?
1) David Ousted
The Great Dane has played and started in all ten Fire games this year. I feel much more secure with him in the back so far. He has made some spectacular saves, one of which is an easy MLS Save of the Year contender.
I doubt we’ll see another save like it this year in MLS, but with the MLS Save of the Year being done through fan voting I wouldn’t be shocked to see another save win out. He’s made errors as well, but in general he is night and day compared to the goalkeeping we have seen in recent years. He’s been a top 3 signing this year for the Fire.
I know, I know. He was signed two days ago. However, you don’t bring in a veteran goalkeeper in the middle of the season unless you think he has something to contribute. Nelson Rodriguez had high praises for him in Wednesday’s press conference, saying that he has a skillset that some of the other keepers on the roster do not have. Rodriguez didn’t specify what those talents were, but it seemed clear that they think he will be a useful signing. Once he is healthy I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kronholm start in the US Open Cup games.
3) Richard Sánchez
At 25, Sánchez is still young, especially for a keeper. However, he just didn’t perform well last season. There were flashes of what he could potentially bring, but it was never consistent enough for him to be considered as a first choice keeper.
4) Stefan Cleveland
Cleveland is in his third season with the Fire and has made 5 starts, all coming in 2018. He had multiple loan stints with the Tulsa Roughnecks, but surprisingly has fewer starts for the Roughnecks than he does the Fire.
Since there is a bit of an overflow of keepers I would bet that one of Cleveland or Sanchez gets moved pretty soon. I really doubt they will waive either guy, so a loan is more likely. I would expect it to be Cleveland based on his lack of game experience, and it’ll probably be sooner rather than later. Even though he’s only 24 it is necessary for his development to get senior playing time.
Slonina is barely on the depth chart. He’s here because he is on the Chicago Fire roster. This kid is fourteen years old though, he’s focusing on more important things like hanging out with his friends, playing Fortnite, and all the other things kids do these days. He is, of course, very promising, but still multiple years away from being in the conversation for Chicago Fire first team appearances.
I feel very positive about the direction that this club is going in regards to goalkeeping. Compared to the last two years, the Fire have done a stellar job in 2019 of building a goalkeeping core for the present, near future, and distant future.