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Rodriguez: Chicago Fire are "open for business" to improve their roster

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — The Chicago Fire are “open for business” in the transfer market.

That was how general manager Nelson Rodriguez described the club in his opening remarks Wednesday at his second media round table event of the season.

Positive though that may sound, the Fire didn’t want to be in this position. Inconsistency and an increasingly uphill climb to reach the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs have forced Chicago into the marketplace, as Rodriguez conceded that his team’s squad as constructed is not sufficient.

“We have shown a more than reasonable amount of patience for the group to come together and jell,” Rodriguez said. “That hasn’t happened.”

Change is afoot, change that began on Wednesday morning when the Fire confirmed the trade of defensive midfielder Mo Adams to Atlanta United for $100,000 in 2020 General Allocation Money. According to Rodriguez, the club feared they would lose Adams in 2020 MLS expansion team Nashville SC’s upcoming expansion draft and made the move to maximize financial return on a player they didn’t view as key to their future.

On the other hand, Adams’ departure further depletes the depth of a team that has frequently asked players to play out of position this season.

The Fire have yet to add any players in the secondary transfer window, but Rodriguez said he is exploring all avenues.

On Wednesday, he told reporters the club had a $5 million offer for a young South American player eclipsed by a European club and that the club is also monitoring several other Designated Player candidates but no offers have been made.

With three DPs already on the roster (Aleksandar Katai, Nemanja Nikolic, and Bastian Schweinsteiger), the Fire would have to open up a slot whether by buying a player down or moving him on. Still, Rodriguez insists they are focused on 2019 and erasing the six points and three places that separate them from a playoff spot.

The Fire may not view themselves as sellers, but it seems other clubs do, much to Rodriguez’s chagrin.

“We’re not going to give guys away,” Rodriguez said, citing being offered $50,000 in allocation money and a first-round SuperDraft pick by an unnamed team for Katai, an offer he said left him in between “bemused and insulted.”

The most glaring need on the roster at the moment is at the fullback positions, which Rodriguez singled out as spots they were looking to “improve competition” in, with the two spots having been a carousel for ill-fitting options. At fullback or otherwise, he’s casting as wide a net as possible in hopes of catching a player who can be the spark for a sputtering squad.

“We’re fielding more inbound calls,” he said, not specifying what other teams had proposed. “We have proactively reached out to every team. We’re engaged in two serious discussions of trades...but we’ll see where it takes us.”


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