Fire begin to shape roster for Year two of rebuilding plan

SHARE Fire begin to shape roster for Year two of rebuilding plan

Khiry Shelton of the New York City FC controls the ball in front of Brandon Vincent and Joao Meira of Chicago Fire last season at Toyota Park. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

After the Fire finished the season with the worst record in Major League Soccer, general manager Nelson Rodriguez said that change needed to take place.

In a year when the Fire never built momentum under first-year coach Veljko Paunovic, Rodriguez said that while the roster was full of good men, it wasn’t one that was built for winning on a regular basis.

On Wednesday, the Fire started to shape their roster as Rodriguez begins to plan ahead for the second year of what he said last month would be a three-year plan aimed at not only landing the Fire in the MLS playoffs, but at making the Fire sustainably successful for years to come.

The Fire announced they had exercised the 2017 options on Arturo Alvarez, Jonathan Campbell, Sean Johnson, Matt Lampson, Matt Polster, Brandon Vincent and homegrown players Joey Calistri, Drew Conner and Patrick Doody.

“We have made decisions that we believe give us maximum flexibility as we execute our plan for the next phase of our roster construction,” Rodríguez said in a statement issued by the team. “The men whose contracts we did not exercise have given their all to the club and our city. We sincerely hope that they are successful in their respective next opportunity and we are thankful for the commitment they demonstrated on behalf of Chicago Fire SC.”

The Fire announced they had declined the options on Razvan Cocis, Eric Gehrig, Nick LaBrocca, Patrick McLain, Alex Morrell, Rodrigo Ramos, Michael Stephens, Luis Solignac and Khaly Thiam. LaBrocca is eligible for free agency while Gehrig and Stephens are eligible to participate in MLS’ re-entry process.

As it stands, the Fire currently have two goalkeepers, six defenders, six midfielders and three forwards on their roster. The Fire already had eight players – David Accam, David Arshakyan, Michael de Leeuw, Collin Fernandez, John Goossens, Michael Harrington, Johan Kappelhof and Joao Meira – under guaranteed contracts.

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