The chapter on Major League Soccer's notable player acquisitions that first required a trade of intangible assets just got a bit longer.
The latest U.S. Men's National Team player to join MLS is Alejandro Bedoya. The Philadelphia Union made a move for the 29-year-old midfielder on Wednesday, the final day before the summer transfer window closes. Bedoya has played his entire professional career in Europe since leaving Boston College in 2008.
Where the Chicago Fire come into play is through the league's often confusing allocation order. Bedoya, as a national team player, is subject to the allocation order. The Fire, as the worst team in the league last year, had the top spot in that order. That means that even if Bedoya was set on going to Philadelphia, the Fire still had some negotiating rights that were worth enough to force the Union to fork over some intangible assets.
The Fire, which confirmed the details of the deal later on Wednesday afternoon, acquired Philadelphia's first round pick in 2017, both general and targeted allocation money and discovery rights on a player not named. The teams also swapped spots in the allocation order, with the Union moving up from No. 2 to No. 1. The Fire will return to the top spot in the allocation order with Philly using the top spot to get Bedoya, but that won't mean much because the order resets in 2017 and today is the last day teams can add players from outside MLS.
“This move is directly tied to other deals today and transactions to be completed in the coming months that will allow us to execute our plan and realize our on-field goals," Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez in the club's press release.
Earlier this year, the Fire traded the top allocation spot to the Colorado Rapids and in return moved up a few spots in the draft. Colorado used that spot in the allocation order to sign goalkeeper Tim Howard.
The Fire have secured the transfer of midfielder Aleksandar Katai from Deportivo Alavés of the Spanish La Liga, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.
This season’s breakout playmaker has been signed with Chicago through 2019, with a 2020 club option. Before the transfer, Katai was on loan from Alavés, which was set to expire after July.
The Serbian player has emerged as one of the most important pieces of the Fire’s offense this season. Since joining the club on Feb. 6, Katai has scored eight goals in 18 league matches, tying forward Nemanja Nikolić for the most on the team. Katai also has three assists in 2018.
The 27-year-old’s biggest game of the year came against New York City FC last month when he scored two goals to lead the Fire to 3-2 victory. His production this season in the MLS has been much more significant than it was in 23 matches with Alavés, where Katai only tallied three goals and four assists.
His transfer fee is unknown but, according to Sam Stejskal of MLSsoccer.com, he will be a “Targeted Allocation Money player” for the rest of this season and will not be a Designated Player until 2019. Whatever the official price was, acquiring Katai for a lengthier amount of time seemed like a must.
Throughout this season, the Fire were rumored to be in talks with legendary Spanish striker Fernando Torres. On Tuesday, he signed with Sagan Tosu, a Japanese club. The Fire signed Katai the next day, showing that the team was possibly waiting for Torres to leave the market.
Chicago will face the Philadelphia Union Wednesday night at Toyota Park, where Katai will look to continue his impressive season.
Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof was involved in a car accident on his way to practice Thursday morning that sent him to the hospital with minor injuries.
According to authorities and the Secretary of State’s Office, a box truck crashed into the Dutch player’s 2013 Volkswagen and another vehicle in the 5900 block of South Harlem. Kappelhof’s vehicle rolled over and two people fled from the scene.
The driver ran on foot and the passenger moved into the driver’s seat before driving the truck onto the Stevenson Expressway after the crash, officials said. After the damaged vehicle broke down, police say the same passenger tried to jump into the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Both were taken into custody.
Team officials said Kappelhof was treated and released from the hospital without indicators of a concussion. The 27-year-old was reportedly seen at Toyota Park after the crash and did not have any serious injuries. The other driver who was hit by the box truck was also treated, police said.
This season in league play with the Fire, Kappelhof has three assists in 16 games. The international product was a 2017 MLS All-Star and the Defensive Player of the Year for the Fire last season. He was signed in 2016 and has made one MLS Cup Playoffs appearance.