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.

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.