Chicago Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez spoke to the media in a conference call Tuesday afternoon and revealed key details about the rest of the offseason.
The highlights were the promise of one or two European center backs to join the squad, at least two MLS free agent signings to be announced in less than a week and an update on the status of the No. 1 pick in Thursday’s MLS SuperDraft.
The biggest reveal was that the Fire have agreed to terms with a European center back. Rodriguez said the contract is not yet signed, but they expect it to go through. In addition, the Fire have made a “competitive offer” for a second European center back, who also has Champions League teams interested in him.
“Our priority has always been and remains to some degree the center back position,” Rodriguez said. “We have agreed to terms with a European center back. That contract is not yet signed, but we have no reason to believe that there will be any hangups. We have an outstanding offer out to a second European center back. In that instance we are competing with Champions League teams for him and we’re hopeful.”
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Rodriguez also detailed that the second European center back would not be a designated player, but rather a player that the team would use the new targeted allocation money.
“We would be very excited to acquire this player, but obviously it’s a challenge and it’s a global market,” Rodriguez said. “We’re competing against that global market. I know that our offer is competitive and I know that our project of where we are taking Chicago Fire is competitive. I know that because the representative of that player has contacted us each of the last two days to say ‘We remain interested in the Fire, can you give us a few more days?’ Being that we don’t feel the need to impose a deadline we are also targeting other center backs alternatives to that one. We have contingencies in play and we will continue to work that. The second one would be another good one to go with the one we’ve agreed to terms.”
In news that sounds more imminent, the Fire have agreed to terms with two Major League Soccer free agents.
“In less than a week’s time we will announce two MLS free agents with whom we’ve reached terms,” Rodriguez said. “We are simply waiting on the requisite paperwork from the league.”
Rodriguez also noted that the Fire’s first round pick in Thursday’s draft, which is the No. 1 overall selection, could potentially be traded. According to Rodriguez, the Fire received two offers on Tuesday, which was the last day of the MLS Combine, and have already rejected an offer they received about a month ago. The two offers the Fire received were “extremely similar.” In addition, three or four other teams have “inquired about the pick.”
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Rodriguez detailed what it would take for the Fire to trade the pick, although he added that the team has not decided whether the pick will be traded or not.
“If we’re going to trade the No. 1 choice overall we need what we call an accelerator,” Rodriguez said. “That would be a player that we believe is a starter at a more advanced or even a better level than what the No. 1 pick may project to be. Or we need a multiplier, and that would be some combination of assets that allows us to secure at least two players, whether that’s a starter and a pick, a player and an allocation or TAM money, two picks, whatever the case may be.”
Rodriguez spoke to the media for about 35 minutes and some other highlights are listed below. Stick with CSNChicago.com for a more in-depth preview ahead of Thursday’s draft.
- The coaching staff is nearly complete and that announcement is coming soon:
“We will look to make an announcement on the full coaching staff in about a week’s time. We are still finalizing one position, but the staff has been working together and dutifully so and we feel good about that.”
- On the lack of announcements with only 14 players on the current roster:
“I know announcements haven’t been publicized yet, but I wouldn’t want that to be misconstrued as there hasn’t been work conducted or results achieved.
“For sure, in an ideal situation you have 95 percent of your team in place by the first day of training camp, and oh by the way we may still be there. I don’t mean to suggest that we can’t get there or won’t get there, but we won’t use Jan. 25 [the first day of the Fire’s preseason] as the deadline.
“I don’t think the fans are frustrated. I think the fans are smart. We don’t conduct our business to win a day of positive PR. We conduct our business to win a championship. It’s more important to me that we remained disciplined with our process and we remain focused against our plan, and that we remain nimble as you react to some unforeseen circumstances or some opportunities that may arise. I think fans appreciate that. They appreciate it better when it all comes together. The process can be viewed as either boring or slow, but in the end no one is going to remember that we didn’t make an announcement on Jan. 11. They’re going to remember what our record was and how we performed so that’s what drives us.”