For Fire, the Grazzini contract clock is ticking

Updated 6/27/2012 2:46 PM
  • Chicago Fire's Cory Gibbs, right, celebrates with Sebastian Grazzini after a goal against the Colorado Rapids last season. Grazzini's contract is set to expire Saturday.

    Chicago Fire's Cory Gibbs, right, celebrates with Sebastian Grazzini after a goal against the Colorado Rapids last season. Grazzini's contract is set to expire Saturday. Associated Press/2011 file

One way or another, Sebastian Grazzini's contract situation will be resolved in the next few days.

Maybe the Chicago Fire will pick up the option on the 31-year-old Argentine midfielder's contract, which expires Saturday, or maybe it will renegotiate.

Or maybe the team will move on without its playmaker after Friday's match at Sporting Kansas City (7 p.m., NBC Sports Network). This seemed the mostly likely direction Wednesday.

"Everyone knows that it's going on," veteran defender Dan Gargan said as Grazzini chipped a goal past backup goalkeeper Jay Nolly during training Wednesday. "It's not really for us to say. It'll be resolved one way or the other pretty soon. What's on the field is more important for us right now. We're in a tough stretch, and that's what we're focusing on."

Grazzini didn't have much to say, just that nothing is new and he isn't looking for more money. MLS Players Union figures show he is making $50,000 this season, though insiders say MLSPU figures are unreliable.

Meanwhile, with Wednesday's opening of the summer transfer window, several players have been rumored coming to Chicago.

"This is a business," Gargan said. "That happens all the time, not just this time of year. If we listened to rumors we'd have (Didier) Drogba, we'd have (David) Beckham, we'd have (Thierry) Henry. They'd all be in Chicago Fire uniforms, so it's not really for us to worry about that."

"It's a lot of rumors," coach Frank Klopas added. "We've always said that we're looking to add players. We'd like to sign another player, two maybe, depending on the situation. The rumors are out there, but we just have to make sure that we do our homework."

The new guy:

Recently signed Brazilian midfielder Alex is available for selection now that the summer transfer window has opened, and Klopas said Alex will travel with the team to Kansas City and be in the 18-player mix.

"We'll see how it goes," Klopas said.

Clearing roster space:

The Fire on Wednesday sent third-year defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe to Real Salt Lake in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 SuperDraft.

Watson-Siriboe appeared in 10 matches as a rookie in 2010, but he spent the 2011 season on loan to NASL side FC Tampa Bay. He has not played a first-team match this season.

The club also waived forward Kheli Dube on Tuesday. He hadn't played a first-team match this season either.

Change in the back:

With left back Gonzalo Segares suspended for Friday's match at Sporting Kansas City due to Saturday's red card, the Fire will have to adjust its back line.

Dan Gargan could move to the left side, with Jalil Anibaba taking Gargan's usual spot on the right side. Arne Friedrich, just back from a hamstring strain, would replace Anibaba in the middle alongside rookie Austin Berry.

"We'll find out," Gargan said. "There's a possibility of that with Gonz out. But I think we have a pretty good corps of defenders. I felt like we had a good defensive performance the last two (matches), and as I've said before, as long as we have our 11 working and not just the back line, we're a very tough team to break down. We're going to need to maintain that effort Friday as well."

Playing on the left would be an adjustment for Gargan, who got a few minutes there Saturday after the red card.

"It's different," he said. "I've played there a number of games in Toronto and in Colorado. It takes a little getting used to. Obviously, our body is moving in opposite directions and kind of shifting in opposite ways. My natural tendencies as a right back are to look over my right shoulder. It seems like such a small thing, but when it becomes a natural habit, you're going to have to change that."

Anibaba probably will be the player to sit when Segares returns, losing his spot to the veteran Friedrich.

"I'm just taking it one day at a time," the second-year back said. "I'm just taking it day by day. That's all I can really do."

The new/old defender:

During his rookie season in 2010, Steven Kinney looked like the Fire's right back of the future.

Then he tore his Achilles tendon in the final game of the season, followed by another foot injury last year. He finally returned to training this week, happy to be able to kick a soccer ball in anger again.

"My foot's still trying to figure out how to kick it, but it'll come back soon," Kinney said.

For now Kinney, 24, is just pushing through training every day, with the muscle soreness that comes from a year and a half of inactivity.

He hopes to regain his place in the starting lineup by the end of the season.

"It's always tough," he said. "We've got a great squad. But once I get my fitness back I can show the coaches I've still got it, and we'll go from there."

Follow Orrin's soccer reports on Twitter @orrinsoccer.

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