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updated: 10/19/2016 11:32 PM

Expect some roster turnover in Chicago Fire in off-season

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  • Chicago Fire forward David Accam is under contract for next season as a designated player, with a club option for 2018. But Accam and the club have been talking about a new deal.

      Chicago Fire forward David Accam is under contract for next season as a designated player, with a club option for 2018. But Accam and the club have been talking about a new deal.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

 
By Orrin Schwartz

It was kind of an unusual idea, especially coming from a second-year professional, but Matt Polster's suggestion makes some sense for the Chicago Fire.

"Things are coming together still," Polster said after Sunday's 2-1 victory against New England in the Fire's home finale. "It's been a long year, I think, with a lot of turnover from the beginning of the season. I know it's 33 games now into it, but I think having too much turnover year after year is tough just in general.

"I think if we get a core group of guys, keep this team for next year, build off that, I think you're going to see a little bit different (results). More chemistry together as a team will help us."

Polster isn't the first Fire player to suggest cutting down on the roster turnover the past few years. After all, Polster is one of just eight current players who finished last season on the team roster.

So the question is, what will general manager Nelson Rodriguez and coach Veljko Paunovic do this winter? Do they opt to let this group jell, or do they continue to make significant changes?

"It all depends on management, what they want to do," said midfielder/forward David Accam after training Wednesday. "I would love to have all the players that we have here this year to move on to next year. That's the best option."

Considering the Fire is 7-16-10 and needs a victory Sunday at Toronto FC (3 p.m., Comcast SportsNet) to have a chance to move up to 19th place in the 20-team league, more turnover is expected this winter. Don't be surprised if roughly 10 players from the current 26-man roster aren't with the club when the 2017 season kicks off in March.

Rodriguez will have two DP slots open this winter. He has some allocation money, both targeted and general, to use. He has talked about upgrading the midfield in particular. There is the SuperDraft, in which the Fire could pick third overall, maybe fourth. More homegrown players could sign with the first team.

Rodriguez has made some surprise moves in his first year on the job -- the trade of homegrown player Harry Shipp in February springs to mind -- so nobody is safe.

But there is an outline of the core group Polster mentioned. First-year Fire players Michael de Leeuw, midfielder Arturo Alvarez, defenders Johan Kappelhof, Jonathan Campbell and Brandon Vincent are lineup regulars now and, along with Polster and Accam, look like a good group to build around.

Only six of the 26 players have guaranteed contracts for next year, though.

"If we can keep a handful of guys, it would be nice to keep a lot of them, I mean, because of last year we had a lot of turnover and this year we had to rebuild," Polster added Wednesday. "I think when you're trying to rebuild it's harder the next year to find that core again. I think that's what teams that are successful do. They try and keep a core group of guys and build around that."

Contract talks:

David Accam is under contract for next season as a designated player, with a club option for 2018, but he and the club have been talking about a new deal.

It's becoming a bit of a sore topic for Accam, 26, the team's leading scorer with 9 goals.

"We have been talking about my future for a long time, and I am frustrated for it not to be resolved," Accam said. " ... I want it to be resolved as soon as possible. That's what I told them, I want to stay here. I want to be back. So we need to sit down and talk and see where the future is."

• Follow Orrin on Twitter @Orrin_Schwarz

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