Brazilian midfielder Thiago da Rosa Correia is the newest member of the Chicago Fire, having signed a contract with Major League Soccer on Monday. Thiago Gaucho, as he is known on the field, was signed on loan from Brazilian side Ginásio Pinhalense de Esportes Atléticos.
An attack-minded player who is unafraid to take on his opposing defender, his quickness and fast transitional play will be beneficial to head coach Dave Sarachan's side, and his high work rate and creativity make him an early contender to fill the role vacated by the departure of Andy Williams to Real Salt Lake in the 2004 MLS Expansion Draft.
"It's truly a privilege to sign with the Chicago Fire. I was fortunate to spend last summer training with the squad and I had the pleasure of spending a great deal of time with my new teammates. They are all great players and they are fantastic off the field as well," Thiago said.
"I consider myself a fast, technical player and I hope I have the opportunity to contribute all of my skills to help the team win a championship. I'm not sure that there are a lot of Brazilians living in Chicago, but it's a great town. I'm just honored to be a part of this team and I'm very much looking forward to starting our season." The Fire used one of their six Discovery Player options to acquire the rights to the 22-year-old playmaker. He will occupy one of the Fire's Youth International slots, the other being held by Haitian midfielder Alexandre Boucicaut. Thiago Gaucho will also count towards the Fire's 18-man senior roster.
"Thiago impressed us last year when he came over on trial and we felt, at that time, he would be a good addition to our team coming into 2005 as a young, attacking midfield player," said Sarachan. "He possesses great technical ability, reads the game well and moves well. We feel he offers something a little bit different as a player going forward and believe he'll be a great addition to our roster."
Sporting Clube Internacional in Porto Alegre, Brazil, is where Thiago got his start, helping his hometown team to several regional, country and continental titles. He then spent the early part of the 2004 season at Sao Paulo side Ginásio Pinhalense, the former club of current MetroStars midfielder Gilberto Flores. Thiago then trained with the Fire from July through the end of the 2004 MLS campaign.
"Thiago offers midfield depth," said Fire president and general manager Peter Wilt. "He's primarily an attacking player with creative skills, but we were really impressed last fall in his trial by his hard work defensively also. He is young and will have the chance to develop and contribute to the Fire."
Jonathan Nierman is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.