2. Was the roster overhaul a success?
Speaking of player announcements, let’s talk about the actual players themselves. While my colleague Adnan Basic put together a list of 5 players to watch out for, I’ll be focusing on just the new players. With all eight international slots filled, I don’t expect the Chicago Fire to be in the market for any more major signings for a while, so what we see is what they’ve got. And what they’ve got may seem unimpressive at first glance, but it might sneakily be the best haul of the offseason in MLS.
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In terms of Designated Players, the Chicago Fire had a wide-open field with three open slots after Bastian Schweinsteiger retired, Aleksander Katai was traded, and Nemanja Nikolic was let go. They were replaced by a much younger and much more interesting trio in Gaston Gimenez, Ignacio Aliseda, and Robert Beric. It also seems like they will be taking over similar roles to their predecessors.
Beric is a target striker, someone whose purpose is to be big in the box and finish chances. Aliseda is a winger who will provide an immense amount of technical ability. Finally, Gimenez is an anchorman, someone who can sit in front of the defense, providing structure and balance to the overall set-up.
Outside of the DPs, there were a few other signings I was impressed with. First was right-back Boris Sekulic. While I don’t know much about the player himself, the Fire haven’t actually had a player whose natural position was right-back since they had Rodrigo Ramos on loan back in 2016. The other player who could turn out to be a bargain is goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Judging by the club’s recent history in creating a revolving door for goalkeepers, I expect Shuttleworth to have a handle on the starting job at some point this season.