New Chicago Fire head coach and director of soccer Frank Yallop made his first big decisions on Monday by cutting ties with DP midfielder Arevalo Rios and backup goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi.
But there's plenty of work left to be done in a short amount of time.
Options must be picked up or declined, contracts for young stars must be negotiated, and a few new players must be signed. Perhaps most importantly, he needs a staff to help him make those decisions.
“I thought it would be a little easier, to be honest [to fill out my coaching and front office staff],” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Monday, citing “legal stuff” as a hangup. “I've had some good candidates for all of the positions we have at the club, so I was thinking the next couple of weeks we'll have some nice announcements.”
After declining an option on Rios and waiving Tornaghi, the next slew of options will come over the next few weeks before the Re-Entry Draft in early December.
Yallop will bring back Homegrown players Victor Pineda and Kellen Gulley, who each are on an option year, but he's decided to decline Logan Pause's option. Even so, he said the 32-year-old captain has “something to offer still,” and hopes to bring him back next season.
“I had a really good conversation with Logan, who's a really fine individual, and I want to keep him in the club. I've just got to figure out the capacity,” said Yallop. “He's going to go into the Re-Entry Draft but we're hoping he gets through that, and we can figure out what lies ahead for Logan.
“But he's been a fantastic servant to the club, and I don't take that lightly and I'm not just saying that. I think he's a good person, I've always liked him from afar coaching against him,” added the new Fire boss. “I'd like to think that he'll still be around for next season.”
Then, there's the matter of finding a backup goalkeeper after parting ways with Tornaghi, who Yallop said had a salary that was “pretty high for a backup.”
Starter Sean Johnson has been the fourth goalkeeper in the US national team player pool, so he still seems to be on the outside looking in for the World Cup. But Yallop knows that can change, and he'll need a viable backup in case Johnson is gone in June.
“What we need to make sure is that if Sean is gone [for the World Cup] that we have adequate backup at that position,” Yallop said. “Whether he's a veteran or not, I have to make sure he's going to be able to play for our first team. We're going to have conversations with goalkeepers who are good and have played in our league. Within the next little while, we should be filling that spot and making sure it's taken care of.”
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Johnson has one year left on his contract, and the Fire know he'll be a hot commodity if and when he hits the market. Yallop said the club is “in really preliminary talks with Sean's agent, and something will come up soon where we can make a clear decision on his future.”
But first things first, Yallop needs to hire people who will help him make these important decisions before he heads off to the UK on a scouting trip in mid-December.
“I'm doing my homework, it's not a rush job. I've spoken to a lot of people and knowing a lot of these guys anyway, and that's always a good thing,” he said. “Within a couple of weeks, hopefully we'll have our staff in anyway, and you'll know sooner or later who they'll be.”