The Chicago Fire acquired former LA Galaxy midfielder Juninho via the Allocation Process on Friday, signing the Brazilian on a one-year loan from Liga MX side Club Tijuana. The deal includes an option to purchase the player outright and extend his MLS contract.
In order to acquire the center mid, the Fire sent general allocation money, the club’s natural second-round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft and the No. 3 spot in the Allocation Ranking Order to Minnesota United FC in exchange for the No. 2 allocation spot. Atlanta United, who hold the No. 1 spot in the allocation order, passed on the player.
“Juninho is a champion, a complete player and a beautiful person,” said Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez in a club release. “He excels in all facets of the game and fully understands the commitment it takes to lift trophies. We’re thrilled that Juninho will wear red in his return to MLS."
Juninho, 27, won three MLS Cups and two MLS Supporters’ Shields during an impressive six-year stint with the Galaxy. He originally joined LA on loan from Brazil’s Sao Paulo FC in 2010, and signed a permanent deal ahead of the 2013 season.
In LA, Juninho scored 18 goals and 23 assists in 187 league appearances (180 starts), plus one goal and four assists in the postseason and four goals and one assist in CONCACAF Champions League action, as he crafted one of the league's most dominant midfield partnerships with Marcelo Sarvas.
Juninho's exploits earned him a 2015 MLS All-Star nod, but he was transferred to Club Tijuana that December as the Galaxy rejiggered their roster. He notched two goals and two assists in 24 appearances for Xolos in his one year away from MLS.
“Going into this off-season, we set our intentions on identifying game-changing players with championship experience along the spine of our line-up,” said Rodriguez. “Including the signing of Nemanja Nikolic, we’ve acquired two players whom attracted significant interest from other clubs worldwide.”