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Fire stay quiet on busy day in MLS

The Fire have been one of the busier teams early in the Major League Soccer offseason. Monday, though, wasn’t one of their splashiest days.

While prominent players like D.C. United’s Eddie Johnson were left exposed for Wednesday afternoon’s expansion draft, the Fire held on to their biggest names. The league also had a four-hour trade window Monday morning, but the Fire didn’t make any deals.

That they didn’t wasn’t a shock, and their handling of the expansion draft might only raise a couple eyebrows.

Each team was required to protect 11 players, and the Fire are keeping forward Mike Magee, winger Patrick Nyarko, goalie Sean Johnson and captain Jeff Larentowicz away from Orlando City SC and New York City FC. They also protected forwards Quincy Amarikwa and Robert Earnshaw, midfielders Razvan Cocis and Matt Watson, along with defender Lovel Palmer.

Recent signings Kennedy Igboananike and Joevin Jones and 2015 Homegrown Collin Fernandez didn’t have to be protected, and 2014 Homegrown players Harry Shipp and Chris Ritter were also exempt.

Perhaps the two surprising players to be protected by the Fire were midfielder Alex and forward and Designated Player Juan Luis Anangono. Alex struggled to contribute in 2014, and Anangono fell behind Amarikwa on the depth chart before being loaned to Ecuador’s LDU Quito in July, but neither will be available for selection Wednesday.

Players who could be taken include defenders Gonzalo Segares and Bakary Soumare and midseason acquisitions Sanna Nyassi, Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Matthew Fondy. Midfielders Grant Ward and Benji Joya – whose loan deals expired – are also available.

While Monday was one of the quieter days of the offseason, the Fire likely won’t stay silent for long. The signing of midfielder Michael Stephens is expected to be announced soon.

Stephens, 25, grew up in Naperville and spent four seasons with the Los Angeles Galaxy, winning the MLS Cup twice. He spent the 2014 season with Norwegian club Stabaek.