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13 December 5:34 pm

Major League Soccer today released the final list of players eligible for Stage Two of the MLS Re-Entry process to take place via teleconference Friday afternoon at 2pm CT.

Midfielder Corben Bone, defender Dan Gargan and goalkeeper Jay Nolly remained on the list from the Fire after passing through the Stage One draft last Friday. Of course the Fire were the only team to select a player in that draft, picking Brazilian forward Maicon Santos. 

The Stage Two draft typically has more activity as teams who select players on Friday can negotiate their salaries. In Stage Two, teams cannot select their own players until after all 18 other teams have passed on them.

Players that pass through Friday's draft without getting picked are free to sign with any MLS team on a first-come, first-served basis. If you're at all still confused, I explained the entire Re-Entry Process in this blog last Friday

The list of the 49 eligible players for Re-Entry is below. Salary numbers are from the most recent report by the MLS Players Union.

This is probably a weaker Re-Entry Field than we've seen in the two previous versions. Given the three players the Fire have exposed to the draft and considering the moves made so far this offseason (re-signing Arne Friedrich and Gonzalo Segares; acquiring Maicon Santos), who, if anyone would you want to see the Fire take in Stage Two tomorrow? 

Tell us in the comments below...

Team Player Position 2012 Base Salary
CHI Jay Nolly GK $78,250
CHI Corben Bone M $100,000
CHI Dan Gargan  D $88,000
CHV Juan Pablo Angel F $350,000
CHV Peter Vagenas M $70,000
CHV Danny Califf D $275,000
CHV Alejandro Moreno F $185,000
CLB Will Hesmer GK $170,000
CLB Julius James D $100,000
COL Tyrone Marshall D $90,000
COL Scott Palguta D $63,670
COL Conor Casey F $400,000
COL Hunter Freeman D $105,000
COL Jamie Smith M $148,992
COL Ian Joyce GK $44,004
COL Joseph Nane M $44,100
COL Tyson Wahl D $65,000
DC Mike Chabala D $75,000
DAL  Bruno Guarda M $60,000
DAL Kevin Hartman GK $165,000
DAL Julian De Guzman M $1,863,996
DAL Scott Sealy F $50,004
HOU Colin Clark M $105,427
KC Olukorede Aiyebusi D $44,100
KC Luke Sassano M/D $81,000
LA Chad Barrett F $220,000
LA Andrew Boyens D $62,500
LA Bryan Jordan F $55,000
LA Pat Noonan F $70,000
MTL Shavar Thomas D $80,000
NE Tim Murray GK $44,100
NE Blair Gavin M $60,000
NY Bill Gaudette GK $60,000
NY Stephen Keel D $65,000
PHI Chase Harrison GK $44,000
POR Lovel Palmer M $85,000
RSL Paulo Araujo, Jr. F $65,000
SEA Andrew Weber GK $51,996
SEA Mike Seamon M $33,750
SJ Jean Alexandre M $44,100
SJ Tim Ward D $65,000
SJ Ramiro Corrales M $173,250
SJ Joseph Gjertsen M $85,000
SJ Khari Stephenson M $190,000
TOR Eric Avila M $125,000
TOR Adrian Cann D $126,000
TOR Ty Harden D $90,000
VAN John Thorrington  M $170,000

 

07 December 11:04 am

Despite going into its third-year of existence, the MLS Re-Entry process still leaves plenty of folks scratching their heads every December. I'll try to explain the ins and outs ahead of today's Stage One Draft...

What is it? 

The Re-Entry Process is confusing because its also unique in terms of North American sport. The idea came as a compromise to help settle the latest Collect Bargaining Agreement in early 2010. 

In essence, the Re-Entry Process is Major League Soccer's form of free agency, allowing players that meet certain requirements the opportunity to test the waters of moving to another team. Prior to the signing of the current CBA, teams still held league rights to players that were out of contract, meaning that in order for a player to move, a team would need to waive his rights or a trade would have to occur.

Under the new terms, players that have played a minimum of three years in MLS and are at least 23 years of age are eligible for the annual Re-Entry process should their current team decline their option or if they're out of contract. Full eligibility requirements for players can be found in Section II.G here.

There are two stages to the Re-Entry Process, each with different caveats...

Explaining Stage One

Thursday night MLS released the final list of players eligible for Stage One of the 2012 Re-Entry Process set for Friday at 2 p.m. CT. Prior to the release, players had up until 4 p.m. CT Thursday to opt out of the draft.

This was the case for Gonzalo Segares, who re-signed with the club on Thursday. With that transaction, two Fire players, midfielder Corben Bone and goalkeeper Jay Nolly, remained on the list of 52 players eligible for selection.

UPDATE: As of 1:30 p.m. CT, Fire defender Dan Gargan was added to the Stage One Re-Entry list by the league.

Teams that pick players at Stage One on Friday must exercise the option (pick up the player's salary), or in the case of out of contract players, extend a Bona Fide Offer to, the player. If the player rejects the offer, the drafting club will hold the right of first refusal for that player in MLS (the player's league rights). Teams may not select their own players in Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft.

Held via conference call, generally Stage One of the Re-Entry Process is a quick affair, with only five players having been selected in the previous two stages combined. This is generally because of the first caveat above, by which a team must pick up the salary of a player's whose option hae been declined (the majority of players available fall under this category). 

Players that are not selected in Stage One are then able to come back to the table with their club and negotiate up until a second blackout period begins on Thursday, December 13 at 4 p.m. CT. 

After passing through the first stage of Re-Entry in 2010, Jovan Kirovski re-negotiated his contract to stay with the LA Galaxy another season, prior to Stage Two.

Expaining Stage Two

This is where the magic happens as Stage Two of the Re-Entry Process is one of the biggest days of player movement within the league every year. 

In 2010, 11 players were chosen in Stage Two while 10 were take in 2011. 

Set for next Friday, December 14 at 2 p.m. CT, players that are selected in Stage Two can negotiate a new salary with the team that has chosen them. As long as that salary is deemed as a genuine offer by MLS, the team retains the player's league rights.

A genuine offer must be placed within seven days of selection, though a signing doesn't necessarily need to happen in that time as negotiations can continue.

A team is eliminated from Stage Two once they pass on their turn. A team can only select it's own player once all other clubs have passed on that player. 

Players that pass through both stages of the Re-Entry process are deemed free agents and available on a first-come, first-served basis to all MLS teams.

Fire History in the Re-Entry Process

The Fire have selected two players through the Re-Entry Process and both had different cases.

In 2010, the team selected recently retired defender Cory Gibbs (right) from New England and immediately announced his signing. This was able to happen as the team and player had already agreed to terms in the case that Gibbs was selected to come to Chicago.

In 2011, the Fire picked forward Kheli Dube, also from New England but the Zimbabwean forward didn't sign a contract with the club until late January as the two parties negotiated terms of the deal.

The team has also had two players selected from it in the Re-Entry Process.

In 2011, the Fire saw midfielder Baggio Husidic and goalkeeper Jon Conway chosen in Stage Two by the Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy respectively. Neither player signed with those clubs as Husidic elected to sign for Swedish side Hammarby while Conway announced his retirement. 

 

06 December 12:32 pm

In this edition of Burning Questions we sat down with Italian goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi. The former Inter Milan youth product earned a spot on the Fire roster after impressing the technical staff during preseason and started the first three games of the 2012, posting a shutout while helping the team to a 1-1-1 record. Prior to heading back  for offseason in Milan, Paolo took the time to answer our Burning Questions about the worst American fashion trend, the best Italian restaurants in Chicago and his favorite MLS away city.
 

Always on the Inside: Favorite thing to do in the summer here in Chicago?
 
Paolo Tornaghi: It’s nice in the summer to go to the lake and the beach. I like to ride my bike on the bike path from Navy Pier to North Beach.
 
AOTI: Have you checked out any of the Italian restaurants here in Chicago? What’s the best one and how does it compare?
 
PT: There are a couple. One is Prosecco and one is Marcello. It’s like home.
 
AOTI: Do you cook? If so, what is your specialty?
 
PT: Not too much but I do cook. The easiest is pasta.
 
AOTI: You’re from Milan, which is considered one of the fashion capitals of the world. What’s your favorite place to shop?
 
PT: There’s the coast of Vittorio Emanuele. It’s a beautiful street with a lot of stores. It’s not very, very expensive but it’s nice.
 
AOTI: What is the worst American fashion trend?
 
PT: There are a lot but I think the shirts are too wide. They’re not fitted to the body.
 
AOTI: Which of your teammates is the best and worst dressed?
 
PT: I think Pavel Pardo is the best, because he has the European style. I don’t want to say a worst, I’m too respectful.
 
AOTI: You recently tweeted that you were having surgery on your finger. How’s the new finger?
 
PT: It’s heavier. There’s a lot of iron inside.
 
AOTI: What’s your favorite MLS away city that you visited this season?
 
PT: New York. It was my first time there. We went to Times Square and it was beautiful with all the lights.

05 December 12:04 pm

The club announced today that starting goalkeeper Sean Johnson started a three week training stint in England earlier today, beginning with Premier League club Stoke City (Dec. 5-9) before joining U.S. Men’s National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard and coach Chris Woods at Everton FC (December 10-23) for the second straight offseason.

I caught up with Sean Wednesday morning to talk how his first session went with Stoke, his third offseason abroad and what matches he’ll be taking in over the next few weeks.

Jeff Crandall: Sean, over the past three years you’ve spent parts of your offseason in Spain, Germany and England, do you feel tired at all or is the experience too good to pass up?

Sean Johnson: No, I don’t feel tired at all. I love taking in these experiences and I’ve learned over the past couple years how to deal with the management of my offseason.

It’s about soaking in the experience but also getting the rest and recover enough to be ready to go 100 percent for the season.

JC: What is Stoke like so far?

SJ: I think it’s been a great experience working with guys like Thomas Sorensen, Asmir Begovic and Carlo Nash.

Training with their goalkeeper coach and getting the chance to play and train with the guys at the top level. Just seeing how another team operates gives you perspective.

JC: Have you hung out with your U.S. Men’s National teammates Maurice Edu and Geoff Cameron yet?

SJ:  I’ve hung out with both of them. I’m actually staying with Maurice at the moment. They’re great guys to be around and it’s just good to see familiar faces and make most of the time you have with your friends while you’re over here.

JC: Next week you head to Everton for the second consecutive offseason. How important is it for you to have guys like Tim Howard and Chris Woods working with you there?

 

WATCH: Sean Johnson #4 in MLS 24 under 24

SJ: Having been in with the national team a lot more this past year, training with Chris and Tim again here is a fantastic opportunity to keep some continuity and show how I’m growing.

To be in that environment day-in and day-out and make yourself a better goalkeeper will do wonders for me as a player.

JC: What games are you taking in the next few weeks?

SJ: I’m going to try and take in as many games as I can. This weekend’s lineup has Stoke going to Aston Villa on Saturday and then Everton hosts Tottenham on Sunday at Goodison Park so it works out well. Manchester United also player Man City in a derby match on Sunday so there’s a lot of excitement for that as well.

Depending on how things work out, I’ll hopefully go to a few more games while I’m here. It’s great to go to those stadiums and see everything that goes into a match.

JC: You end your time with Everton just before Christmas. What are you doing with the rest of your time before preseason begins on January 18?

SJ: I’m going to be back in Atlanta through Christmas and maybe New Years. I caught up with the family for a week over Thanksgiving and planned to be there longer.

Because I was coming over here I decided to go down to Florida for a week by myself to get away and be able to get ready for this experience.

JC: Great to hear from you Sean. We’ll talk soon.

SJ: Have a good one!

 

28 November 12:12 pm

When we unveiled the #Fire15 players list in conjunction with the club’s 15th anniversary earlier this year, I spoke about how spectacular most of the goals Marco Pappa scored in a Fire uniform were. Off the top of my head, I can think of only three that the Guatemalan scored from inside of the box in his five seasons in Chicago.

Since the Fire Goal of the Year tournament began in 2010, Pappa has always had at least one entry make the final four with the current Heerenveen midfielder getting there with high margin defeats of his early-round opponents.

Ironically enough though, that support seems to wane in later rounds.

In 2010, Pappa's bending strike against San Jose (which went on to win MLS Goal of the Year) was narrowly defeated in the final by Logan Pause's equally stunning long-distance bomb at Toronto.

Last year, Pappa's hat trick clincher at Real Salt Lake (one of his four entries in the tournament that year) fell at the semi-final stage to the now legendary long-distance blast "through the guise of smoke" from Jalil Anibaba in an early round U.S. Open Cup qualifier vs. Colorado.

As of Tuesday night, Pappa will once again fall short of winning the club’s Goal of the Year honors after Austin Berry’s game-winning header (8/4 vs. Toronto) pulled yet another upset over the Guatemalan’s olimpico (4/28 vs. Seattle).

At the very least, it’s an interesting phenomenon.

I say that because having managed the Fire Facebook and Twitter accounts for nearly three years, there is no player that evoked as much consistent response in terms of Likes, Retweets and web traffic then Marco. An update on his play in a friendly with Guatemala, a photo of him from training or even a post about another player would even bring a comment or six about “El Chapin del Fuego”.

With Pappa no longer a member of the Fire, this has all died down a bit but how ironic when you consider that his latest defeat came against a player that could take on the mantel of sentimental popularity in 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year Austin Berry.

Berry has barnstormed to today’s final, where he’s facing down another fan favorite in the team’s 2012 MVP Chris Rolfe and his stunning quick kick in little space (9/22 vs. Columbus).

While Rolfe’s goal could have been a number one seed (his strike vs. San Jose was), neither of today’s finalists were top seeds in their respective brackets. As we learn every November, anyone can win.

As we have when deciding the top 15 players, goals and matches in Fire history or just putting fans on season tickets, we at Chicago-Fire.com feel it most important to utilize fan input and engagement in determining valuable pieces of our club.

Happy voting everyone!

 

21 November 7:21 am

In the latest edition of Quaker Journeys, we sat down with Chicago Fire defender Austin Berry to his development from an all-sport athlete in Cincinnati, to a focus on the beautiful game at the University of Louisville to becoming the 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year with the Chicago Fire.

Be sure to check out our previous Quaker Journey with Patrick Nyarko (Part 1 and Part 2).

07 November 2:48 pm

While the Chicago Fire is one team, the squad currently consists of 27 players each with a different origin, starting point and story of how they arrived at Toyota Park as a Fire player. As part of the club’s partnership with Quaker Oats, we present Journeys – an in-depth look at each player’s path to Chicago.

In the second part of the first edition we sat down with Ghanaian midfielder Patrick Nyarko to better understand the shape of his journey as an academics-focused part-time soccer player on the gravel fields of Kumasi, Ghana to a MAC Hermann finalist at Virginia Tech and his eventual transformation into one of the most dangerous attackers in Major League Soccer.

See Part One Here

31 October 10:01 am

After a frustrating draw at home on the last day of the season against D.C., the Fire now have a quick turn around in Wednesday night’s Knockout Match at Toyota Park against a very experienced Houston Dynamo side (LIVE 8pm CT on ESPN2/ESPN Deportes). Anything can happen in a one-off game but, with the home crowd behind them, the Fire will be looking to build on the good performance against DC and advance to play Sporting KC this weekend. Here are some things to look out for from a tactical perspective.

Counter attack: the Fire's best friend

Against D.C. last week, especially in the first half, the Fire used the counter attack to perfection, creating an enormous amount of chances but failing capitalize. The Fire allowed DC to be lulled into a false sense of security by sitting back, letting them control the possession and move men forward before breaking at lightning speed if and when the Men in Red were able to turn the ball over.

WATCH: Coach's Take on Houston

 

 

Patrick Nyarko, Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald all combined well and used their pace to carve DC open and, with some better finishing, would have been well clear by halftime. As I noted in a previous preview, Houston's midfield has a tendency to be slow to track back, something that the Fire can certainly capitalize on.

If the Men in Red can counter as well as they did against D.C., Houston are going to be in trouble.

Finishing: improvement needed for the Playoffs

As I previously mentioned, the Fire had a host of chances last week against  United but only managed to put one in the back of the net. In the playoffs, not taking your chances is a recipe for disaster and the Fire will need to make the most of the ones they get tonight.

MacDonald was the main culprit against D.C. and he will certainly be looking to get on the score sheet in his first playoff game. MacDonald is his own biggest critic and I am sure he's been working doubly hard in training since Saturday. He is the kind of player who could go on a scoring run and getting a goal against Houston could start it.

Assistant coach Mike Makovich put it well in his pre-match interview, stating that he "would be worried" if the Fire weren't creating chances. In the Playoffs, a certain amount of luck is needed, but if the Fire create as many openings as they did against D.C., they should be fine.

Limiting defensive mistakes: no needless fouls around the box

Houston are the masters of the dead ball and the less chances the Fire give Brad Davis and co. to put the ball in the box, the better. The Dynamo are extremely good in the air and are also a very intelligent team, constantly looking for fouls in the final third.

Houston coach Dom Kinnear is also famous for his attempts to influence referees, something that he will surely be trying to do on Wednesday night. The Fire must try and not give referee Baldomero Toledo anything to think about, because the more needless fouls the team gives up, the more likely he will start hearing it from the Houston bench.

Houston's size, with giants like Macoumba Kandji and Will Bruin are tough to handle. Aside from the massively experienced Arne Friedrich and playoff experienced Segares, the Fire's other three likely defensive starters, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba and Sean Johnson all will be making their MLS Playoff debuts so putting as little pressure on them as possible will be helpful.

WATCH:  Players Preview Houston

 

Patrick Nyarko, Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald all combined well and used their pace to carve DC open and, with some better finishing, would have been well clear by halftime.

As I noted in a previous preview, Houston's midfield has a tendency to be slow to track back, something that the Fire can certainly capitalize on.

Kofi Sarkodie: Potential weak link for the Dynamo

For all the talk of Houston's playoff experience, one player who will be taking his postseason bow for the Dynamo is right-back Kofi Sarkodie.

Sarkodie only started seven games this season for the Dynamo and though he is not a rookie, he did not see any action during the teams run to the 2011 MLS Cup. I expect the Fire to try and test out Sarkodie as often as possible Wednesday night.

Flaco Fernandez had an improved performance against D.C. last weekend and if he can continue to get forward and combine with the attackers and left back Segares on Sarkodie's side of the field, it may cause the youngster problems.

In Houston's last meaningful game against the Philadelphia Union on October 20, the only Philly goal came on a cross from Sarkodie's side. He stood off the ball and allowed the cross to be played into the box for Jack McInerney to score. Another mistake like that could cost the Dynamo on Wednesday night.

Prediction: In a very tight and tense match, the Fire come out 2-1 winners with goals from Sherjill MacDonald and Rookie of the Year Award runaway, Austin Berry. 

30 October 10:18 am

It all comes down to Halloween. The Fire begin the quest for their second MLS Cup trophy on Wednesday, Oct. 31 when they welcome the Houston Dynamo to Toyota Park at 8:00 p.m. CT live on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and 97.5 ESPN Deportes.
 
The Daily Herald’s Orrin Schwarz spoke with two Fire legends, Jesse Marsch and Evan Whitfield about what the Fire need to do to succeed in the playoffs.
 
“They’ve got to find a way to get some momentum going,” said Marsch, now head coach of the Montreal Impact.
 
One player who is on a hot streak is midfielder Patrick Nyarko, whose blast against D.C. United is up for MLS Goal of the Week.
 
Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com, “I’ve never been a shooter…I’ve never scored such a goal.”
 
His newfound confidence will be huge for the Fire in the playoffs. “I can try it from anywhere,” said Nyarko. “It gives the defense something else to think about.”
 
Sports Illustrated’s Avi Creditor broke down the MLS Cup Playoff field and gave reasons that the Fire will and won’t win the MLS Cup.   
 
An integral part of the team’s success this season, the center back duo Arne Friedrich and Austin Berry sat down with RedEye to discuss the bond that they’ve formed.
 
The two defenders went head-to-head to see who knew the other best.
 
One familiar face Wednesday night will be former Fire forward Calen Carr, albeit now as a member of the Dynamo. Carr spoke to the Houston Chronicle about overcoming his recent concussion and what he remembered most fondly about his time with the Fire.