The Fire have already bought down one of the three Designated Players they signed last winter. Another is on the radar of a team in England.
A team spokesman confirmed Tuesday the Fire have received an offer from English second-division team Hull City for midfielder Shaun Maloney. Maloney, 32, joined the Fire from England’s Wigan Athletic in January as a Designated Player and has made 12 league appearances, scoring three times and adding a pair of assists.
According to the MLS Players Union, Maloney is earning $1,586,000 in guaranteed compensation and is in the first season of a three-year deal with the Fire. He was brought in after the Fire signed fellow DPs Kennedy Igboananike and David Accam, with the former being bought down last week to make room for Gilberto.
Brought in to help direct the Fire attack from the midfield, Maloney has had his moments but perhaps hasn’t had the impact that was desired. Sunday against F.C. Dallas, Maloney’s 85th minute penalty secured a surprising 2-0 win and came on a day when he was playing a more defensive role than usual.
That performance was praised Monday by coach Frank Yallop.
“It’s a team game, it’s not an individual game,” Yallop said. “If we ask Shaun to do a little bit more extra work doing this and that, he is fine with it. Does he want to play a different position and be a bit more attacking, if you like? Maybe, but in the end I think hard work and endeavor and fight won that game last night.”
If the Fire were to sell Maloney it could be tricky. The transfer window closes Thursday, making it tough to find a suitable replacement. And after dealing with injuries and other absences, the Fire are closer than ever to full-strength.
On Sunday, Maloney, Accam and Jeff Larentowicz were together and the Fire beat one of the hottest teams in the league.
“I think once you have them all on the field and you can start to get a bit of a rhythm you see the team,” Yallop said Sunday. “We’ve had a lot of the guys out for a lot of extended time, and they’re out together. The last thing I do is make excuses, its realism though. I feel comfortable with this team against anybody.”
Note: Also on Tuesday, the Fire and forward Guly do Prado mutually agreed to part ways.