Winger Przemyslaw Frankowski is officially gone. So what now for the Fire?
As expected, the team on Thursday transferred Frankowski, 26, to RC Lens in France’s Ligue 1. He had been one of the Fire’s best performers this season, compiling two goals and three assists while causing problems for opponents with his speed.
“This move demonstrates that young players can develop within our environment and contribute in a meaningful way before transitioning to a top-five league in the world,” Fire sporting director Georg Heitz said in a news release.
That’s true, and the profit from the transfer represents a good piece of business, but the Fire had a steep uphill climb to contend for an Eastern Conference playoff berth even before Frankowski left.
After reaching the halfway point of the season with a 0-0 tie against New York City FC on Wednesday, the Fire are 10 points out of the final playoff spot. And to compound their issues, they have just six home games left compared to 11 on the road and are still looking for their first win in a true away game since the 2019 finale.
“We have higher expectations, so with that, we aren’t happy,” coach Raphael Wicky said Wednesday. “I still think this team is developing. I still think there is a curve — we see a curve that is going upwards, that the team is growing together.”
With the postseason seemingly out of reach, perhaps growth and development should be goals in the second half. Frankowski’s departure might open more playing time for younger players, and the Fire can see what they have in 22-year-old winger Stanislav Ivanov, who missed the first four months with a knee injury before making his first start Wednesday.
The MLS transfer deadline was Thursday, and although the Fire didn’t disclose any acquisitions, it’s possible they did occur and will be announced later. However, it’s unlikely any move would change the trajectory of the season, even if the Fire aren’t saying they’re throwing in the towel.
“We’re still focused on this year,” defender Mauricio Pineda said Wednesday, “only focused on Sunday’s game that’s coming up [against the New York Red Bulls] and try to approach that in the best possible way and prepare for that game and try to get three points at home.”