Georg Heitz, Fire will be busy this offseason

A new striker and reinforcements elsewhere are on the Fire’s shopping list.

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Federico Navarro figures to be a building-block for the Fire.

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Fire sporting director Georg Heitz did the right thing by saying goodbye to nine players. While midfielders Alvaro Medran and Luka Stojanovic had their moments and defender Johan Kappelhof was the Fire’s longest-tenured player, they were parts of a bad team that needed to be rebuilt.

Now, Heitz will get another crack at constructing a winning team. And as the roster shows, he has a lot of work to do before the 2022 season begins in February.

Goalkeeper

Unless a European team willing to play him right away comes calling with an offer that’s too good to pass up, Gabriel Slonina will be the No. 1 goalie next season. Fellow Homegrown goalie Chris Brady is in the mix, but the Fire would be wise to add an experienced backup after the departures of Bobby Shuttleworth and Kenneth Kronholm.

Defense

With Kappelhof and former captain Francisco Calvo moving on, the Fire once again have needs along the back line. Calvo’s value depended on whom you asked. Some saw a skilled player unafraid to play with the ball at his feet. Others viewed him as a reckless liability. Either way, the Fire need a new starting-level center back to go with Mauricio Pineda and Carlos Teran.

Boris Sekulic and Jhon Espinoza are under contract for 2022 at right back, and Miguel Navarro is slated to return at left back. Jonathan Bornstein is not under contract, though his status will be determined by Heitz and whoever is hired as coach.

Midfield

Medran was the Fire’s best player during the last two seasons and Stojanovic contributed spectacular and clutch goals in 2021, but the Fire retained neither of them. Heitz will have to find players who are more than just replacements for those two.

Underachieving designated player Gaston Gimenez has a team option, but that’s a call that will be made by Heitz and the new coach. The Fire could and should try to do better. As for fellow underwhelming DP Ignacio Aliseda, he’s set to return, but it would be wise for the Fire to attempt to move him, whether that’s to Swiss partner club FC Lugano or out of the organization. However, the next coach might value his traits and attempt to unlock what Raphael Wicky couldn’t.

Signed in August, Federico Navarro was impressive as a ball-winning midfielder and should be a building block. The progress of Homegrown attacker Brian Gutierrez was one of the few bright spots this season. Winger Stanislav Ivanov is also under contract after a quiet and injury-riddled debut season. Fabian Herbers’ work rate and effort were highly valued by Wicky, and he can be valuable in a smaller role than the Fire had him play in 2021.

Forward

Robert Beric’s confidence and productivity fell off a cliff, and the Fire dumped him, opening up a DP slot. With Chinonso Offor producing little and young Jhon Jader Duran expected to join next season, the Fire must add a high-level DP here.

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