Defender Daneil Cyrus joins Fire on loan from W Connection


Defender Daneil Cyrus joins Fire on loan from W Connection

After inking Brazilian forward Gilberto to a Designated Player contract last Monday, Fire head coach Frank Yallop stayed true to his word and added another component to bolster his back line.  

The Fire acquired Trinidad and Tobago defender Daneil Cyrus on loan from TT Pro League side W Connection, who will be added to the roster upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and P1 visa, the club announced Thursday afternoon. 

“Daneil is a player we’ve been monitoring for a while,” Yallop said in a club statement. “He trained with us earlier in the year and had a number of impressive performances in the recent Gold Cup, so we’re pleased to add him to our side to shore up our defensive line as we head into the second half of the season.”

Cyrus, 24, began his professional career with FC Santa Rosa, whom he joined in March 2010 before being subsequently loaned to Caledonia AIA for two seasons.

[NBC SHOP: Buy a Fire jersey here]

The Trinidadian has some MLS experience, joining Sporting Kansas City on loan in the summer of 2011 and making his league debut against Toronto FC on July 23, 2011 as a substitute in a 28-minute cameo. He made one more appearance, starting against the New England Revolution a week later and notching 80 minutes before suffering a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot in a Reserve League match on Aug. 8, 2011.

After being waived by the club in February 2012, Cyrus signed with W Connection, linking with current Fire defender/midfielder Joevin Jones with the Savonetta Boys. Cyrus was snapped up by Vietnam V-League outfit Hanoi TT on loan on a one-and-a-half year contract on May 15, 2014, where he bagged one goal in 26 matches across all competitions in the process.

Cyrus, who made his senior debut for Trinidad and Tobago against Chile in May 2010 after plying his trade in the youth setup, has since earned 42 caps. He participated in the 2010, 2012 and 2014 Caribbean Cups, and 2013 and 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cups, helping the Soca Warriors to their second consecutive quarterfinal appearance while notching three starts for Stephen Hart's group this summer.

The move makes Cyrus one of nine defenders on the roster. Predominantly deployed as a center back throughout his career, he would likely vie for a place in Yallop's team alongside the likes of Adaílton, Jeff Larentowicz, Eric Gehrig and Ty Harden. 





Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon


Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon

As far as notorious players in MLS with a history of scoring big goals, Alan Gordon is one of the first names on that list.

The Fire signed the 36-year-old forward on Friday, continuing to add depth to a roster that appeared paper thin throughout the preseason. Gordon, who had been on trial with the Fire for part of the preseason and even after the season opener, signed a one-year deal.

Gordon adds plenty of experience from being in the league since 2004 and having scored 55 goals with five different teams. For the past few years he has been used primarily as a substitute, but has still maintained his reputation for scoring goals late in games.

At 6-foot-3 he brings plenty of size and strength to the team and is one of the best players on headers in the league. Last season the Fire failed to score directly off a set piece, which was both due to consistently poor service from corner kicks and a lack of players adept at finishing them off. Gordon should give the Fire a late-game option in that area.

Elliot Collier had impressed the Fire enough to earn a contract as a third-round pick and an international player and even came off the bench in the opening loss to Sporting Kansas City, but it appears the team wanted more experience at forward with Gordon.

Wild season opener shows plenty of things to work on for Fire

Wild season opener shows plenty of things to work on for Fire

If you were looking for entertainment, goals, plot twists and storylines, the Fire’s season opener had all of those boxes checked.

What it didn’t have was even a point for the hosts against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday at Toyota Park.

The first half showed a Fire team which very much looked like the “incomplete” roster that general manager Nelson Rodriguez referenced just before the season. KC led 2-0 and the Fire failed to get a shot on target, showing a lack of chance creation and any semblance of a dangerous attack.

The second half showed a Fire attack which was capable of turning the heat up on the visitors, but also a defense which couldn’t defend. Sporting's 4-3 win revealed that there’s plenty of work to do for the Fire to resemble the team that finished third in the MLS regular season last year.

“Especially in the first half we saw that we weren’t ready to compete with a team that had an advantage that they had one competition game before us,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “That was the main difference in the first half, but the adjustment in the second half was tremendous. I think just showing that we can score three goals that quickly and create even more opportunities was a positive.”

However, Paunovic wasn’t about to let his team off the hook by only speaking about positives.

“What we learned today is that we have to get better on every side of the game and in every aspect of the game,” he said. “We are not there. We didn’t have a good game. I think overall a lot of innocent and naive mistakes.”

After trailing 2-0 at halftime, the Fire revved things up in the final 25 minutes and Bastian Schweinsteiger keyed the first goal with a slick assist to newcomer Aleksandar Katai. Nemanja Nikolic showed the scoring instincts and finishing ability that won him the league scoring title a year ago by scoring two more goals to give the Fire the lead in the 82nd minute.

Then it all fell apart, with two KC goals within four minutes of Nikolic giving the Fire the lead. Dax McCarty, your thoughts?

“You’re 10 minutes away from the headline and the storyline being Chicago Fire show great character, make a fantastic comeback, win the game 3-2 and yet here we are sitting here, somehow losing that game, which is insane,” McCarty said. “It’s totally insane.”

The defensive struggles, which Paunovic pointed out mirrored last year’s early playoff exit in a 4-0 loss, will need to get resolved internally. Johan Kappelhof, Brandon Vincent and Matt Polster all started on a competent defense last year and McCarty and Schweinsteiger helped play damage control in midfield. This isn’t what the weakness of the team was supposed to be yet after one game, it’s all anyone on the team could talk about.

“We gave up four goals,” Kappelhof said. “That’s not good. Simple.”

While more additions may be coming in-season, as Rodriguez has mentioned, and injuries haven’t allowed the Fire to start 2018 fresh, this game wasn’t a good sign for what’s to come for the 2018 Fire. A lack of any offensive creation in the first half and a lack of defensive concentration, as Paunovic put it, throughout the game showed a team that has plenty of pock-marks currently.

“We don’t know how to defend, quite frankly," McCarty said. "From back to front, front to back, the defending aspect of our game was pretty poor. A lot of things to learn."

The good news is even if the Fire take some time to correct the errors from Saturday’s season opener, MLS is a forgiving league. A majority of the league, 12 of 23 teams, makes the playoffs and league-wide parity means teams can go through slumps and still end in good standing. A year ago, the Fire lost six games out of seven and still had the third best record in the league. It’s OK if the team takes time to iron out some organizational issues defensively, just don’t take too long.