BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire backline is on thin ice.
With Arne Friedrich out for an undetermined amount of time, the Fire don't have a natural center back on their bench behind 24-year-old starters Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry. So coach Frank Klopas and president Javier Leon said on Wednesday that the Fire are looking to add players at that position.
“We are looking. I think you need to find the kind of guy that can come in and, if something happens, he can play,” Klopas said. “Not kind of a low-end guy just to fill a roster spot. I think it's got to be a guy that we feel, if something happens, or if Arne takes longer, this guy is a guy that can step in and help us. We're looking, but it's not easy because it's a difficult position for other teams to let go of.”
The Fire cut loose several defenders during preseason, but Klopas described them as “low-end guys” who wouldn't be able to step in and play.
Klopas mentioned that Berry picked up a knock to his shoulder, which he injured last season, in Sunday's 2-1 loss at the Houston Dynamo. While the injury shouldn't keep last year's Rookie of the Year out, it speaks to the importance of having a backup at the position, with Mike Videira and Hunter Jumper left as the only viable bench options who are currently healthy.
Philadelphia Union center back Bakary Soumare has expressed a desire to be traded, and he mentioned Chicago as a possibility. But salary cap implications would make a move for the former Fire defender difficult.
“We're looking at it. The key thing is that we're still very hopeful that Arne is going to come back,” Leon said. “We're engaged with a number of teams ... The main thing is that we don't want to do something just for the sake of doing it.”