Veljko Paunovic - Nelson Rodriguez - Chicago Fire - MLS Combine
Andy Mead

Chicago Fire GM Rodriguez: "We may sign a Designated Player this summer"

Just because the Chicago Fire have all three of their Designated Player slots filled doesn't mean general manager Nelson Rodriguez isn't dreaming big this summer. 

With Aleksandar Katai, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Nemanja Nikolic all listed as DPs, and unable to be bought down with Targeted Allocation Money, the club have their max. It may not be that way for much longer and the Fire are scouting DPs. 

"All three of our DPs are out of contract at the end of this year," Rodriguez explained at a Roundtable Discussion at SeatGeek Stadium’s Heineken Second Star Club on Wednesday. "We have not taken a decision on any of them, and won't until the season is over. And I don't know what decisions they will make. ... We will be scouting for DPs-- we have some players now that we're tracking that would require DP status. I have permission from ownership that if the right player and right circumstance comes along, we may sign a DP in the summer." 

The club brought in Nico Gaitan in March on a TAM-level contract, unable to increase their offer further. If a DP is signed this summer, he can't be added to the roster without another leaving. Or, as Rodriguez explained, the club could loan him out until January. 

With the Fire already looking forward to the Secondary Transfer Window, the Primary Transfer Window just closed on Tuesday night. In the days prior, Chicago made a few moves. 

First, the Fire acquired Costa Rican international center back Francisco Calvo from Minnesota United, adding another central defender to the roster. The 2018 MLS All-Star can also play left back if need be. 

"Francisco Calvo is a big help," Rodriguez said. "We wanted to increase our competitive level within the backline, I think the intent has always been to play Bastian higher up the field. ... We could probably use more cover and competition at right back, but we feel good at center back."

Chicago also added another goalkeeper, Kenneth Kronholm, their fourth on the senior roster. That is a bit of a misnomer, Rodriguez says, considering Homegrown GK Gabriel Slonina is 14 years old. 

"We have no illusions that Gaga will be ready to play anytime soon," Rodriguez said. "That contract was best for him and his family, in our best interest as a club to secure his talents. There were already several European-based teams looking to sign him."

Kronholm, 33, has extensive experience in Germany, with 173 appearances between the second and third tiers of German soccer. He has made a total 326 professional appearances with 91 clean sheets across all competitions. 

"Kenneth is a goalkeeper we had scouted and pursued for quite a while," Rodriguez said. "He's a player who desperately wanted to come and play for us. There are elements to his game that fits our model better than some of the talents our other goalkeepers have. Pauno and I have always thought about having goalkeepers with different skillsets that can fit a particular gameplan. When he's healthy, he'll give our coaching staff that ability to consider those options. I don't think we could afford to miss this opportunity." 


September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Join MLS to #KickChildhoodCancer by tuning into eMLS 24 Hours of FIFA 20 on September 24 at 6:00 PM ET and donate to Children’s Oncology Group Foundation. Our Goal is a Cure ... Make it your goal too!