Chicago Fire sporting director Georg Heitz said one of his goals is to make the roster younger heading into the 2021 season. The club’s latest signing will help with that.
The Fire have acquired 21-year-old defender Jhon Espinoza from SD Aucas in Ecuador. He’s under contract through the 2023 season, with club options for 2024 and 2025, and he becomes the 15th player on the Fire roster age 23 or younger.
“Jhon is a talented, young right fullback who will be a great addition to the Club,” Heitz said in a statement. “With Jhon’s signing, we’ve added another player who will provide more competition and quality within the roster heading into next season. We are excited that he is coming to Chicago and look forward to working with him.”
Right back was certainly a position where the Fire needed depth heading into next season. Boris Sekulić was the club’s only true player at the position.
Espinoza becomes the fifth South American to join the team since the Heitz took over, joining Gastón Giménez (Paraguay), Ignacio Aliseda (Argentina), Miguel Navarro (Venezuela) and Carlos Terán (Colombia).
Espinoza made his pro debut in December 2017, and since then, he’s made 54 appearances (48 starts) across all appearances while playing in Ecuador’s top-flight. He began his career at CD Cuenca, making five appearances for that club, before moving to SD Aucas prior to the 2018 season, where he appeared 49 times (44 starts) across all competitions.
He’s also earned two caps for the Ecuadorian National Team, and 15 more for his country’s U-20 side, including seven appearances at the 2019 U-20 FIFA World Cup. He scored the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over the United States in that tournament.
In 2019, Espinoza captained Ecuador’s U-20 team to a first-place finish in the 2019 U-20 South American Championship. He made seven appearances (seven starts) as his home country captured its first-ever championship in the biennial competition.
Espinoza will occupy an international slot on the Fire’s 2021 roster.