Plan A for Chicago Fire FC must have involved signing Chicharito.
There aren’t many players in the world who could capture Chicago’s attention quite like Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. Sure, there are bigger stars, but Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo aren’t coming here. And despite his name being floated last year, neither is Robert Lewandowski, at least yet.
But Chicharito? He actually felt obtainable for the Fire. He’s the biggest star on the continent’s biggest national team, and he can actually still play, making him the perfect choice to help us fill Soldier Field as quickly as possible.
That dream isn’t dead, but a number of media reports this week have LA Galaxy trying to sign the Mexican striker (and despite what Taylor Twellman said during the MLS SuperDraft, a source tells me Chicharito is not actually on the Fire’s discovery list).
So if he goes to the Evil Empire of the West, where does that leave us? And with fewer than 20 players on the roster and a little over a week until training camp, at what point do we as Fire fans start to, you know, freak out?
If you’re already there, I feel you. But, I’m not ready to panic just yet. Here’s why:
Things seem to be falling into place in the correct order. New owner Joe Mansueto hired Georg Heitz to run soccer operations. Then, Heitz hired Raphael Wicky to coach the team. The club just announced a new Director of Performance this week, and I’d expect the rest of the coaching staff to fill out very soon.
In the next few weeks, I would hope the club would fill at least two of the designated player slots, perhaps keeping one open a little longer if there’s a great player they’re struggling to get over the line. At this point, the Fire should have a very good idea about who they might be able to land, and who was just using the club as leverage for a deal elsewhere. Heitz should already have talks underway with clubs, agents and players involved with his first choices for all three slots, with at least a couple backup targets in motion if things fall through.
After that, the rest of the roster should fill out. Any other order would feel sloppy and rushed. I’d rather the club take the time to get things right, even if that means waiting longer than we’d like.
It means we likely will head into preseason with an incomplete roster. And yes, that’s a little scary.
Mansueto told the Chicago Sun-Times this week the club hears the complaints about the new Fire logo, saying “We need to give it time,” but adding “ultimately, if it’s not working, we’ll fix it.”
It might not seem like it sometimes, but trust me, club officials hear the fans. If they know we don’t like the logo, they also know we’re starting to get worried about the roster.
The easy fix would be to fill the team out quickly to appease angry fans, with no sign of a plan.
So, the good news is Heitz and Wicky must have some kind of a plan. Soon enough, we’ll know if it was a good one.