Its not unusual for the Fire, or any Major League Soccer club, to decline options on players in preparation for the next season. Salary cap considerations play into such decisions as well as player performances.
This week, the Fire declined at least initially to bring back three players in preparation for Fridays start of the MLS re-entry draft.
Two were not surprising. Jay Nolly, the third goalkeeper, didnt play a game for the first team this season and rarely even dressed for one. Midfielder Corben Bone was the clubs first-round draft choice (13th overall) in 2010 but never made a significant impact.
The third player declined for 2013, however, was defender Gonzalo Segares. Hes been a mainstay at left back for eight seasons and also has been versatile enough to play in the midfield when needed. He was the clubs Defender of the Year in 2007 and has played in 178 games and 13 postseason matches for the Fire. His loss would be felt immediately.
Declining the option on Segares for next season was a calculated risk from the clubs perspective, and its not a done deal that he wont be back at least not yet. The re-entry draft represents a chance for players in their option years or out of contract to test their market value.
Segares can remain in the re-entry draft, in which each club puts such players up for selection by other teams. Such players from other league teams on this years re-entry lists include forward Juan Pablo Angel and midfielder Danny Califf of Chivas USA, defender Marvell Wynne of Colorado, midfielder Tony Tchani of Columbus and midfielder Julian de Guzman and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman of FC Dallas.
Also among the 63 players made available for the re-entry process are a trio who once did time with the Fire John Thorrington (now with Vancouver), Chad Barrett (Los Angeles) and Justin Mapp (Montreal).
They could be claimed by another team on Friday, provided that club is willing to meet the players current salary requirements. If not, the players will be up for bidding again on Dec. 14 without that restriction.
Only five players were selected on the first round of the re-entry draft since MLS has conducted it. More get chosen in the second phase, and the Fire landed defender Cory Gibbs via that method in 2010.
Things could change by Friday. Some of the players up for the re-entry draft will opt out of the process and sign with their present teams. They could also be traded or they could head to foreign clubs.
Seemingly, the re-entry draft begins the process for roster adjustments for 2013, but some teams have already taken major steps. Real Salt Lake sent Jamison Olave, the MLS Defender-of-the-Year in 2010, and striker Fabian Espindola, who had nine goals and seven assists this season, to the New York Red Bulls for allocation money that will presumably be spent to acquire a top level offensive player. RSL also picked up more allocation dollars by sending midfielder Will Johnson to Portland.
Olave, a two-time selection to the MLS Best XI, became expendable in part because of the development of Kwame Watson-Siriboe, a former Fire draftee who couldnt earn a place in Chicago.
In another personnel move, the Vancouver Whitecaps traded Atiba Harris, a striker for the St. Kitts & Nevis national team, to Colorado for an international roster spot.