Fire trade to add defensive depth, but mostly stand pat on trade deadline day


Fire trade to add defensive depth, but mostly stand pat on trade deadline day

There were plenty of rumors, but no moves through the summer transfer window for the Chicago Fire.

That changed on the last day of the window being open. The Fire made a trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday to add defender Christian Dean. Going the other way, the Fire sent $50,000 of general allocation money to the Whitecaps with the potential for more depending on Dean’s appearances with the Fire.

If Dean, 24, makes 12 or more starts in 2018, the Fire will send another $50,000 of targeted allocation money to Vancouver. Vancouver also retained a percentage of any transfer fees the Fire may get by selling Dean to a team outside the league by 2020. Dean’s contract is guaranteed through 2018 with options for 2019 and 2020.

Centerback depth is something Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez has said was something the team needed since early in the season. With Dean, the Fire now have four players at the position to go with Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira and Jonathan Campbell. In the short term, it would be surprising to see him get much playing time without an injury to one of the three players on the roster.

Dean, 24, was the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft after playing three years at Cal. He played nine times in his first two years with the Whitecaps, with four of those being starts. In 2016, Dean suffered a broken bone in his foot just before the start of the regular season and missed the whole year.

This season, Dean has made three starts for the Whitecaps and four more starts for the club’s USL team. For what it’s worth, in Dean’s three games this year, Vancouver played to a scoreless draw, a 3-2 loss and a 3-0 loss in which he was subbed out when it was 1-0 in the second half.   

He started three of the first five Whitecaps matches before suffering another foot injury. The Whitecaps listed his injury as a stress reaction in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot suffered in training on April 25.

The Dean trade isn’t likely to be significant to the 2017 Fire’s chances of success in the playoffs, but depth is a welcome addition at a position the team was thin at. For the most part, the lack of big moves shows that Rodriguez and the Fire were more or less satisfied with where the roster stands.

“We always said that we work on our roster almost without stop,” coach Veljko Paunovic said after training on Wednesday.

The Fire had brought in some defenders to train with the team as trialists, but none of them stuck. Just under two weeks ago, Rodriguez said he didn’t feel “comfortable” with the options the team had as far as filling out that defensive depth. He also said they wouldn’t add a player “just to check a box on a list.”

“I think it’s very important in these moments that we remain disciplined,” Rodriguez said then. “We have spoken about and had a three-year plan that admittedly is accelerated a bit by our ability to be nimble and capture opportunities. But the other part of our plan is where we try to create a championship program and to have sustainability.”

Throughout the summer there had been rumors of the Fire chasing Colombian national team player Juan Quintero. That move broke down, for this transfer window at least, with Quintero extending his loan spell at Colombian club Independiente Medellín for six more months.

Rumors of David Accam’s exit were rampant throughout the last few weeks, but it appears more likely that he will stay through the end of the season. While the MLS trade and transfer window closed on Wednesday, that only restricts players coming into or moving within the league. The transfer window for much of Europe closes at the end of August, meaning Accam can still leave, though it appears less likely that will happen without the Fire being able to add another player in his place.

So while the addition of Dean does fill a need, the lack of other moves show that the Fire mostly stood pat with the team that is currently second in the Eastern Conference.

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


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.

Notes from the rewatch: What stood out about the goals in Fire's win against Union


Notes from the rewatch: What stood out about the goals in Fire's win against Union

Normally when revisiting games there are trends or performances that stick out, but the most notable plays from Sunday's Fire win against Philadelphia were the goals.

Here's what stood out from the four goals that were scored from open play in the Fire's 3-2 victory.

Nikolic gives Fire early lead on long ball

Believe it or not this pass was a direct assist on the first goal of the game:

Brandon Vincent is barely beyond his own penalty box when he launches one for Nemanja Nikolic. The ball bounces three times before Nikolic gets his first touch on it. His second touch is a goal.

The pass itself is nothing special and a defensive error plays a part, but it's hard to believe a pass from that far back can result in an assist.

Philly’s first goal is a chain reaction

On the first goal for Philly, the play begins when Matt Polster is caught way too high in press. Philly was building out of back and Polster, the Fire's right back, pressed well past midfield to win a ball and didn't.

When he doesn’t win it, the ball falls to Fafa Picault behind him on the left wing. Next it's off to the races for the Union.

Center back Johan Kappelhof moves wide to cover for Polster and defend Picault, who makes a nice switch to Chris Pontius after the Fire appeared to be getting back in position. C.J. Sapong beats Joao Meira, who a minute before shook off a leg injury that forced him to have a significant limp after the match. Sapong probably had the edge in the first-step department at that point to get some separation. Kappelhof had to try to slide it away because Picault was waiting at the back post for a tap-in.

The Fire had a chance to recover, but it all started with Polster getting caught too high up the field.

Union string passes together to take lead

A Dax McCarty turnover gave Philadelphia possession and the Union combined passes for an impressive team goal. First it was eight straight passes before one was broken up, but Philadelphia immediately regained possession and connected 12 more passes. After an initial cross is headed away, the second pass after that is Haris Medunjanin chipping a pass to Alejandro Bedoya for the goal. Just an impressive team goal from the Union, even if goalkeeper Matt Lampson made things easier for Bedoya on the finish by coming off his line too early.

Nikolic shows his instincts for game-winner

As for the Fire’s third goal, just watch Landon Donovan and recently-fired New England Revolution coach Jay Heaps explain what happened:

(Note: The video appears to be down for some reason even though it's still linked on the homepage of The gist of it is that Nikolic did a great job delaying his run to find the space that set him up for the goal as opposed to crashing the six-yard box and being more tightly marked.)