The Fire season is only four games old, but general manager Nelson Rodriguez teased more players will be joining the team in May.
Rodriguez spilled the big news on the Chicago Fire Weekly radio show on Saturday morning, ahead of the 1-0 win against the Philadelphia Union, saying the Fire have signed one midfielder and are expecting to add another player soon after.
“We have a signed contract with a young midfield player," Rodriguez said in the interview. "We won’t make that announcement for another week-to-10 days and that’s at the request of the team from whom the player is coming, which is involved in some important matches. It’s a central midfielder who we believe will complement our existing group and give us a little bit more size in there. A great intensity and desire to win, good in the aerial game and we think that that player will help us. We expect that player to join the team in early May, perhaps sooner, depending on the results of his team. That player will come on a loan with an option to purchase a contract.”
The second player is more of an attacking player. Both are international players.
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“We’ve also, although not contracted, we’ve reached agreement on all terms for a forward who can dabble a little bit wide and dabble a little bit as an attacking midfielder," Rodriguez said. "Really a goal scorer. Someone else who can help us with offensive efficiency. A player who is more experienced, has a proven goal-scoring record. We anticipate that that contract will be signed this month and that the player will join us before the end of May. We believe we’ll complete that in time inside of the first transfer window for MLS.”
The MLS transfer window closes on May 11 before reopening on July 4.
The Fire's revamped defense seems to be showing improvement with back-to-back shutouts, but possession play and finishing are still two areas of concern for the team. Paunovic said as much after the win against the Union. The Fire finished with 53.9 percent of the possession, and while a red card in the second half helped the Fire in that area, they were able to edge the first half possession with 50.6 percent.
“We improved our possession," Paunovic said. "We improved other parts of the game, too. I think we created a lot of opportunities again. We have to improve our finishing. Finishing is still something we have to improve."
The two additions Rodriguez talked about could help in these areas. Rodriguez added that the Fire may look within the league for other acquisitions. The final player movement nugget that Rodriguez gave was that he doesn't expect the Fire to be very active internationally in the MLS summer transfer window.
"Part of that will be, while we still have some funds remaining and at our disposal and those are MLS-centered funds, our scouting and recruitment is not evolved enough," Rodriguez said. "First, I have a concern about how good of a job we can do identifying and making sure that we’d be getting the right person. Secondly, history has shown that players who come midseason off of a full and complete long season tend to struggle in their first year in MLS. That’s why we’ve pushed for these two signings in this first window so that the players can join us in May. We can acclimate them, give them rest, still get them ready and have enough season left for them to make a difference."