After scoring just two goals in their five games since attacking midfielder Sebastián Grazzini left the team on a personal leave of absence, the Chicago Fire clearly needed offensive reinforcements.
They further bolstered their attack on Friday by adding their second attacking Designated Player of the week, acquiring Álvaro Fernández from the Seattle Sounders for allocation money three days after announcing the signing of Dutch striker Sherjill MacDonald.
“I think it’s important to get a guy like [Fernández],” head coach Frank Klopas Klopas told reporters in a conference call on Friday. “He does score goals, he’s been dangerous in the air from the games I’ve seen him. I just think he’s a very good player and he can come in and play. He’s fit, he’s been playing, he knows the league, he’s someone who’s been productive in the league.”
Fernández’s arrival gives Klopas plenty of options in the midfield.
The Uruguayan outside midfielder may push Marco Pappa to the middle of the field, while Klopas said he hopes to use Chris Rolfe as a second striker.
“Ideally, you need to have cover behind Marco where he has the flexibility to attack,” Klopas said. “He does work defensively when he plays out wide, but it’s a little bit different. He can combine, he has more space to get the ball. I think we have some flexibility to have different options depending on how we want to approach the game from a tactical standpoint.”
Fernández will be under contract with the Fire next season, giving the team insurance on the left wing with Pappa’s contract set to expire.
“You have some depth out wide with players,” Klopas said. “So if things happen to certain players, you won’t miss a beat.”
Fernández will meet the team in San Jose ahead of the Chicago's Saturday night game against the Earthquakes (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), but Klopas said it’s unlikely he’ll play.
By the time the Fire play Toronto FC at home next Saturday, though, both of the Fire’s newest acquisitions should be ready to go.
Early in the week, Klopas said he hoped to make another move, and reports linked them to several players, including Dutch midfielder Gianluca Nijholt, who trained with the team during the week. But Klopas said Fernández’s experience in the league made this move the sensible one.
“Sometimes there’s things that pop up within the league and that makes sense,” Klopas said. “It’s an easier transition. We had some other opportunities, but then this opportunity came about and he was a player that we liked, who has done consistently well in the league and someone who has done consistently well with my team.”