BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Juan Luis Anangonó could have headed back to Ecuador to sign with a team in his home country after his lone season with Argentinos Juniors of the Argentine Primera División ended in June.
But after talking to Ecuadorians in MLS, including Joao Plata, Oswaldo Minda and Miller Bolaños, and consulting the Ecuadorian national team coaching staff, he signed with the Chicago Fire as a Designated Player on Tuesday.
“A lot of friends and colleagues have talked very highly about MLS and about the competition,” Anangonó said through a translator. “I've talked to the [national team] coaches and the technical staff, they said it's a great opportunity ... They also think it's a great league and it's going to give me a good opportunity to play with the national team.”
Anangonó will be a DP because of the transfer fee the club paid for him and not his salary, and he'll occupy the Fire's final international slot. He has one international cap to his name after appearing in a 1-1 draw with Argentina in a World Cup qualifier last year.
WATCH: Juan Luis Anangonó highlight reel
A little less than four weeks after his last game, Anangonó jogged around the Toyota Park practice field on Tuesday, but he said it won't be long before he's game-ready.
“I'm not at 100 percent yet, but I'm at about 80 percent,” Anangonó said. “It's been about 25 days since the league in Argentina finished up, so I know I'm not quite there yet, but I've been doing some work on the side and I'm looking forward to getting back into shape soon."
When he does work his way back to full fitness, a battle for a starting spot awaits. Forwards Mike Magee and Chris Rolfe have been in good form of late, so coach Frank Klopas isn't ready to hand Anangonó a starting spot even though he has high hopes for the Fire's newest arrival.
“Everybody’s got to earn that right to be on the field,” Klopas told reporters. “He’s a good player, that’s why we brought him here. He’s got to earn that on the field for sure. He has a lot of good qualities that can impact our team and that’s why we brought him here.”