Fire

Report links Jakub Blaszczykowski to the Fire, but could it happen?

Report links Jakub Blaszczykowski to the Fire, but could it happen?

The Chicago Fire are on a winning run and Bastian Schweinsteiger's signing has broken the stigma that the club wasn't willing to spend big money.

So now when the Fire are named in rumors and reports, things are looked at with a more serious glance than in previous years.

The latest report is a fairly juicy one by MLS standards. A report out of Poland, picked up by NBC Sports, connected the Fire with Polish national teamer and Wolfsburg right winger/right back Jakub Blaszczykowski.

The Fire reportedly went after Blaszczykowski last summer, but he stayed in the Bundesliga and moved from Borussia Dortmund to Wolfsburg with a 5 million Euro transfer fee.

The 31-year-old has 90 caps for Poland and, even if he is past his prime, his resume and age indicate he would likely still be successful in MLS. The question is how would the Fire get him.

Blaszczykowski would likely require a high MLS salary. The Fire are full in designated player spots (Schweinsteiger, Nemanja Nikolic, David Accam) and are already using Targeted Allocation Money, the league's often confusing salary cap resource which can allow for mid-to-high six-figure salaries without a player counting as a DP, on Johan Kappelhof, Michael de Leeuw and Juninho.

In other words, if the Fire have interest in Blaszczykowski again this summer, it would likely mean another player would have to move first.

There has been question about the long-term future of Accam. Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez has said there were offers from foreign clubs for Accam last summer, but the Fire turned them down. Rodriguez also admitted that the team has broken off contract extension talks, which took place during last season, until after this season ends. The Fire have an option on Accam for 2018.

"I will not be surprised that there will invariably be some offers in the summer window," Rodriguez said on May 23. "We have not received any as of yet, but just knowing that we had them last year, knowing that he’s playing even better, that he’s in the prime ages, we have an expectation that something will come.”

To sell Accam in the middle of the Fire's best season in years would be a bold move, even if it came with the addition of Blaszczykowski.

As far as rumors go, Blaszczykowski makes sense due to the large Polish population in Chicago, but other dominoes would have to fall in place first before the move is possible. 

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

accam-traded.jpg
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.”