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Fire hope Francisco Calvo solidifies back line

Then-Minnesota United defender Francisco Calvo walks off the field after being ejected in Toronto. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP)

Defender Francisco Calvo’s tenure with his former team didn’t end well. The Fire hope those struggles won’t continue in Chicago.

On Friday, the Fire announced they have acquired Calvo from Minnesota United for $400,000 in MLS allocation money. Calvo, 26, served as Minnesota’s captain since the birth of the club and has played both at center back and left back, the latter a position the Fire have struggled to solidify this year.

Calvo has made 46 appearances for the Costa Rica national team (including two during the 2018 World Cup) but has a green card and won’t take an international roster spot. Last year, he was also Minnesota’s first MLS all-star.

For the Fire, getting help on the back line was viewed as a key task before the transfer window closes May 7. If he benefits from a change in scenery, Calvo would give the Fire another dependable presence on the back line and a reputable starting XI with depth and options on the bench.

“Acquiring Francisco’s talents and character is a big plus for our club,” Fire president and general manager Nelson Rodrίguez said in a news release. “He is a versatile defender with international experience in the prime of his career. He is familiar with MLS and has demonstrated a competitive mentality that should fit well with our group.”

That might be true, but the last weeks of Calvo’s time in the Twin Cities were not optimal.

Calvo, who made 60 appearances (all starts) for Minnesota since joining before the 2017 season, had been struggling at left back and picked up two yellow cards during a 4-3 loss to Toronto FC on April 19. Without Calvo in the next game, Minnesota held the LA Galaxy to a 0-0 draw.

Eligible to return to the lineup last Sunday against D.C. United, Calvo wasn’t even selected for the gameday 18. And with Calvo watching, Minnesota won 1-0 and picked up its second straight shutout without its captain.

“I just didn’t want any negativity about the group,” Minnesota coach Adrian Heath told reporters about his decision to drop Calvo. “He’s obviously disappointed, and I thought it would be better if we left him out altogether.”

Calvo is the latest big acquisition for the Fire, following the March signing of Nicolas Gaitan.

Calvo is under contract through 2020, with team options for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. The Fire are sending $100,000 in general allocation money and $50,000 in targeted allocation money this season. Next year, they are sending $100,000 in GAM and $150,000 in TAM.

If Calvo hits certain performance incentives, Minnesota could get an extra $125,000 in TAM. If the Fire eventually sell Calvo outside of MLS, Minnesota will get a portion of the transfer fee.