Fire try to bolster center of defense

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For the Sun-Times

The Fire begin training in less than a week, and the roster is anything but settled, but general manager Nelson Rodriguez doesn’t seem overly concerned.

Rodriguez’s priorities are clear. After a busy day in the MLS SuperDraft last week, center back remains the top priority.

The players who will occupy the center-back spots are still a work in progress.

“There’s more than one we’re chasing,” Rodriguez said in a conference call Tuesday.

The Fire selected Creighton defender Vincent Keller and Butler midfielder Vincent Mitchell with the 57th and 62nd picks of the SuperDraft.

The Fire appar-ently have come to an agreement with Portuguese defender Joao Meira, 28.

Rodriguez said the Fire remain in discussions with several European center backs, including Polish international Marcin Kaminski, who would join Jonathan Campbell, who was taken with the 12th pick out of North Carolina to help bolster the defense, and Eric Gehrig, who is still recuperating from a stress fracture in his foot suffered last season.

The closing of the European transfer window later this month could stretch negotiations with potential center backs into early February.

But that holding pattern is all part of Rodriguez’s plan to make sure the Fire have the right pieces in place — even if they’re not locked in by the start of training Monday.

The Fire open the regular season at Toyota Park against New York City FC on March  6.

“There’s a balance between patience and pressure,” Rodriguez said. “We don’t want to impose an artificial and unnecessary deadline.

‘‘That said, we can’t afford to allow all of our options to wither away while we wait for someone to make a decision. We juggle that balance on a daily basis.”

Early bird gets the ticket

Tickets are available for this summer’s Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event, which will take place June 10-12.

Grandstand weekend passes go for $249, and Race Village weekend passes go for $49 (adults) and $25 (kids). To buy tickets, visit

Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.

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