Chicago Fire keep nine, cut nine

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The Chicago Fire soccer team warms up at the Toyota Park practice field with goalie with Sean Johnson taking a few shots  Tuesday getting ready for their big match-up with Manchester United at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday.

    The Chicago Fire soccer team warms up at the Toyota Park practice field with goalie with Sean Johnson taking a few shots Tuesday getting ready for their big match-up with Manchester United at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Chicago Fire forward Joey Calistri celebrates after scoring a goal against the Colorado Rapids in the second half of an MLS soccer match Saturday, June 18, 2016, in Commerce City, Colo.

    Chicago Fire forward Joey Calistri celebrates after scoring a goal against the Colorado Rapids in the second half of an MLS soccer match Saturday, June 18, 2016, in Commerce City, Colo. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/23/2016 9:35 PM

The Chicago Fire announced Wednesday it is picking up the 2017 contract options for nine players and declining the options on nine other players.

Homegrown players Patrick Doody (Naperville), Drew Conner (Cary) and Joey Calistri (Deerfield) were among those who were asked back. Veteran goalkeepers Sean Johnson and Matt Lampson had their options picked up also, as did midfielders Arturo Alvarez, Matt Polster and rookie defenders Brandon Vincent and Jonathan Campbell.

 

"We have made decisions that we believe give us maximum flexibility as we execute our plan for the next phase of our roster construction," said Fire general manager Nelson Rodríguez in a team press release sent out Wednesday afternoon. "The men whose contracts we did not exercise have given their all to the club and our city. We sincerely hope that they are successful in their respective next opportunity and we are thankful for the commitment they demonstrated on behalf of Chicago Fire SC."

The Fire did not pick up the options for midfielder Khaly Thiam, a midseason signing, and forward Luis Solignac, acquired in a trade from Colorado at the deadline. Midfielder Michael Stephens, a Naperville native, and defender Eric Gehrig, from northwest Indiana, also were among those not invited back.

The Fire had eight players already under contract for next season, giving the team 17 now on the roster. It is expected to begin adding players in January through the MLS SuperDraft and the transfer window.

The Fire placed 20th in the 20th-team league in 2016, its second straight season at the bottom of the MLS table. The club has not played in the MLS playoffs since 2012.

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