The Chicago Fire are about to be without two of their key players this season. After Saturday’s match against the Montreal Impact, both Gastón Giménez and Miguel Navarro will leave for South America on international duty for World Cup qualifiers.
Navarro, who has split playing time at left back with Jonathan Bornstein, will represent his native Venezuela. Giménez, who has one cap in a friendly for Argentina, is switching nations to join Paraguay, after completing a one time change of association through FIFA.
Giménez’s Paraguay squad plays Peru on Oct. 8. Navarro’s Venezuela faces Colombia on Oct. 9. Interestingly, the two players are set to face one another in a World Cup qualifier when Venezuela and Paraguay play on Oct. 13.
Previously, MLS teams had declined to release players for international duty, because of fears the additional travel may expose players to COVID-19. Przemyslaw Frankowski was not allowed to join Poland for that reason. But, it appears MLS has been overruled by FIFA.
“The latest information I have is that all teams must release their players,” Raphael Wicky said in his weekly news conference today. “FIFA decided that all teams must release their players, so in our case, teams in the United States must release their players. It is what it is. For everyone, it’s the same. So, I’m trying not to lose too much energy on that.”
When Navarro and Giménez get back to Chicago, they’ll have to quarantine for 10 days before rejoining their Fire teammates, meaning they could each miss nearly a month.