BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire midfielder Rafael Robayo’s debut may have to wait another week.
The Colombian’s availability for Chicago’s season opener on Saturday in Montreal (2 pm ET; TSN, RDS in Canada, MLS Live in USA) is in doubt because he’s yet to receive his International Transfer Certificate.
“We’re still waiting for his clearance, hopefully that comes in before the game,” head coach Frank Klopas said of Robayo, who signed with the Fire in January.
Chicago don’t have a lot of mystery with their roster – every player that started at the end of last season is back with the team this year.
But Robayo’s presence has brought some intrigue. The former Millonarios midfielder is a skilled box-to-box player that brings a different skill set than any player on the Fire’s roster.
“He has great technique and great movement,” Fire defender Gonzalo Segares said. “[He’ll help with] possession of the ball and creativity and the space he gets. He’ll help a lot as a defender, to find him open. Even when he has a mark, he has good enough touch to get out of the pressure.”
Robayo still has a transition to make from Colombian soccer to MLS. But the 6-foot midfielder is confident he can make the adjustment.
“It’s definitely more difficult because of the size and playing style of the American player, but I’m confident that I’ll be able to adapt to that,” Robayo told MLSsoccer.com through a translator.
When Robayo is allowed to play, Klopas will have a difficult decision to make with his starting lineup.
Of course, it’s a happy one as well – the ability to rotate players based upon form and fitness has not been Chicago’s calling card the past several years.
“He gives us depth,” Klopas said. “We just wanted to make sure there was depth on the team. It’s a situation where you create competition. It’s a long season.”