The news of midfielder Marco Pappa's immediate transfer to Dutch side SC Heerenveen Thursday was met with a mix of emotions in the Fire locker room.
“It’s tough to lose anyone,” Frank Klopas told Chicago-Fire.com Thursday. “Marco’s been here since he was 18 or 19. This is really where he got his exposure and opportunities. It’s a tough one because we love Marco -- Chicago will always be his home and the Fire will be his team.”
“We’re going to miss him dearly,” said Fire captain Logan Pause. “But it gives an opportunity for guys to step up. In the same breath, you can also say here’s a kid from Guatemala that came and made a name for himself in the league and what a great opportunity for him to go and grow professionally. I’m really happy for him.”
Pappa Thanks Fans, Talks Heerenveen Transfer
Pappa joined the Fire on loan from Guatemalan side CSD Municipal in 2008. The young attacking talent did enough during his first year and a half for the club to buy his rights and went on to appear in 112 regular season matches, scoring 26 career goals to tie him with Peter Nowak for fourth all-time on the team’s goal scoring list.
The Guatemalan international was named an All-Star in 2010 and later that season won MLS Goal of the Year.
The news that Pappa was leaving wasn’t new, only the timing was.
Two weeks ago the club announced Pappa had signed a pre-contract with the Eredivisie side with the original announcement allowing him to close out the season in Fire red but Monday’s change of heart seemed motivated by a view towards next season.
“We knew were going to lose him,” said Klopas. “I think opportunities like this come where you have to make decisions. We feel confident with the group and we’ll move ahead but this move gives us the opportunity to keep pieces together from the financial side of things.”
The Fire head coach refers to the view of the salary cap for next season. While it is league and club policy not to disclose salary figures, a cursory view of the Fire roster would make it clear that the team’s salary budget for next season could be a little high. With the transfer, the Fire will reportedly receive a great deal of allocation money that can be used towards more players in the future.
Combine that with the fact Pappa would likely be called up for at least a few more World Cup qualifying matches and the Fire would be without their starting midfielder for a few more games.
Asked about who he expected to fill the offensive void, Klopas pointed to a number of players to pick up the load.
“You brought a guy like [Alvaro] Fernandez. Last year he scored 12 goals [in all competitions]. If you go based on what the guy has done in the past, you feel that he’s going to be able to score some goals now. You brought Mack [Sherjill MacDonald] in. Chris [Rolfe] is a guy we didn’t have before and you feel like he’s getting opportunities and chances to score.”
As for the roster, Klopas currently only has 26 active players to choose from, leaving two spots open with the September 15 roster freeze date looming.
“Obviously now we do have a spot and an opportunity to add another player so we’re looking within the league. We have some options, having players in here before that we’ve looked at and maybe at that point weren’t in a position to sign. We’ve looked at all those options and we are going to look to add somebody else.”