Chicago Fire set to replace DP Sherjill MacDonald with Ecuadorian signing who "fits our league better"
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire are in the process of bringing in a 24-year-old Ecuadorian forward, president of soccer operations Javier Leon told reporters on Saturday.
The new acquisition, who will arrive next week if the process goes smoothly, will be a Designated Player solely because Chicago will pay a transfer fee, Leon said. He will sign a two-year deal with a third-year option.
While Leon declined to divulge the player's a name, he did give a detailed description of the new signing.
“When you look at his record of scoring in Ecuador, it's not huge because he's young, and then he ended up going to Argentina,” Leon said. “He's a young guy so we expect him to continue to grow. I think he has incentive to be part of their national team."
Much of that résumé fits rumored transfer target Juan Luis Anangono, played for Barcelona and El Nacional in Ecuador before heading to Argentinos Juniors in Argentina. He also played two minutes in Ecuador's 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw against Argentina on June 6, his only international cap.
If true, he will step into a Fire attack that has recently become crowded. With Mike Magee a lock to start, Chris Rolfe, who scored twice on Saturday, would likely have to move to midfield if he starts at all.
“It's great to compete, no?” Leon said. “I think that nowadays you are starting to see in MLS, teams also starting to have more rotation. A team that I think has done very well this year, for example, Real Salt Lake has four forwards that are sort of starting in different games. I think it's great, Chris is already doing very well. It's a good problem to have.”
Leon also said the club is looking to loan current DP striker Sherjill MacDonald, who hasn't started a game since April 27.
It's not a surprise to MacDonald, who has not scored a goal yet this season.
"My agent spoke to Javier and Guillermo [Petrei, Chicago's VP of soccer operations],” the Dutch forward told Chicago-Fire.com. “We keep in good contact and we’re working to get a solution for the situation to get me some more playing time.
“I haven’t had the best season so I understand the Fire’s side that they want to change the situation and bring someone else in and I think from both sides it’s understandable. As long as I’m here, I’m still happy to be here. I love my teammates, and right now I’m still a Chicago Fire player.”
MacDonald is the latest big-money foreign signing for Chicago who has not panned out as hoped in recent years.
Uruguayan Federico Puppo, who was also a Designated Player, started just one game before being loaned out last year, and other recent acquisitions Álvaro Fernández, Guillermo Franco and Rafael Robayo came and went with limited impact.
Midfielder Alex is the only regular starter who Chicago originally acquired on the international market.
But Leon, who has talked about the Fire's new and improved international scouting system throughout the season, said he has reason to believe the new signing will be different. He said that the club did exhaustive research on its new signing, including talking to former Columbus Crew playmaker Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who currently coaches Argentine club Lanús.
“At the end of the day, we're judged based on performance I do believe that we can do better,” Leon said. “In this particular case, I do believe that the profile of the player fits better our league.”