Fire

Another injury blow for Christian Dean will likely cost him the season

Another injury blow for Christian Dean will likely cost him the season

Some guys just can't seem to stay healthy.

The Fire announced that Christian Dean is expected to be out two to three months with a fifth metatarsal fracture in his left foot. Dean exited Saturday's loss to Minnesota at halftime with the injury and was seen on crutches after the match.

This is the third time in the past two seasons Dean will be out significant time due to a related injury. Dean suffered the same injury in training just before the start of the 2016 season when he was with Vancouver and he missed the whole season. This season he started three of the Whitecaps' first five matches before suffering what the Whitecaps described as a "stress reaction" in training on April 25.

This time around, the Fire are calling it a fracture again. Dean is scheduled to have surgery on Sept. 1 at Midwest Orthopaedic at Rush. With less than two months left in the regular season, Dean is likely to miss the rest of the season even with a deep playoff run from the Fire.

The Fire traded for Dean on Aug. 9 to add defensive depth, which he provided just in time for a rash of injuries to the Fire back line. Dean's first game in uniform, Aug. 16 at Montreal, saw center back Joao Meira go down with a calf injury five minutes into the game. Dean was the only option off the bench in that position. He started the next two games, home losses to Toronto and Minnesota.

Dean's injury comes at a time when injuries are still a major problem for the Fire. Meira hasn't returned since leaving that game at Montreal, left back Brandon Vincent has missed the last seven games with a quad injury and right back Matt Polster has been out for three straight games with a knee injury. Of the three, Polster has appeared to be the closest to returning after being nearly a full participant in training last week.

This year, the Fire have also seen Jorge Bava go down for the year with elbow surgery and John Goossens has been out since the first game due to an ankle injury. In addition, rookie midfielder and first-round pick Daniel Johnson suffered an MCL sprain in early August and has been out since.

Fire's protected list for expansion draft hints at possible moves

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USA TODAY

Fire's protected list for expansion draft hints at possible moves

The MLS offseason doesn't take long to get in gear.

The Fire traded Arturo Alvarez earlier on Sunday, the same day which the list of protected players was to be announced ahead of Tuesday's expansion draft for Los Angeles FC.

LAFC will take five players in the expansion draft, which is set for 1 p.m. on Tuesday. A team can only lose one player. Each team can protect 11 players and homegrown players aren't eligible for selection. For the Fire that means Drew Conner and Djordje Mihailovic can't be taken.

The Fire protected David Accam, Jonathan Campbell, Johan Kappelhof, Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic, Juninho, Matt Polster, Richard Sanchez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luis Solignac and Brandon Vincent.

While Sanchez and Schweinsteiger are out of contract, the Fire have said they are negotiating with both players. Protecting Juninho is a bit of a surprise because it implies that the Fire have some intention of keeping him for next year, or at least keeping his rights to be traded.

The Fire left David Arshakyan, Jorge Bava, Brandt Bronico, Stefan Cleveland, Jorge Corrales, Michael de Leeuw, Christian Dean, Daniel Johnson and Matt Lampson unprotected. De Leeuw would be a worthwhile pickup for LA if it thinks he is worth it after his ACL tear suffered late in the season.

With only five players being selected it's fairly likely no Fire players are taken by LAFC, but it's arguable that de Leeuw will end up being one of the best five players available. The 31-year-old tied for the team lead with eight assists and scored three goals.

Fire open offseason by sending Arturo Alvarez home

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USA TODAY

Fire open offseason by sending Arturo Alvarez home

And they're off.

MLS Cup finished just last night with Toronto completing arguably the best season in league history, but the offseason doesn't wait long to get going. The Fire took advantage of Sunday's short trade window before Los Angeles FC's expansion draft takes place on Tuesday by trading Arturo Alvarez to the Houston Dynamo.

Alvarez, a Houston native, gets to go home and could finish his career with the Dynamo. The Fire received a second-round pick in the 2019 draft.

Alvarez, 32, made 55 regular season MLS appearances with the Fire in two years. He had five goals and nine assists in 2016, leading the team in assists. This past season he saw his minutes get nearly cut in half although he did regain a regular spot in the team towards the end of the season and finished with three goals and two assists.

“Arturo had perhaps his two best years wearing our red and we appreciate all that he gave to our club,” Fire general manager Nelson Rodríguez said in the team's statement. “We saw this as a chance to allow him to return home while opening up his minutes for some other players.”

The question is which players Rodriguez is referring to. Alvarez played primarily at right midfield, frequently cutting inside with his dangerous left foot. Two players come to mind as possible fill-ins already on the roster: Daniel Johnson and Brandt Bronico.

Johnson was the Fire's first-round pick in the 2017 draft and showed flashes of ability, but dealt with injuries through much of the season and made eight substitute appearances totaling 125 minutes. He is a wide player, but was the opposite of Alvarez, typically playing on the left and cutting in on his right foot.

Bronico was the 2017 third-round pick and made only four sub appearances adding up to 53 minutes played. With such limited action it was difficult to gauge whether he could be a wide midfielder or should be played centrally. Either way, with Alvarez gone and Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic out for the first few months of 2018 with ACL tears, both Johnson and Bronico will have opportunities the way the roster is currently constructed.

More news is due later today with the expansion draft set for Tuesday. The Fire will announce the 11 players they are protecting. Homegrown players (Drew Conner and Mihailovic) won't need to be protected. The Fire have 17 others players that will be eligible for the expansion draft.