Fire

Fire reportedly trying to add Colombian World Cup goal scorer

Fire reportedly trying to add Colombian World Cup goal scorer

The summer transfer window in Major League Soccer opened just a day ago and the Chicago Fire are already being linked to a potentially big move.

Following up on a pair of previous reports, ESPN's Jeffrey Carlisle reported that the Fire are in line to sign Colombian playmaker Juan Quintero. Quintero, 24, has been under contract with Portuguese club FC Porto, but has been on loan the past two years after struggling to break into Porto’s lineup.

He has a World Cup goal on his resume (in 2014 against Ivory Coast), but won’t come cheap. His age, and the fact that Porto paid $10 million for him would make him an expensive addition.

ESPN's Taylor Twellman first reported the Fire were in the mix to add Quintero.


Paul Tenorio reported that the Fire have Quintero’s MLS discovery rights, which means the Fire could flip his rights to another MLS team to get some form of MLS assets (likely allocation money) if they aren’t the ones to seal the deal. Orlando had also been connected to Quintero, but Carlisle's latest report said Orlando has dropped out of the running.

If it happens, the move won't be simple for multiple reasons that don't even include the negotiations with Quintero and Porto. First, the Fire already have the league maximum three designated players (David Accam, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Nemanja Nikolic). That means the Fire will have to buy down Accam's salary against the cap using one of the newer league mechanisms, targeted allocation money, to open up a DP spot. Accam has the lowest salary of the three Fire DPs.

On top of that, the Fire will have to do some maneuvering to either acquire or free up another international spot. The Fire currently have all eight spots filled and that doesn't include midfielder John Goossens, who is currently not counted because he is on the disabled list since getting hurt in the season opener. If Goossens remains out all year the Fire will still have to trade for an international spot, trade away or cut loose a player currently taking up a spot or have a player receive a green card to count as a domestic player. Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said in May that one player may receive his green card by the end of the summer window, which closes Aug. 9.

Quintero would be a high-profile addition to both MLS and the Fire in a very different way from Schweinsteiger. Schweinsteiger was a world famous international name with a proven track record. Quintero is a player entering his prime who has played, and scored in, a World Cup for a strong national team in Colombia. Plenty of teams around Europe would take him so it would be a notable get from that perspective for MLS, which is trying to change its reputation from some as a league where former stars finish their careers.

As Fire near playoffs, Bastian Schweinsteiger's immediate and long-term futures are in question

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USA TODAY

As Fire near playoffs, Bastian Schweinsteiger's immediate and long-term futures are in question

Bastian Schweinsteiger has delivered on the promise of a big name star since joining the Fire in late March. He has produced on the field, drawn lots of attention to the club, the team has won enough to get into its first postseason since 2012 and, until recently, he stayed healthy.

However, the 33-year-old German has played 19 minutes in the previous six matches and told reporters on Wednesday that he will not play in the regular season finale in Houston on Sunday. He missed four straight matches with a calf injury before returning against New York City FC on Sept. 30 for a substitute appearance.

Schweinsteiger left practice early with what appeared to be a reaggravation of the injury on Oct. 4 and now it is known that will cost him at least two games. With the playoff picture still in flux (the Fire can finish anywhere from second to fifth in the Eastern Conference), the Fire could potentially face a three-day turnaround and travel after the Houston game or could have a first-round bye. Keeping Schweinsteiger fresher for that crunch of games could end up being a good thing, but it also runs the risk of his match fitness not being at 100 percent for the postseason.

Beyond the postseason, Schweinsteiger dropped this tease of a nugget to the Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz just an hour before Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez spoke with reporters for almost an hour at Toyota Park.

Schweinsteiger, who was not at training, was autographing memorabilia in the form of soccer balls, posters and jerseys. Chicago Red Stars fans may get a kick out of the fact that Schweinsteiger was wearing a Red Stars hoodie.

Initially, the club said Schweinsteiger signed a one-year contract with a mutual option. Later in the day, when asked about Schweinsteiger's future, Rodriguez said the mutual option doesn't have a set number attached to it.

"That would require a negotiation," Rodriguez said. "It was mutual in a sense of we didn’t want either party to feel bound without having had the year of experience to draw on. From our perspective, our experience has been extraordinarily positive with Bastian. We think he’s delivered across all of our expectations and we hope that we have delivered against his expectations.”

So in essence, there is no mutual option. Schweinsteiger and the Fire have to come to terms again on a deal for the German to return in 2018. That's not to say Schweinsteiger can't come back, but there's nothing in writing that binds the two together for next season.

Rodriguez said talks have only begun in the very preliminary stages at this point.

“The most that Basti and I have done is, both said, hey this has gone pretty well." Rodriguez said. "You like it. I like it... So I think we want to remain with our original plan. It was to look to have the hard discussions at the end of the season. My view is in-season negotiations always prove to be a distraction, whether to the player or to me. There can be a team element if it becomes public.

"I don’t want to speak for Basti, but from what we’ve gleaned and what he shared with us, he and (wife) Ana (Ivanovic) are very comfortable in the city. They love it. I think he’s really enjoyed the locker room, the guys, the support of the fans. I think he’s really taken to the challenge of Major League Soccer. I think the signs are positive, but again we would prefer to have the season close before finalizing anything.”

Special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast: What’s wrong with U.S. Soccer?

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AP

Special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast: What’s wrong with U.S. Soccer?

It's a special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast!

Dan Santaromita, Justin O’Neil, JJ Stankevitz and Tom Cooper try to answer all the questions that surfaced after the U.S. failed to qualify for the World Cup. What went wrong in qualifying, who was at fault, what can be fixed, will things get better? Has any American soccer fan calmed down even a week after? The four on the panel sure still are plenty fired up.