clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

CJ Sapong announces departure from Fire, who exercise 2021 options on four players

Over two seasons, Sapong scored 15 times in 43 league appearances and was an important voice off the field.

CJ Sapong announced his departure from the Fire on Thursday.
CJ Sapong announced his departure from the Fire on Thursday.
Courtesy of the Fire

CJ Sapong was an important player and prominent voice on the Fire.

In 2021, he won’t be around.

The Fire on Thursday exercised 2021 options on four players, and Sapong announced he is not returning next year.

The options were picked up on midfielder Djordje Mihailovic, forward Elliot Collier and defenders Wyatt Omsberg and Nicholas Slonina. Midfielder Jeremiah Gutjahr and goalie Connor Sparrow had their options declined, midfielder Micheal Azira is out of contract, and the team is in discussions with midfielder Brandt Bronico over his future.

As of Thursday, the Fire have 27 players under contract for 2021.

A pending free agent, the 31-year-old Sapong posted a farewell to the Fire and their fans on Instagram. To start his message, Sapong wrote “Our illustrious journey comes to a close! While it hasn’t ended the way I envisioned, this is the nature of the business!”

“I look back on our time together and am enamored by the passion of the supporters and the unyielding work of front office, technical and medical staff as well as my fellow teammates,” Sapong wrote.

Over two seasons, Sapong scored 15 times in 43 league appearances following his trade from Philadelphia in Feb. 2019. He only appeared in 11 games this season and missed five matches due to the birth of his daughter, and then the final five contests to be with her in California after she was released after spending two months in the NICU.

Sapong’s exit isn’t unexpected, and when the Fire tweeted their roster decisions Thursday they posted a “sincere thank you to CJ, Connor, Jeremiah and Micheal. Wishing you all the best.” Sapong confirmed his departure a few hours later.

While Sapong was influential on the field, he left a mark away from the game as well. An activist who founded Sacred Seeds in 2017, Sapong is a part of the Black Players for Change coalition of MLS players. He also spoke powerfully about the nation’s racial issues following the police killing of George Floyd, using both social and traditional media to get his message across.

“I’m especially thankful for the compassion and support I’ve felt from the members of the surrounding community from day one,” Sapong posted. “I invested a piece of my soul into Chicago with goals and visions of togetherness and empowerment. I’ve already felt the luminous nature of those dividends and am so excited to see how those seeds continue to sprout and grow in my departure!

“And so, I leave you Windy City, with the best of wishes. Just keep blowing me kisses.”

NOTES: Sporting director Georg Heitz is expected to meet the media via Zoom on Friday.

- Homegrown goalie Chris Brady was named the USL League One Young Player of the Year for his work with Forward Madison FC, where he spent the season on loan. Brady, 16, posted three shutouts in eight starts.