All is still quiet on the player addition front for the Chicago Fire this offseason, but there has been some activity for the club.
Thanks to the Fire’s league-worst record in 2015 the club has the first pick in not only January’s SuperDraft, but also in the waiver draft, the re-entry draft and the allocation order.
The Fire passed in the waiver draft, which took place on Dec. 9. Only one player was selected in the draft with Colorado taking midfielder Michael Azira from Seattle.
Next up was the re-entry draft on Dec. 11. The Fire traded the top spot to FC Dallas for general allocation money and Dallas’ spot in the re-entry draft. Dallas used the pick on Portland forward Maxi Urruti. Dallas had a need at forward after parting ways with Panamanian international Blas Perez and the Fire clearly didn’t have anyone they were targeting since they passed with Dallas’ 17th pick. If nothing else, the Fire gained more salary cap flexibility while giving up only an asset that had no use to them.
The only other player taken in the re-entry draft was former Fire goalkeeper Alec Kann, who was selected by Sporting Kansas City. Kann, 25, joined the Fire in 2013 and made his first team debut in the 2015 season finale against the New York Red Bulls.
The second stage of the re-entry draft takes place Thursday. The key difference between the first stage and the upcoming second stage is that in the first stage teams must pick up the player’s 2016 contract option while in the second stage teams are allowed to negotiate a new contract at a lower price. More moves are expected in the second stage. The Fire again kick things off with the first pick. The full list of eligible players is on the MLS website (minus the since selected Urruti and Kann).
In other news, academy director Larry Sunderland is headed to Portland for a similar job, as first reported by Fire Confidential. Sunderland has been with the Fire since 2008 and headed an academy that helped produce four players on the 2015 roster. The club’s U-17/18 team won the Development Academy national championship in July.
Sunderland’s departure means the Fire could have new faces in every major leadership role within the technical staff at the start of the 2016 season. General manager Nelson Rodriguez joined the club in September, coach Veljko Paunovic was hired in November and technical director Brian Bliss’ future is still to be determined after the SuperDraft.
Meanwhile, MLS has its first free agent signing. Former Fire midfielder Justin Mapp left Montreal to sign for Sporting Kansas City on Monday. Mike Magee, Jeff Larentowicz, Jon Busch and Ty Harden are the Fire’s first free agent class. None have picked a new home yet.