A lot of things are approaching quickly for the Chicago Fire. The team wraps the Orlando portion of training camp this week, returns home, and then heads to Austin, Texas for three more preseason matches. The regular season opener against Inter Miami is a little more than three weeks away. Crazy, isn’t it?
The European transfer deadline day came and went without the Fire buying or selling anyone. It means Gabriel Slonina is staying in Chicago—for now. There were reports of interest from a number of big clubs in the Premier League and throughout Europe, but no actual offers arrived. This summer might be a different story.
It also means the Fire are creeping closer to the start of the regular season with giant holes in the team’s roster—including two designated player spots. Yes, they traded for striker Kacper Przybylko and signed defender Rafael Czichos—two starters—but there are still plenty of other needs. This roster is screaming out for firepower in the attack. Who’s actually going to get the ball to Przybylko? How is new coach Ezra Hendrickson supposed to implement an attack when he doesn’t even know who his players will be?
It’s enormously frustrating to see the team so incomplete with the season starting in just a few weeks.
Here’s a bit of good news: The European window closing only matters for the receiving club. The MLS window is open until May for incoming players, and Fire sources believe they may have more leverage now that players looking for new clubs have fewer options.
We know the Fire have been after big name DPs for months now. Last year we reported their interest in El Tri star Orbelin Pineda, and since then several other names have surfaced. While it’s frustrating the Fire haven’t signed anyone, they’re also fighting an uphill battle against the reputation of the club since the early 2010s. If you were a big name soccer star, would you feel good about coming here? Yes, the business side of the club is very different now, and owner Joe Mansueto has demonstrated a strong willingness to invest, but the team remained terrible on the field over his first two seasons as owner.
Even if the signings come late, if the Fire end up landing quality players—the right guys—then everyone will forget about this slow moving offseason. If they miss again, though? If you’ve been a Fire fan for any length of time, you already know how this goes.