Fire Notebook: Klopas addresses DP rumors, club makes roster cuts and more

Klopas (Getty Images)

By DAVID GUBALA

The Chicago Fire are now a good two weeks into their first phase of preseason camp and have been making all of the necessary adjustments as the start of the new 2012 campaign nears. Part of the preseason activity, though, has included shooting down rumors of a superstar Designated Player acquisition.

There has recently been word making the rounds that Chicago is interested in acquiring German midfielder Michael Ballack and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba, but manager Frank Klopas issued caution regarding the rumors.

According to Klopas, he would love to sign a player of (Drogba)'s caliber, but there "have been no actual talks to acquire him."

Chances of Ballack coming over are also slim, as the Fire already have a pretty congested rotation of central midfielders. Recently acquired Colombian Rafael Robayo, Sebastian Grazzini, Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa, Logan Pause and Daniel Paladini are all already looking to claim starting roles.

Here are some more notes from the Fire's preseason:

MIKULIC, CUESTA, BANNER NOT RETURNING

There are a number of players who won’t be returning for the upcoming season and plenty of them have their own different reasons. Defender Josip Mikulic has parted ways with the club, leaving to Croatia due to family issues. Mikulic made 14 appearances with the club in 2011 and had frequently struggled with injury matters.

Another defender, Yamith Cuesta has also had his time with the Fire come to an end. Klopas explained in a conference call that the club did not manage to work out a deal with the Colombian centerback, who had been on loan in MLS for three years.

The longest-serving member of this non-returning list is Mike Banner. Banner had been with the Fire since 2007 and scored three times in 54 appearances after being drafted in the third round of the 2007 MLS SuperDraft. He did not appear in a Fire jersey in 2011 due to injury-related matters, and he has now turned to indoor soccer and signed with the Illinois Piasa, a member of the Premier Arena Soccer League.

The Fire also cut open tryout winner Fabrizio Pittaluga and trialists Jon Okafor, Omar Persad, and Walter Restrepo.

Klopas revealed that the Fire will have more players join the team on trial in the next phase of preseason. The club's senior roster is currently at 25 players. 

GUERRERO RETURNS FOR CAMP TRIAL

A long-time Fire fan favorite, Ivan Guerrero joined the Fire in early stages of preseason camp in Ave Maria, Fla., and Klopas explained how picking him up for a trial was a win-win situation for both parties.

"He [Ivan] moved his family to Chicago, so it was a no brainer to bring him into camp," Klopas said.

Guerrero made 74 appearances for the Chicago Fire, playing a vital midfield role for the team from 2005 until 2007. From then on, the Honduran ventured on to sign with the San Jose Earthquakes, D.C. United and Colorado Rapids before settling with C.D. Motagua of Honduras for the last three years.

Despite the opportunity, 34-year old still has much to prove in preseason and show that he has what it takes to compete for a spot in the Chicago midfield. 

A LOOK AHEAD

The Fire have one more exhibition game before they return to Chicago on Sunday. Saturday's match against Real C.D. Espana of Honduras will be played in New Orleans, and it is expected that players will transition from getting 30 minutes a game to now getting a full half.

The team will only have to bear with the Chicago cold for a couple of days, because the second phase of preseason training resumes Feb. 8-18 in Ventura, Calif. There, the Fire are slated to scrimmage the Portland Timbers and other to-be-determined opponents.

The third phase of preseason training is from Feb. 21–March 6, when the team will partake in the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, S.C.

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45 Responses to Fire Notebook: Klopas addresses DP rumors, club makes roster cuts and more

  1. AK says:

    Please… please stop with the trialists… please. I can’t take it anymore with the random eastern europeans and south americans being brought on out of obscurity.

    Open the checkbook and buy a great player. You haven’t had talks to buy Drogba? Why not?

  2. Jay says:

    I’m not going to another Fire game until they actually spend some money to get a marquee player. Third largest market in MLS can’t get at least two DPs? What a joke.

  3. Jim says:

    +1

    I had no idea that Chicago didn’t have a DP. They have the money and support to do it. It doesn’t have to be Drogba, but at least get one big name. There are many foreigners that would love to live in Chicago.

  4. AK says:

    This.

    I cancelled my season tickets prior to last season and wrote a letter to the front office indicating that I wouldn’t be repurchasing until actions were taken to bring in marquee players. They wrote me back and assured me that they would do everything in their power to field a championship caliber team… and then we missed the playoffs.

    FML

  5. THomas says:

    I’m with you guys. I didn’t go to one all of last year. I’m okay with getting mid-level guys from foreign countries, IF they play well.

    Please bring in a big name, it’s a big market, that will generate interest.

    Also please move your stadium to Chicago so people will start attending. I’d rather play in a cavernous stadium that is accessible than a soccer specific one far away.

    That is all for now.

  6. A. Ruiz says:

    @Thomas.

    Tell that to DC United, they would kill to have a stadium in a Bridgeview equivalent since 2006.
    Also, it’s not that far unless you live on the Far Northside. It’s perfectly fine for those living on the South side. Not saying that a SSS near downtown would not be better but come on, this is Chicago real estate. Who’s gonna pay for that…you? Me? Ives? Don’t think so.
    But if location was such a dealbreaker? Why are the Philly Union selling out a stadium if the Philly equivalent of Gary, Indiana? They’re about the same distance from downtown (about 30 miles) and they’re equally crime infected discards of the rust belt. Bridgeview isn’t anywhere near as bad.

    Seriously, I don’t know the answer to that. It’s interesting to think about.

  7. chris says:

    hahahahah what youre only going to watch the Fire if they sign a DP? A bunch of fairweather fans. How about you get a team that will actually win. DP’s dont guarantee a title, look at TFC they have 2 and they suck. This is the problem with this league fans that would rather see part their prime players than a wining team

  8. rjp says:

    As a South Side Fire Fan….Church! I agree, I like Toyota Park. It may be in the burbs, but it is our stadium, it is nice and atmospheric.

    Also, Ramadan there is an amazingly beautiful to see. Toyota Park is home to me a Catholic fan, my friend who is Indian Hindu, my Jewish girlfriend, and my muslim friends.

    It may be far from my home, but at least as a season ticket holder, it is my second home.

    I want Drogba and Ballack. I want DPs, but most importantly I just want to win anyway possibly. But win or lose, I will remain Fire till I die.

  9. RedLine55 says:

    DP doesn’t guarantee anything. The Fire have seen both sides of the DP equation — Blanco was (like it or not) an amazing acquisition and played extremely well for the team. Then you have Nery Castillo on the other side of the DP coin. In my opinion, it’s better to take your time and plop down big money for a great fit rather than just getting a big name just because. Anyhow, I’m not sure anyone has solved this equation up to this point.

    Also, I liked Guerrero and it’s good to see him back. I know Frank likes him a lot too, and I won’t be surprised to see him signed. He is pretty versatile, and I know this article says midfield, but he also saw a lot of time at Left Back (which might be needed this season).

  10. AK says:

    Castillo was a doomed decision from the start, a terrible move and should have never been given DP money.

  11. Walt says:

    TFC doesnt suck anymore…

  12. THomas says:

    You’re right…but perception has a lot to do with things as well. Not fairweather, just indifferent right now.

    Management is doing nothing to show they’re committed to winning. Signing a big name, big money guy will go a long way to appeasing fans who’ve grown indifferent.

    Just ask the Chicago Blackhawks.

  13. THomas says:

    Ya I like the Toyota Park, when I get to it. But as a mid-20′s guy, I also enjoy being able to throw a few back and not have to worry about who’s driving home. So do my non-Fire fan friends.

    It’s a lot harder to convince them to go to a game with me out there than to take a cab somewhere in the city for a game.

    So now I’m stuck being the lone person out of my group of friends looking to go.

    Every other sports team is located in the city and cabs, public transit, etc. can be used to get there.

    I love the park, but hopefully this lets you see where I’m coming from.

  14. shelsilverstein says:

    you guys are lame and shouldn’t call yourselves fire fans

  15. shelsilverstein says:

    the fair weather fandom in this thread is incredible

  16. kb says:

    Uh…where do you think the money comes from to sign a DP? Butts in seats. Not only do they get the money from your season ticket package but they can also show advertisers “we have xx customers who will see your ads every other week for 8 months!” you start canceling your season tickets and you give the FO less power to bring in the big bucks.

  17. Jeremy says:

    Give em a chance. Pardo and Pappa aren’t good enough for you? They missed the playoffs because of De Los Cobos. Watch the Klopas led team this year and be pleasantly surprised.

  18. jojo says:

    Being a fan is one thing. Being an all obedient zombie for a team is another thing. Real devotion is telling the person or organization you love they are WRONG when they are wrong. My parents always loved me but they DID NOT support me when I had my head up my behind. This notion of supporting your club regardless of their efforts is sickening. It is the same thinking that has propelled our nation into several ILLEGAL wars and given corporate oligarchs the ability to forge the Orwellian society we inhabit. American love it or leave it! “Fair weather fan”. Same BS to me.
    Does any one think critically anymore?

  19. RedLine55 says:

    Well said, there, THomas.

  20. abc says:

    ITT: lots of fairweather Fire fans embarrassing themselves. Boo hoo I won’t go to games until they get a DP or two. Not just any DP but a “big name” DP. And they must move their stadium closer to me!

  21. Gzegorz says:

    Those who are complaining about transportation to and from the city need to read the Section8Chicago boards and learn there are many busses from various points in the city to get to TP.

  22. abc says:

    “Management is doing nothing to show they’re committed to winning.”

    So signing a DP does that, but ACTUALLY WINNING like they did with Klopas last year does not?

  23. chris says:

    you cant forge an Orwellian society thats what Orwell was saying, its human nature. Sounds like you still got your head up your asss cuz there is a huge difference between the FO not doing anything and forging a winning team. They have made plenty of signings this year and were on a run towards the end of last year. Just because you sign a DP doesnt mean you will win.

  24. chris says:

    Yes, Yes they do. 3rd from last sucks

  25. beerbus says:

    Toyota Park may not be downtown, but it’s not as difficult to get to as you seem to think. Windy City Wanderers, The Globe Pub, and Section 8 all run buses from various bars around downtown and the north side. $10 to $15 gets you a ride to and from the park, plus beer to drink while on the bus. And if that doesn’t work for you, the orange line is another easy option. I have been a long-time season ticket holder and have never driven or taken a cab to a game. I have always felt lucky going to games in Chicago, especially after traveling and trying to get to Rapids and Revs home games without a car!

  26. AK says:

    I’ve given probably 20,000 over the past decade to the Fire through fundraisers, direct donations and season ticket packages.

    I can call myself whatever I want to call myself, and I have the right to remove my funding to make a statement about where the team is heading.

  27. kar says:

    I’ve been a season ticket holder since the day they went on sale and that’s not going to chance.

    I want to see the front office make intelligent moves, I’d like to have a DP that improves our play and generates revenues, I’m eager to be at Toyota Park for another amazing playoff atmosphere, and I long to see more hardware in our trophy case.

    But regardless, I’m a Fire fan and I support my club — it’s no longer a choice, it’s who I am.

  28. jojo says:

    I was simply addressing the disturbing trend to silence any critique of your club. Not if DPs are effective or not. Nor if the Fire in particular have not tried to make recent improvements. The verdict is still out on if the Fire will be successful in 2012. However, it is a fact that MANY Fire fans have an irrational, blind allegiance to their beloved team – regardless of how their team treats them. Moreover, when any other fan dares to exhibit any degree of dissent; they are aggressively shouted down as “fair weather fans”. War = Peace, 2 consecutive seasons not making the playoffs = a club that values it’s supporters. Really hope the Fire front office pays you well for your propaganda on the various boards.

  29. jojo says:

    That is silly and scary at the same time.
    Sounds like a “blood oath” that a WonderVogel would make to the Fuhrer.

  30. Modibo says:

    Here here! I live in Baltimore now, so going to a game for me means getting on the train for 1+ hours when they visit Philly or DC IF the game is on a weekend. And even if I can go – like last Oct 15 – I might not see all the action (like, oh, stoppage time) because I have go catch the train home.

    In other words, the trek that I used to take from the far Northside to TP via the beer bus looks like a cakewalk.

  31. chris says:

    hahahah propaganda? Im not even a Fire fan. Where did I say they have no right to critique their team. No where, but i did say it is stupid to boycott games because Chicago hasnt signed a big name DP. Wow Chicago didnt make the playoffs 2 whole seasons in a row during a transitional phase, im shocked. I could understand the demand for players if the FO wasnt making changes but they are and will suprise people this year. Wouldnt suprise me if they finish above the Red Bulls

  32. theraccoun says:

    I think you might be takin this a bit far man. Sheesh, calm down

  33. theraccoun says:

    I mean, you’re talking about this guy’s blind allegiance to a sports team. Maybe it’s not good to have blind allegiance to anything, but you’re talking about a blind allegiance to going to a park to throw back a few beers and watch his club play, maybe get a little riled up in the competition. I think your analogy stretches the seriousness of the situation a bit

  34. jojo says:

    Sport is the gateway drug to militarism.

  35. pierre says:

    That was last year….They are in the KO rounds of CCL and looked really good after they rehauled the lineup.

    What planet have you been on?

  36. Ossington Mental Youth says:

    we have 3 dps and you apparently didnt watch the second half of last season. Although I do agree that a team doesnt need dps and fans that are dependent on them shouldnt call themselves supporters, youre wrong on TFC.

  37. Sven says:

    Pause need to move to the backline. he doesn’t have the creativity for midfield, but he is a good defenseman.

  38. Clayton says:

    Because they can just pick up and move the stadium?

    Is everyone forgetting that we’ve had multiple DPs on the roster before and it did us no good? No need to get one just for the sake of getting one. If the right opportunity comes along, go for it. Otherwise we’re just going to end up wasting money like we did on Nery Castillo.

    That said, I’d love to see Drogba in Fire red and white…er…I mean Fire red and blue.

  39. Clayton says:

    It’s really not the hard to get there…There’s a shuttle from the orange line. Section 8 buses make it even easier and more fun. How do you get to Wrigley or Comiskey? CTA.

  40. Herd says:

    DCU has 3 DP’s and Chicago has none? Cheapos

  41. Ricky B. Free says:

    Look its soccer guy, its nice to see that you are up to your old tricks.

  42. Ryan says:

    Drogba would be ridiculously expensive. It’s not like just throwing 1-2 million out there. He was just offered a huge deal in China. Fire would have to be competitive for him to even think about him coming to MLS at this point in his career.

  43. Ryan says:

    They have had DP’s the last few years. You do realize that, until last year with LA winning, NO MLS TEAM had ever won the MLS cup with a DP on the roster? It’s not about brining in a big name for the sake of doing it. They have to fit in with team chemistry and structure. Thankfully you are not in charge of personnel decisions.

  44. Ryan says:

    Klopas said when the right big name becomes available, we will be in. If you want to not come because there is no Beckham, that is your choice of course. I prefer the park full of true fans anyway.

  45. Ryan says:

    Grazzini and Pardo were both great for us. They aren’t DP’s. Why is everyone stuck on having the big name. Yes, I agree it would be nice, but you don’t have to have a DP to win an MLS Cup. Every team that won the cup before LA last year has proven that.