Fire make moves to build for future, face challenging present
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Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez has consistently pointed to the process he has in place to build the franchise into a winner.
Rodriguez’s emphasis on the future continued on Wednesday made the Fire made three moves. The Fire traded their top spot in the MLS Allocation Ranking Order to the Philadelphia Union for a bounty that directly ties to Rodriguez’s big-picture blueprint.
The Union grabbed midfielder Alejandro Bedoy, a member of the U.S. men’s national team who had been playing in Europe. In exchange, the Fire landed a reported $175,000 in general and targeted allocation money as well as the Union’s first-round draft pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, the discovery priority rights to a player and the Union’s No. 2 slot in the league’s ranking order.
Because the Union used their spot to claim Bedoy, the Fire shifted back into the top spot for future transactions.
“We’ve often spoken of building a team that will be competitive over time,” Rodriguez said in a team-issued statement Wednesday. “This move is directly tied to other deals (Wednesday) and transactions to be completed in the coming months that will allow us to execute our plan and realize our on-field goals.”
The Fire also announced they have signed Armenian forward David Arshakyan from Lithuanian A Lyga’s FK Trakai to a two-year deal with club options for a third and fourth year. Arshakyan will join the Fire once he receives his visa.
After joining FK Trakai, Arshakyan, 21, scored 25 goals in 34 league appearances and had six multi-goal games, including three hat tricks. He has nine goals in 18 games this season.
“He has a very good soccer IQ, imagination and obvious size,” Rodriguez said of the 6-foot-4 striker.
The Fire capped a busy Wednesday by acquiring forward Louis Solignac from the Colorado Rapids in exchange for general allocation money. The 25-year-old Argentine has tallied three goals and two assists in 18 appearances, 12 of which were starts. Solignac hasn’t started since mid-June and hasn’t scored since April.
While Wednesday’s move was made to improve the Fire down the road, coach Veljko Paunovic still has his own challenges to deal with in the present. The Fire are trying to bounce back from a disappointing 2-2 draw against the New York Red Bulls in which they allowed the game-tying goal in the 90th minute.
The missed opportunity to pick up some much-needed points comes ahead of a two-game road swing during which the Fire will face Real Salt Lake on Saturday before facing the New England Revolution in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open semifinals on Tuesday.
Salt Lake has a 5-0-5 home record this season while the Revolution have already tallied a pair of wins against the Fire. In both cases, the Fire will look to snap their MLS-record 35-game road losing streak.
Paunovic said on Tuesday that with two serious tests looming ahead, his team can’t suffer a hangover from last weekend’s disappointing finish.
“We believe that just by playing like we are doing right now, keeping our identity and that mentality of playing 90 minutes – even when you concede goals – is something that we have to improve. We make our games tough for our opponents.
“I believe at some point, something is going to break down. The streak is going to change and we will win a game. We will surprise in the coming months. I really expect that we will surprise everyone with good performance.”
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