The Chicago Fire’s premier offseason signing has yet to play a single minute for the club, but that should soon change. Head coach Raphael Wicky said winger Stanislav Ivanov took part in full team training on Wednesday.
“He’s getting closer and closer,” Wicky said in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. “We have to see if there’s a reaction or not. So far, he’s been good, he’s looking good. So, I think we’re very close to re-integrating him full time in team training, and as soon as possible on the bench.”
Ivanov, 22, is a speedy winger who is expected to add creativity to the team’s attack. He was injured during preseason, and has been out recovering after surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear. At the time, his recovery was expected to take around four months, so things appear to be right on target.
More Injury Updates
Ignacio Aliseda and Mauricio Pineda both picked up injuries in the 3-1 win over Orlando City, but it looks like both will be available for Saturday’s match against Nashville SC (7:30 p.m. CT, WGN-TV/CFFC Live). Wicky said both players are back training with the team, and seem to be healthy.
The MLS secondary transfer opened last week, and the Fire have yet to have any players either join or exit the club. The window closes in early August, and if the Fire are signing anyone, Wicky didn’t want to let on.
“We’re obviously always looking, the club is always watching players and looking for players, but right now we are not immediately looking for a full-term transfer or anything,” Wicky said. “I can’t say we won’t have someone, but I also can’t say we’re immediately targeting someone.”
Voting opened Wednesday for the MLS All-Star Game. Media, players and fans can all vote to select the MLS All-Stars that will take on the Liga MX All-Stars at Banc of California Stadium on August 25.
Raphael Wicky didn’t want to single out any Fire players deserving of an All-Star nod, but defender Johan Kappelhof did mention a couple guys who he thinks should go.
“Álvaro Medrán right now is on fire,” Kappelhof said. “Álvaro is doing good. And, I’d like to say Bobby (Shuttleworth). He’s saved us a couple of times in important moments in the game, so I think Bobby as well.”
Medrán has five assists in the last three games, which launched him to third place in the league in that category this season. Shuttleworth has a league-high 24 saves over the last four matches. One other guy who should deserve consideration: Boris Sekulić, who has two goals, two assists, and 19 tackles won this season.
What do you call the Fire’s current system?
Finally, at the end of his availability, the Sun-Times’ Brian Sandalow pressed Wicky on what we should call the Fire’s current formation. Is it a 5-3-2, or maybe a 3-5-2?
“When we have the ball, it’s a 3-4-3, 3-5-2, and when we don’t have the ball it’s probably a 5-4-1 depending on where you defend. If you defend in your own half, you defend with a back five, if you go and press higher, you normally defend with a back three or back four. So, call it whatever you want,” Wicky said with a laugh.