Chicago Fire trades out of first and second rounds of MLS SuperDraft

 
Updated 1/12/2019 11:03 PM
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  • Photo courtesy of Chicago FireChicago Fire general manager and president Nelson Rodriguez

    Photo courtesy of Chicago FireChicago Fire general manager and president Nelson Rodriguez

  • General manager Nelson Rodriguez introduces new Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunovic to the media in 2015. The MLS SuperDraft came to Chicago Friday, but no players did, at least none the team could present to the hometown crowd.

      General manager Nelson Rodriguez introduces new Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunovic to the media in 2015. The MLS SuperDraft came to Chicago Friday, but no players did, at least none the team could present to the hometown crowd. Orrin Schwarz | Staff Photographer

The MLS SuperDraft came to Chicago Friday, but no players did, at least none the team could present to the hometown crowd.

The Fire made three trades -- two in the first round -- winding up with $150,000 in general allocation money and the rights to a player to be named later. They did not make any selections.

"We're pleased," Fire president/general manager Nelson Rodriguez said at McCormick Place. "We feel we've come out of here with an important amount of money that helps us in some of the other roster moves that we hope to fulfill.

"We also got a player who we believe is ready to contribute to the first team, maybe not as a player but as an important piece. So overall I think it was a good day for us."

Rounds 3 and 4 are Monday via teleconference.

Preseason training starts Jan. 21. The Fire opens the season March 2 at the Los Angeles Galaxy.

One local player was selected in the draft. The Portland Timbers, who played in MLS Cup in December, used the 23rd overall pick to take Barrington-born forward Ryan Sierakowski.

A McHenry West High School graduate, Sierakowski played for the Fire's academy and could have been signed by the Fire as a homegrown player.

Instead, Sierakowski said, the Fire called him a month ago to say it would not sign him.

"It was fine," Sierakowski said, admitting that being a first-round pick was "kind of" vindication.

"I knew that the right team would get me, and I just trusted God that whoever wanted me and whoever appreciated me would end up buying me."

"We feel good about the players in our academy right now," Rodriguez said. " ... We've made some offers to a few other players that will be homegrown status.

"We're happy that Ryan got drafted. I think that's fantastic."

The Fire needs to restock its roster. It started the day with just 18 players, some of whom seem likely to be loaned out to a USL team.

Since the 2018 season ended the Fire has lost or seems likely to lose a number of players, some of whom were supposed to form the club's long-term core when they arrived:

• Left back Brandon Vincent, a 2016 first-round draft pick who surprised the club by retiring at age 24;

• Right back Matt Polster, who is out of contract, is expected to sign in Scotland. Polster, a first-round draft pick in 2015, was the longest-serving player with the Fire;

• Forward/midfielder Michael de Leeuw, who signed with a Dutch club;

• Central defender Johan Kappelhof remains out of contract and the Fire has talked trade for him from within the league, Rodriguez said, adding the club still hopes to have him back;

• Left back Andrew Gutman, a highly regarded Fire Academy product from Hinsdale who won the 2018 Hermann Trophy as the best collegiate player in the nation but has signed with Celtic in Scotland instead of joining the Fire first team, Rodriguez said.

In November the Fire declined the contract options of:

• Homegrown midfielder Drew Conner of Cary;

• Central defender and 2016 first-round draft pick Jonathan Campbell;

• Forward/midfielder and 2017 first-round draft pick Daniel Johnson;

• Goalkeeper Patrick McLain

• Forward Yura Movsisyan;

• Forward Luis Solignac.

Last week the Fire announced it had re-signed coach Veljko Paunovic to a two-year contract with an option for a third season. Rodriguez cited the need for "continuity" in re-signing Paunovic despite a three-year regular-season record of 31-46-25.

The Fire has made the playoffs once in Paunovic's three seasons, losing its only game 4-0 to the New York Red Bulls.

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