Fire sign deadline deal to bring back former catalyst Rolfe
Chris Rolfe is headed back to Chicago.
The Fire announced on Monday that they have reacquired the 29-year-old striker following three seasons in Denmark, giving the club a valuable offensive threat and one of the catalysts for the team’s five straight postseason appearances from 2005-09.
The Fire retained the right of first refusal for Rolfe when he rejected their offer in 2009 and eventually left the club for Danish Superliga side Aalborg BK in January 2010.
Rolfe is expected to return from Europe to Chicago on Monday night and will be eligible for selection when the Fire play at Toronto FC on Saturday. Monday marked the final day for MLS teams to make a move for international players before this summer.
“I’m thrilled to return to Chicago and play for the Chicago Fire,” Rolfe said in a statement. “The Fire has always been a special place for me. I look forward to getting in and putting in the work to help the team.”
Used in various spots in the lineup during his five seasons with the Fire, Rolfe proved to be one of the most dynamic offensive players in the league before he tried his hand in Europe. His best statistical year came in 2008, when he scored nine goals and added eight assists while splitting his time between the right midfield spot and stints as a withdrawn forward.
Rolfe finished his first spell with the Fire with 40 goals and 20 assists in 149 games across all competitions, including for goals and two assists in 10 postseason games for the club.
He scored at least six goals each season he was in the league and was an automatic starter when healthy - even during large spells as a rookie, when he scored eight goals and added five assists in 29 games. Drafted in the third round of the 2005 MLS SuperDraft out of Dayton, Rolfe finished the season as the Fire’s top scorer and a runner-up to former New England Revolution defender Michael Parkhurst for the MLS Rookie of the Year.
Rolfe parlayed his success at the club level into brief tastes with the US national team, amassing 10 caps, including his most recent one in 2008.
Rolfe's last match with Fire was a loss in the Eastern Conference Championship to eventual MLS Cup champs Real Salt Lake. The Fire have not been back to the postseason since.
He appeared in 32 matches for Aalborg BK, tallying six goals, and was a regular starter when not sidelined by injury.
“We are excited to have Chris rejoin the Chicago Fire,” Fire head coach Frank Klopas said in a statement. “Chris is a proven goal scorer with experience in MLS and abroad. Chris will help us as we push for the MLS Cup Playoffs and we are happy to welcome him back to the club.”
The Fire are winless in their last two games and have scored just three goals in four games this season, and have failed to score multiple goals in any game this season.