The Chicago Fire’s rumored courtship with Pável Pardo finally came to fruition on Tuesday, as the club announced it has signed the former Mexican international to a contract for the remainder of the 2011 season.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Fire officials confirmed that Pardo has not been signed as a Designated Player.
Pardo, who turned 35 years old on Tuesday, appeared in both the 1998 and 2006 World Cups for El Tri, and logged a staggering 148 caps with the team before making his final international appearance in 2009. He also appeared with the team in the 2007 Gold Cup, when Mexico fell to the United States in the final at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Best known at the club level for a stellar turn with Club América from 1999 to 2006, Pardo appeared in at least 29 games every season of the seven-year run, and helped lead las Águilas to the 2006 CONCACAF Champions' Cup. He began his professional career with Atlas in 1993.
He also lobbied a solid performance with Mexico in the 2006 World Cup in Germany into a contract with Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart, where he made 71 appearances from 2006-09 and won a league crown in his first season with the team.
He returned to Mexico in 2009 and once again suited up for Club América until his contract with the club ended earlier this month.
“Pável is a very talented player who can help our team,” Fire technical director and interim head coach Frank Klopas said in a statement. “Pável’s international credentials and track record as a professional were defining factors in us bringing Pavel to the Fire. He will provide additional depth in the midfield as we push for a playoff spot in the second half of the MLS season.”
Used primarily as a defensive midfielder, Pardo joins a Fire team that struggled mightily before former head coach Carlos de los Cobos was let go in May and has fared only slightly better in the standings under Klopas. They’re currently winless in their last six league games, sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and are in danger of missing the playoffs for two straight seasons for the first time in franchise history.
Captain Logan Pause has served as the team’s starting holding midfielder for the bulk of his nine-year career with the team, and has started 14 games in that role this season. The club has also mixed and matched with Daniel Paladini and Baggio Husidic in the central midfield this season, and newly signed Argentine attacking midfielder Sebastián Grazzini made his debut off the bench during the club's 3-1 loss to Manchester United in the Herbalife World Football Challenge this past Saturday.
The Fire have been down this road before with prominent Mexican internationals, for better and for worse. The 2007 signing of Designated Player Cuauhtémoc Blanco was a rousing success in the standings and in Chicago’s prominent Mexican-American community, but last year’s risk on Nery Castillo was largely a flop.
Castillo logged just eight appearances with Chicago in 2010 before he was unceremoniously loaned to Greek side Aris in January, and he signed a two-year deal with his new club earlier this month.
Like Pardo, both Blanco and Castillo appeared with the Mexican national team in the 2007 Gold Cup final at Soldier Field.
To make room for Pardo's signing, the Fire released Bratislav Ristic. The Serbian midfielder appeared in 17 games and started in 13 for Chicago after joining the club in 2010.