BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- With Thursday’s signing of Inter Milan youth product Paolo Tornaghi, questions about who would round out the team’s goalkeeper corps were officially answered, though following his six-save performance last Wednesday vs. Columbus, it was probably never in doubt.
“I’m excited,” Tornaghi told Chicago-Fire.com following the team’s Thursday morning training session.”I played over a month of preseason here so I had time to get to know the team and staff and it feels good to sign a contract here. I’m very happy to be a member of the Chicago Fire.”
When his name appeared on the club’s list of initial preseason trialists, it seemed a bit of an outlier. With number one keeper Sean Johnson returning and Jay Nolly brought in over the offseason to serve as his veteran backup, the question of the team using an international spot on a third goalkeeper, Inter Milan background or not, seemed unlikely.
But in last Wednesday’s preseason match vs. Columbus many saw what the team’s Technical Staff had seen all along: a great young shot-stopper capable of keeping his team in a game.
“I was happy after that game,” said Tornaghi “I think after 10 minutes I had two saves. It was the first time I got a full 90 minutes with the first team and I tried to make the most of it. I made some great saves and coming out of it I have more confidence.”
Though Tornaghi’s only first team action has come on loan stints with lower level Italian sides Como and Rimini, Chicago Fire goalkeeping coach Aron Hyde rates the 23-year-old backstop quite highly.
“[Paolo] has had a lot of confidence in the games he played and has continued to show confidence in himself,” said Hyde. “He’s confident with the ball at his feet and that’s important because its how we want to play. He knows the game and reads it well. We wouldn’t have brought him here if we didn’t think he could challenge Sean and Jay, which is good for me. Sean is obviously the #1 but we want three goalkeepers fighting for one spot.”
Asked about the wisdom in using an international spot on someone perceived at least initially to be the third goalkeeper, Hyde pointed to a down the road approach to Tornaghi’s signing.
“Perception from the outside is just that and we don’t worry about it. In terms of the international spot, when you look at the goalkeepers that were available, there really wasn’t much to pick from. We were disappointed with the pool of keepers coming out of college. We never felt that many of those guys really had a chance at the #3 shirt.”
Taking into account that Sean Johnson could be away on international duty for great gaps during the 2012 season, the team seemed to view any potential third goalkeeper as a backup that could get playing time during the campaign.
“You have to ask the hypothetical ‘if you have to put them in, are they going to get it done?” continued Hyde. “Paolo came in and he was the best of the unsigned keepers. I think long-term he’s young and a good option for the football club moving forward, not just this year but next year and further on.”
As for Tornaghi, he’s just awaiting his chance.
“I just want to train hard and see what I can do for my team. There is a coach that makes the decisions. I hope to help the teams in some games this season – I’m here for that. I wake up every morning with the hope that I can do something better here.”