It had been a fairly quiet off-season for the Chicago Fire -- until Wednesday.
One day before the MLS SuperDraft, the Fire traded its first-round draft pick, No. 11 overall, to Colorado for holding midfielder Jeff Larentowicz. The Fire also sent allocation money and a 2013 international player slot to Colorado. In addition to Larentowicz, the Fire gets the 30th overall pick in the draft from the Rapids, a second-round pick the Fire originally sent to Colorado last fall for midfielder Wells Thompson.
Larentowicz, 29, and an eight-year MLS veteran, joins a crowded Fire midfield, raising questions about the future of 36-year-old Pavel Pardo, a World Cup veteran, and 31-year-old Logan Pause, the team captain.
Larentowicz scored 3 goals last year, following a career-best 7 in 2011. He has four caps with the U.S. national team.
"Jeff is a hard-nosed player who has consistently been one of the best midfielders in MLS," Fire president of soccer operations Javier Leon said in a team statement. "His MLS Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship pedigree will be a welcome addition to our squad."
The Fire likely isn't done remaking its roster, however. Leon and coach Frank Klopas continue to work to bring in international talent, and depth remains an issue with the off-season departure defender Dan Gargan and rumored departure of midfielder Alvaro Fernandez. Fernandez is expected to go on loan to a club in Qatar.
Fire players report to Toyota Park on Friday for medical exams before departing for Florida and the start of preseason training. The Fire opens the season at Los Angeles on March 3, with the home opener March 9 against New England.
The MLS SuperDraft will be broadcast on ESPN at 11 a.m. Thursday.
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