At 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, the Chicago Fire's newly acquired Colombian forward, Cristian Nazarit, is five inches taller and 20 pounds larger than the club's current leading scorer, Diego Cháves.
The Fire figure that size will help the 20-year-old to be the true target striker in their crop of attackers.
“We felt he was a little bit different with his qualities and physical characteristics,” Fire technical director Frank Klopas told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday. “If you look at Cháves or [Gastón] Puerari, they’re players that sometimes drop a little bit deep to receive the ball. But [Nazarit] gives us more of a presence higher up and more of a good point of reference where midfielders and defenders can play to him.
“He’s physically strong, he has the ability to play with his back to goal and he’s very good at holding the ball between two central defenders. He also has the pace to get behind and stretch the defense, he’s very good in the box, good in the air and has a tremendous shot from outside.”
The Fire first heard of Nazarit through an agent’s recommendation. The club then reviewed the player on tape and saw enough to send director of player personnel Mike Jeffries – who was already in Colombia on a scouting trip – to watch Nazarit in person in a game for his former club, Santa Fe.
“Mike had an opportunity to see him in a live match and came back with very positive reviews,” Klopas said. “Then we looked at more games, all the staff together along with the coaching staff, and we felt that he was a player that we would put on our list as someone that we were very interested in.”
Klopas said that the Fire, who made room for Nazarit on their roster by placing injured midfielder Marko Maric on the disabled list, won’t be limited in the summer transfer window due to Wednesday’s move.
The technical director addressed the fact that the club made a move for a forward when Chicago has seemingly bigger needs at center midfield and defense.
“I don’t think you can have enough guys that can score goals,” Klopas said. “Like I said, his characteristics are a little bit different than Gaston and Diego, which I think gives us something different and adds a different dimension to the team. … I think he gives us flexibility to have a few different options.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.