With one move, the Fire may have solidified two positions and established their starting back line.
By signing defender Boris Sekulic, which was announced Saturday, the Fire likely added their first-choice right back. Sekulic’s arrival figures to push Johan Kappelhof to his favored center back alongside Francisco Calvo. And with left back Jonathan Bornstein returning, the Fire’s preferred back four looks set.
“Boris is a talented and smart defender that will immediately strengthen our backline,” Fire coach Raphael Wicky said in a news release. “We are excited to welcome him to Chicago ahead of the 2020 season.”
Though it was just one of many questions entering the offseason, the Fire had to answer how they would replace Bastian Schweinsteiger. Despite playing in the midfield for most of his decorated career, Schweinsteiger finished as a center back and anchored a back line that was unsettled until the second half of 2019.
The options were to find an in-house solution for the back line, sign a first-choice center back and keep Kappelhof on the right where he played in 2019, or acquire a right back and shift Kappelhof back to the middle. The Fire have done the latter by signing Sekulic with Discretionary Targeted Allocation Money.
Sekulic’s arrival means the Fire roster is closer to completion, but still not done. Earlier this week, Wicky was asked about building a team even though players are still coming and perhaps going.
Wicky didn’t seem too worried, emphasizing he can only control what he can control.
“Since the first day, me and my staff, we’ve tried to teach the players our philosophy and our ideas and get the best out of every individual player who is there,” Wicky told the Sun-Times. “If there is a new signing coming, we have to give those guys a little bit of time to integrate into the team. It’s my job and the job of the other coaches as well to help them understand the way we want to play here, because when they come from another club, another coach, there will be little things different and that will take time.”
Previously with Górnik Zabrze in Poland’s Ekstraklasa, the 28-year-old Sekulic will take an international slot and is under contract with the Fire through the 2022 season. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Sekulic has made 285 appearances for clubs in Serbia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Poland. Born in Belgrade, Sekulic obtained Slovakian citizenship in 2017 and has appeared twice for the Slovakia national team.