Hurtado, Ianni defensive additions important to a spot Fire needed to address according to Frank Yallop
PHILADELPHIA -- For the second straight year, the Chicago Fire pulled the trigger on a trade the night before the MLS SuperDraft, acquiring central defenders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni from Seattle in exchange for Jalil Anibaba as well as swapping first round selections in Thursday’s draft.
The trade clearly bolsters a spot on the field where there seemed to be less competition last season with two MLS veterans that both have over 100 league appearances to their name, something that was key in pulling the trigger on Wednesday.
“[Coming in] right away I recognized that we were light on the defensive side of things,” said Fire head coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop. “Any chance I had to talk to clubs was about defenders and people with experience, especially in MLS. It’s always nice to think about getting players from the outside but I think getting guys that have been very successful in our league always feels better for me.”
A finalist for the league’s Defender of the Year award in 2009, Hurtado has spent the last five seasons with Sounders FC and is known for his positional awareness and maturity at the back.
The Colombian defender seems the surest of the new pair to challenge last season’s starting center backs Austin Berry and Bakary Soumare for a spot in the first 11 as Yallop looks to solidify a backline that shipped 52 goals last season.
“I look at Hurtado as being one of those guys with his experience, know-how and how he plays the game is really going to help us. With Patrick he’s been in the league for some time with Houston and now Seattle, he plays a little bit differently to Jhon, but having both of them on our books right away helps.”
With four center backs on his roster with solid starting experience in MLS, the question was raised to Yallop whether or not he was done maneuvering at the position and the first-year Fire manager explained he might not be finished.
“I’m not going to say who or whatever but there might be some movement with something we picked up. What I like about it is that I can handle four of them. I may use part of the trade or even guys that we have currently on the roster to get what I need.”
The team’s starting right back the past year and a half, Anibaba’s departure signals that another offseason acquisition, Lovel Palmer, is set to be the team’s starting right back.
Asked about the Fire’s depth at right back position, especially the lack of it at the start of 2013, Yallop said that fifth year defender Steven Kinney was penciled in to provide cover at the spot for the time being.
After a strong rookie season in 2010, Kinney has struggled with multiple injuries, making just two appearances since coming in the first two matches of 2013.
“Steven Kinney is a right full back and he’s coming into camp fully healthy and ready to go,” said Yallop. “You’ve seen him enough to know he’s a good player but obviously has had his injury problems. We’ll see if that’s an issue in pre-season. If it is then we’ll address it and make sure we have backup plans. If it isn’t we’ve got a good player that’s ready to go and is excited to come back.”