One of the biggest changes in the Chicago Fire organization in 2020 is the emphasis on signing and developing young players from the club’s Academy. When new Sporting Director Georg Heitz came to the club, he talked about the importance of always having young guys “cooking in the roaster.” Obviously, Homegrowns like Mauricio Pineda and Djordje Mihailovic have broken through, and are regular starters on the first team. But there plenty of other guys in the pipeline, so it’s worth checking in to see how they’re doing, as well.
This story may have flown under the radar, but “Gaga” was actually on the bench as the number two goalkeeper for the road loss to Orlando, and the wins over Houston and Atlanta, instead of usual number two Connor Sparrow.
“We decided this week to have Gaga on the bench,” Head Coach Raphael Wicky said after the Atlanta match. “We want to give him a little bit of that feeling, of that getting these experiences of these games and see how he reacts to that. And that’s it.”
Has the teenager actually moved ahead of Sparrow on the depth chart? We’ll be watching.
Andre Reynolds II
Reynolds made his MLS debut against Atlanta, coming on for Jonathan Bornstein in the final minute of the match. He’s still third choice at left back behind Bornstein and Miguel Navarro, and in a normal year, a loan might have made sense to get him some playing time. But, Wicky was concerned about mandatory quarantines on the front and back end of the loan deals, so he decided to keep Reynolds in Chicago.
Wicky praised “Guti” as being one of the team’s best players in training in the time between MLS is Back and the restart of the regular season in August. He’s played five times since then, grabbing 26 minutes of action. For more on Guti, Elizabeth Sanchez wrote a great piece on him in Spanish for the Fire’s website.
Gutjahr had surgery after suffering a knee injury back in June, which was supposed to keep him out of action for four months. He actually returned to training recently, to do some work with the medical staff, and things appear to be progressing well for him. He hasn’t seen the field in 2020, but the versatile midfielder played eight games last season under Veljko Paunovic.
Javier Casas, Jr. & Nick Slonina
We’re still waiting for both of these guys to make their Fire debuts. Both are training with the first team.
The Forward Madison Trio
Chris Brady got another start in goal for the ‘Mingos over the weekend, earning a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over Chattanooga. The other two Fire players on loan in Wisconsin, Alex Monis and Allan Rodriguez, both saw action earlier in the USL season, but haven’t been making the 18 as much, lately. Earlier in the season, Monis played quite a bit as an option off the bench, and Rodriguez earned one start back in August.