With the March 1 roster compliance date just around the corner, the Chicago Fire continued to pare down their squad this week by cutting trialist Iván Guerrero (pictured above). The former Fire midfielder and defender spent the last three seasons with Motagua in his native Honduras, but the 34-year-old had hoped to catch on with his old club after moving his family to Chicago this winter.
“We have a tremendous amount of respect for [Guerrero],” coach Frank Klopas told reporters in a conference call on Thursday. “He’s an older guy, but he’s played in the league, he’s an experienced guy. It didn’t hurt for us to bring him in and look at him. It was a difficult decision from our part.”
The move leaves rookie Hunter Jumper as Chicago’s primary backup to left back Gonzalo Segares.
“We thought that Hunter Jumper has really good upside,” Klopas said. “We thought that the opportunities that he needs to get as a young player, we needed to give them to him. We felt very comfortable that if something happens to [Segares], this guy can step in.”
Guerrero said last week that he wanted to play two or three more years, but it’s unclear what his next step will be. Klopas said he’d like to keep the 2005 Fire MVP involved with the organization.
“Iván is a great guy, he’ll be in Chicago,” Klopas said. “He’s a guy we’ll look to keep involved through the academy, through the club, and I think he wants to continue with the organization and with soccer in some part. He’s a first class guy.”
Bautista rumors denied
Klopas disputed reports that the Fire are in talks with Mexican forward Adolfo "Bofo" Bautista.
The 32-year-old played for Mexico in the 2010 World Cup, but scored just one goal in 10 games for Querétaro last season.
“I have never reached out to Bautista,” Klopas said. “I have not reached out to any of his representatives. I think those are just rumors. … If it’s the player’s wish to come and play, it’s something that I do not know about, I have not been reached by anyone. There’s a lot of rumors out there, and I think that’s just one of them.”
Roster almost set
After Guerrero’s departure, the Fire’s roster is close to being set, and Chicago’s draftees look to feature prominently.
In addition to his confidence in Jumper, Klopas has liked what he’s seen from center back Austin Berry. Forward Lucky Mkosana may be at a disadvantage, however, as he has had to leave camp to finish his degree at Dartmouth.
“I feel comfortable with the depth we have on the team,” Klopas said.
“The guys that we drafted have done very well. Austin and Hunter, I think they’re very promising players,” Klopas said. “I think they’ve adapted very quickly. I think they both have the ability to contribute. With Lucky, it’s been a little different because he’s been going back and forth [to Dartmouth].”
Despite his confidence in Berry, Klopas said that he still plans on adding another center back to the mix before the season begins.