Chicago Fire’s Nelson Rodriguez: “We’re open for business”

By Ernesto Hernandez

Chicago Fire President and General Manager Nelson Rodriguez held his second media roundtable discussing various team related questions. For a team mired in 10th place and coming off a loss to the worst team in the league, the roundtable was short and uneventful.

Nelson Rodriguez started off by congratulating the U.S. Women’s National Team, the four Chicago Red Stars player on the national team and a call for people to come out and support the Red Stars. He also touted the ratings on ESPN+ claiming their ratings double that of their previous broadcast partner.

He touted the club being named ESPN Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year, a new partnership with Captain Morgan and the attempt to reunite with former players under the direction of Graham Parker, the Fire’s senior director of strategy and special projects.

For those more interested about the on-the-field product, two pieces of information stood out.

Rodriguez stated that after the U.S. Open Cup loss, he gave the team and coaching staff a five-game window to turn things around. That window ended with their most recent loss against FC Cincinnati.

The other piece, and perhaps the biggest takeaway, is when he said the club was “open for business.” While they are not in complete sell mode, he admitted that they are open to discuss trade talks and other offers for players. He added later on that they’re not just going to give players away, that the sense of urgency is stronger now and that they were patient to give the group a chance to gel though it has not happened.

As far as if he considers this season lost, Rodriguez said he did not see it that way. He said the team is not going to stop trying to win every game but that the margins remain thin.

He reiterated something he mentioned from the last roundtable, which is that they are still in pursuit of Designated Player signings even if it meant acquiring them now but waiting until January to incorporate them. He revealed that they made a $5 million offer for a South American player but that a European team came in with double the offer, and the Fire were not going to match it.

He did not give a name but The Athletic’s Guillermo Rivera posted that the name he heard was that of Colombian Luis Diaz.

With regards to head coach Veljko Paunovic’s future, Rodriguez said,  “I never discuss the status of a coach because no answer ends a discussion.”

The whole league now knows the Fire are open for business and that means that more trades like the Mo Adams one, who was sent to Atlanta United for $100,000 in General Allocation Money coming in 2020, could be on the horizon. It may also mean that not making the playoff is a real possibility and are preparing should the team fall further behind.

Speaking of Mo Adams, Rodriguez said the decision to trade him was because Adams was not going to make the protected list for the expansion draft and that they believe that in the holding midfielder position, they have quite a few players in the academy who have a lot of potential, even if they are not ready to contribute right away.

Aside from that, he was asked about the amended lease with the Village of Bridgeview as well as potentially playing in Soldier Field, and how moving to the city means little if they don’t make a better effort of connecting with the community through not only the on-field product but marketing the team more and getting the players more involved.

As stated before, the main takeaway is that the Fire are open for business and open to talk to teams about potential deals. Should the Fire be unable to go on a run, shedding off some salaries and wages will free up space and slots for DP-like signings.

There’s one more roundtable left at the end of the season. Where the team ultimately finishes, which is the most important thing, will dictate not only the types of questions Rodriguez takes but the direction the team will take come 2020.

The entire media roundtable is available for viewing at this link.


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