The Chicago Fire had a busy transfer deadline day on Wednesday.
General manager Nelson Rodriguez talked about the busy day with reporters on Thursday. He opened by saying the team had two primary objectives this transfer window.
“One was to find a target forward, someone who could play in a more advanced position to Michael de Leeuw and another was just to overall improve our attacking depth,” Rodriguez said. “In terms of specific targets we hit both objectives with top choices.”
At 6-foot-4, Arshakyan could be that target forward and both players provide much-needed depth. Rodriguez said he thinks both fit well with de Leeuw, the only other true forward on the Fire roster.
Arshakyan was identified by coach Veljko Paunovic. After Paunovic identified Arshakyan through video, the Fire scouted him in person and he scored a hat trick in that game, according to Rodriguez. He comes from the Lithuanian league, which is not a very well-known or well-regarded league.
“You always make judgment as to whether you think a guy is ready or will fit or not fit,” Rodriguez said. “We feel really good about this one. It has a higher degree of risk, yes, but we also think we might have a higher degree of reward.”
The Fire had been after both players for a while. Solignac was viewed as a player that the Rapids would be willing to part with since he hadn’t been playing as much. Solignac, who has a club option on his contract for 2017, made no starts and four substitute appearances in the Rapids’ last six games.
“His goal-scoring productivity hasn’t been great for Colorado and this is not a criticism of Colorado, but he has never settled into a regular role there,” Rodriguez said. “That’s something that hopefully we can provide. Hopefully this change will energize him.”
Solignac is flying to Salt Lake to meet the Fire there for Saturday’s game at Real Salt Lake. Rodriguez said he expects him to play. Arshakyan will join the team once he gets his visa.
The bigger national news was Alejandro Bedoya signing with the Union. The Fire played a role in the move, acquiring allocation money and a first round pick from the Union for the top spot in the allocation order.
The allocation order is part of the long list of complicated and often confusing league rules. Rodriguez explained the Fire’s involvement in the transaction and how close they were to adding Bedoya.
“We considered adding Alejandro’s services very strongly and Pauno had a conversation with him and it went very well,” Rodriguez said. “Following that conversation, Alejandro through his representation suggested that ‘Hey you know what, Chicago does have something. I wouldn’t mind going there.’”
During the All-Star break last week, before the Fire had talked to Bedoya, the Union came to the Fire with the possibility of swapping spots in the allocation order. Two other teams also made offers to the Fire, but those were rejected.
“In the end, Philadelphia made a fair offer,” Rodriguez said. “Clearly an offer they were comfortable with and we made the decision that we felt was in our best interest.”
When asked about what team needs going forward, Rodriguez said “a dominant central midfielder” and more depth on the wing. Considering the Fire had a chance to get Bedoya, but ultimately did not land the U.S. national team midfielder that need remains, which raises the question of what type of player the team can acquire in the winter.
“I believe that we’re in a position, should we choose to do so or should we find the right player, that we can look to make another high-quality impact acquisition for next year,” Rodriguez said. “All of these moves through this window were done in such a way that we also didn’t need to use any general allocation money in this window to fit our roster budget together, which I think is a good sign.”