Fire

Fire sign another goalkeeper after Jorge Bava has surgery

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USA TODAY

Fire sign another goalkeeper after Jorge Bava has surgery

The transfer window closed when Wednesday came to a close, but MLS teams still have time to sign players unattached to teams.

It appears the Chicago Fire may be set to make another move after trading for defender Christian Dean on the final day before the transfer window closed. ESPN's Herculez Gomez tweeted that the team is set to sign goalkeeper Richard Sanchez.

UPDATE: The move was made official on Friday with the Fire sending a third round pick in the 2018 draft to Portland to move up in the allocation order. The Fire then claimed Sanchez in the allocation process. Sanchez is under contract through 2017 with options for 2018 and 2019.

Sanchez, 23, was born in California before moving to Texas and eventually playing for the well-respected FC Dallas academy. He signed with FCD as a homegrown player in February of 2011. Five months later he was the starting goalkeeper for the Under-17 Mexican team that won the U-17 World Cup in Mexico.

He did not make any appearances for Dallas and played on loan with the NASL Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in 2013. Sanchez moved to Mexican powerhouse Tigres in 2014, but didn't play for them either. His only appearances in Mexico came while on loan to second-tier team Tampico Madero.

At 23 and given his youth national team pedigree for Mexico it's reasonable to think there is some upside with Sanchez. However, his lack of professional playing time makes it uncertain what his role will be with the team. Gomez believes Sanchez could compete for the starting job.

The Fire's starting goalkeeper to start the season, Jorge Bava, had surgery on his elbow earlier this week and is out for the rest of the season. Matt Lampson has been the regular starting goalkeeper since May. Rookie Stefan Cleveland has been the backup since Bava got hurt.

Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said the team would look for a goalkeeper as a result of Bava's injury. It seems he found his guy, but Sanchez is more likely to be a potential long-term option than someone who could challenge for the starting job this season.

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.