The Chicago Fire have their first new player for 2023.
In a move that has been brewing for the last several weeks, the Chicago Fire and their sister club FC Lugano completed the player swap that would send right back Jhan Espinoza to Switzerland and Maren Haile-Selassie to Chicago. Haile-Selassie comes to the club on loan with an option to buy for next season.
The 23-year-old comes to the Fire having a decent start to the season for Lugano. While he only has one goal on the stat sheet, he contributes in other ways that have him stand out as one of the better outside midfielders in the Swiss Super League. His 3 assists on the season put him 9th in the league and his assists per 90 minutes played of .39 put him 6th highest. He’s also top 10 in shots on target percentage at over 54%. He’s ready to take the next step in his career— The Fire and MLS will provide that for him.
Part of me likes this move. Towards the end of the season, the Fire attack looked overworked, especially on the left, where Chris Mueller played basically every minute without a ton of recovery time or rest. Haile-Selassie solves that issue. He can come in and push Mueller in training, potentially improving both players at a faster rate, while also providing some squad rotation without any major talent dropoff. I still expect Mueller to start the majority of games, but now I'm not so worried if he needs a rest or gets injured or suspended.
On the other hand, while excitingly mediocre, Jhan Espinoza was the only true right back on the roster. If the Fire don’t replace him with someone equal or better, their defense, one of the best things about last year’s squad, is going to take a massive step back. I don’t care how good the CB paring is, having poor fullbacks is a death sentence in MLS. Georg Heitz and co. better have a plan for this, and it better work out.
Here is the highlight of his goal this season.