Fire

Fire trade into second round to make two picks

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USA TODAY

Fire trade into second round to make two picks

The Chicago Fire entered draft day with no second round picks, but traded with Toronto to land two early second round picks.

The Fire sent $75,000 in targeted allocation money to Toronto for the fourth and fifth picks in the second round. The Fire then took Louisville goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland with the 26th overall pick and followed up by taking Guillermo Delgado with the 27th pick.

Cleveland was a college teammate of the Fire's first round pick, Daniel Johnson, at Louisville. The Fire have two goalkeepers under contract in Matt Lampson and recently signed Jorge Bava. Cleveland could be one of the early favorites for the No. 3 goalkeeper spot, although he doesn't have a guaranteed contract and will likely face competition in preseason camp.

"We really like his approach to goalkeeping, his comfort away from the line, his steadiness, there’s an overall maturity to his game that we liked and we really like our goalkeeper corps now," Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said. "We think there’s a nice blend of hierarchy, age and experience so we feel very good about how that competition will begin at the start of training camp.”

Delgado, 22, was born in Madrid, but left Spain to play college soccer for Delaware. He quickly stood out with 15 goals and five assists as a freshman. He notched double-digit goals in all four years, including 12 goals and eight assists as a senior. He finished his collegiate career with 49 goals and 19 assists in 78 matches.

"I'm excited and thrilled to give everything I have on the field during the next year," Delgado said on the draft podium.

An extra wrinkle on the Delgado pick is that he would count as an international player for the Fire, as confirmed by the club. That gives the Fire nine international players with only eight international slots for them. That means either Delgado has an uphill climb to make the roster or the Fire have moves coming involving either a trade for an international slot or a move to trade away a current international player.

Soon after the draft Rodriguez was asked if Delgado was worth the pick as another international player.

“We selected him so that’s the answer," Rodriguez said. "What we believe is this is a very good player. A player who is dynamic off the ball, knows how to find space, knows how to exploit it. A proven finisher and has good pedigree. He got his soccer education, if you will, in Spain. Again a player that we believe adds a different element to what we currently have.”

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

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@JTHAZZARD

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

Portillo's has become a staple in the Chicagoland area due to its popular hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and now, its soccer jerseys.

OK, maybe one of these does not belong with the others. Regardless, Twitter user @JTHazzard created mock-up soccer jerseys mashing MLS teams and restaurants based in that team's city, and the Portillo's jersey is sweet. 

From the Portillo's logo taking center-stage to the picnic blanket pattern to the discrete Chicago Fire logo, this jersey is absolutely brilliant. The only change this writer would make is including the logo below instead.

Valspar is the current sponsor featured on the Fire's uniforms. If the team ever needs a new sponsor, though, Portillo's would be an excellent replacement.

Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon

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USA TODAY

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.