Fire

Johan Kappelhof's MLS All-Star selection not the biggest thing to happen to him in the past week

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USA TODAY

Johan Kappelhof's MLS All-Star selection not the biggest thing to happen to him in the past week

Johan Kappelhof is having an eventful week.

The Chicago Fire defender got named to the MLS All-Star Team on Tuesday, but that wasn’t even close to the most important thing to happen to him in the past few days. While the Fire were still on break, Kappelhof got married on Saturday back home in Amsterdam.

“It was a special week for me,” Kappelhof said. “It was a stressful week, but it was a beautiful day. I’m happy that I’m a married man now and I’m back to play again.”

Kappelhof got 10 days off in total, taking advantage of a league-wide break for the group stage of the Gold Cup. With the hectic week behind him, Kappelhof is happy to return to normalcy, although he did joke that he now has to figure out if he should take his ring off or cover it when he plays.

“It feels good to be back, to do what I love to do, to play soccer,” Kappelhof said. “I’m used to that. I’m not used to getting married so this was a great day for me, but I’m happy to be back on the training pitch.”

Not long after returning to Chicago, Kappelhof got more good news. When he arrived to training Tuesday morning, Kappelhof received word that he was picked for the All-Star Game along with teammate Dax McCarty.

“It was a surprise for me,” Kappelhof said. “I’m very excited and very thankful for the coaching staff who elected me for the game. I will give everything to give that back to them.”

Fire coach Veljko Paunovic is coaching the team and made 11 selections in addition to the Fan XI vote. Nemanja Nikolic and Bastian Schweinsteiger were included on the Fan XI. Kappelhof and McCarty joined as selections by Paunovic to give the Fire four picks, more than any other team.

“Dax and Johan will help us balance the team, be more competitive,” Paunovic said. “It’s obviously a great achievement for two of them, very happy for them, very happy also for our club where we are now. I think that this is the first time since a long time ago that we have four All-Star players, which is also another achievement.”

McCarty is the only Fire All-Star who has been selected before. He was also an All-Star in 2015.

David Accam was not included on the roster despite being top five in both goals scored and assists, the only player in the league who can make that claim. The full roster is available here.

The All-Star Game will take place at Soldier Field in Chicago. The MLS All-Stars will play Real Madrid on Aug. 2.

Fire stay busy on draft day, trade David Accam to Philadelphia

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USA TODAY

Fire stay busy on draft day, trade David Accam to Philadelphia

The dominoes continue to fall on the Fire's offseason, and seem to be doing so at an increasing pace.

After making two trades on draft day, the blockbuster move of the day broke after the first round completed. As first reported by Paul Tenorio and later announced at the draft, the Fire traded winger David Accam to Philadelphia for $300,000 in General Allocation Money and $900,000 in Targeted Allocation Money. The $1.2 million total is among the biggest allocation money trades in league history.

The move will have major implications on 2018 due to Accam's production since joining the Fire in 2015, but also because it likely is a move to set up other moves. Accam had his best year with the Fire in 2017 with 14 goals and eight assists while only making 24 starts (30 appearances in total).

"David had three very strong years for us and as we move forward though, we thought this would help," general manager Nelson Rodriguez said after the draft.

However, he had voiced his displeasure about being left off the All-Star Game roster by coach Veljko Paunovic, saying he was "disappointed my coach ignored me." Accam seemed to be appeased when the Fire picked up his option for 2018 in August. With his contract situation somewhat more sorted out, it appeared Accam may still have a future with the Fire despite having previously stated a desire to return to Europe at some point in his career.

Despite that history, Rodriguez said the Fire did not initiate talks for the trade.

"David never asked to leave," Rodriguez said. "I think he was surprised by the trade, but you’d have to ask him. It came together over the past week while we were in Florida for the combine and Philadelphia for the draft. The Union was aggressive in its bid and its intention.”

Rodriguez admitted to interest in Accam both from abroad and within MLS in the past. He explained the timing of why the trade was made now and other offers were turned down in the past.

“This was the most attractive offer we had in this window," Rodriguez said. "Circumstances change. We’re different today than we were in August when there were some other offers from overseas clubs. We just felt that this was an opportunity for us to try to advance our championship program in a different way and we thought it was a fair deal for both parties.”

While the move is a big one for Philadelphia in getting a player like Accam, the Fire likely aren't done. This is typically not the type of move that is made without another move in mind. Juan Quintero rumors continue to float around with the Fire and Argentine club River Plate both being mentioned as possible landing places for the Colombian international who has scored at a World Cup.

With Accam leaving, the Fire have an open spot for a Designated Player. Nemanja Nikolic and the recently re-signed Bastian Schweinsteiger are the two DPs on the roster.

Fire deal goalkeeper Matt Lampson to complete draft day trade

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USA TODAY

Fire deal goalkeeper Matt Lampson to complete draft day trade

Draft day is never boring with Nelson Rodriguez in charge.

The Fire's general manager made two trades to get into the top 10 and one of them sent the starting goalkeeper for much of the 2017 season away to Minnesota. As part of a deal to land Jon Bakero, Matt Lampson went the other direction to the Loons.

The Fire sent $100,000 of Targeted Allocation Money and $75,000 of General Allocation Money as well as the No. 15 pick. Lampson was announced later because he needed to be notified before it was made public.

The interesting thing about Lampson's inclusion in the trade is that the Fire had already sent a decent amount of value to Minnesota. D.C. United traded the No. 3 pick to Los Angeles FC for $100,000 in TAM and $100,000 in GAM. Dallas gave $200,000 in GAM to Montreal for the No. 4 pick. The Fire sent $25,000 less in allocation money than the previous two picks went for but added the No. 15 pick and Lampson.

“That was a function of needing to close the deal to get Jon Bakero," Rodriguez said after the draft of Lampson's inclusion in the trade. "Minnesota values Matt and his ability and it was clear to us that we would not be able to complete the deal without his inclusion."

Lampson, initially a Columbus Crew homegrown player, signed with the Fire after trialing with the team in the preseason of 2016. Lampson made 11 starts in 2016, battling Sean Johnson for time between the posts. In 2017, he began the year as the backup to Jorge Bava but won the job and finished the year with 24 regular season starts and started the playoff defeat to the New York Red Bulls.

After Richard Sanchez, who made two starts in the latter part of 2017, was brought back and Jorge Bava exited, it appeared Lampson and Sanchez would be battling for the starting job in 2018. Sanchez and Stefan Cleveland, a second round pick last year, are the two goalkeepers on the roster currently.

"With only two signed goalkeepers, between Richard and Stefan, for sure, just in terms of numbers, we need to add a third," Rodriguez said. "We’ll continue to work through our scouting lists in that position and you also never know what will come available within the league that might be of interest. That position remains incomplete.”

Four goalkeepers were drafted in the first round on Friday, something Rodriguez pointed to which could create more options for the Fire to trade for at that position.

"That might create some competition and if it does there might be some goalkeepers who previously were unavailable and might become available who we would need to consider," Rodriguez said. "So the solution could come from within the league, the solution could come from Richard and Stefan, or we will have to add a third goalkeeper anyway for competition and numbers so we’ll see if it’s from outside.”