Kevin Ellis

Fire plug some holes with a pair of depth signings

mclain-ellis.jpg
USA TODAY

Fire plug some holes with a pair of depth signings

Injuries have depleted the Fire's depth this preseason and with the season opener a day away, the Fire made a pair of signings to fill in at positions especially thin at the moment.

The Fire signed goalkeeper Patrick McLain, who played with the team in 2016, and defender Kevin Ellis, a seven-year league veteran who was a Sporting Kansas City homegrown signing.

McLain fills an immediate need with just two goalkeepers on the roster previously and one of them, expected starter Richard Sanchez, is listed as questionable for Saturday's game with a left elbow injury. McLain gives the Fire two fully healthy goalkeepers, joining second-year player Stefan Cleveland. The 29-year-old made one start with the Fire in 2016, the season finale, and has made three career MLS appearances.

McLain's deal is for one year with club options each of the next two years.

As for Ellis, he gives the Fire a healthy backup at center back. Both Jonathan Campbell (facial fracture) and Grant Lillard (knee) are out for Saturday's game, leaving the Fire with two center backs (Johan Kappelhof and Christian Dean) before Ellis was signed. Ellis was waived by Kansas City on Feb. 27 and joined the Fire as a trialist initially.

Ellis made five starts with SKC last year, but was a regular starter with the team in 2015. He made 26 starts in 2015 and combined for 58 starts and 68 MLS appearances in the past five years. Ellis is signed for one year with the Fire holding an option for 2019.

In addition to the injuries to Campbell and Lillard, and the ACL recoveries of Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic, four players are listed as questionable for the season opener: Sanchez, Luis Solignac (left hip), Rafael Ramos (right thigh) and Daniel Johnson (right ankle). This added urgency for the Fire to add extra players to the roster. Solignac was a regular starter last year and Johnson could be in line for more minutes with the departure of Arturo Alvarez, who was the first attacking midfielder/winger off the bench for most of 2017.

The Fire's roster is now at 27 with these two signings along with the recent signings of rookies Elliot Collier and Diego Campos. Trialists Omar Castro and Albert Ruiz are still with the team, but remain unsigned. Maxi Moreira, who was on trial with the Fire for much of the preseason, is no longer with the team.