In the most unsurprising move of the transfer season so far, the Chicago Fire announced the signing of former Mexican International Pavel Pardo on Tuesday on a deal running through the end of the 2011 season. Months of speculation finally drew to a close as the Fire released Bratislav Ristic on a free transfer to create roster space for Pardo, who most recently played for Club America. Contrary to popular belief, Pardo has not been assigned to a Designated Player slot, but will instead fill the international spot previously occupied by Ristic.
So what does this mean for the Fire? Expect changes to the starting line-up and lots of them. The Fire are fortunate to have a full week before they host the Philadelphia Union to toy with new formations and starting lineup variations. The club certainly didn’t sign Pardo to have him sit on the bench, so we can expect to see one of the Fire’s central midfielders be relegated to the bench for the match against Philadelphia.
And if that midfielder is Logan Pause, which it will most likely be, we may see him moved to the right back position at the expense of Jalil Anibaba. Pause has spent significant time playing at right back for the club and having failed to really provide the spark Chicago needs in midfield this season, moving Pause to right back would be the only suitable option for Klopas if he intends on avoiding a change in captaincy. Anibaba has enjoyed a steady season at right back, but as a rookie he lacks the experience of fighting for an MLS playoff spot, whereas Pause has been there and seen it all before. That said, Pause’s speed could be an issue at right back. As a player not known for pace, Pause may struggle against some of the league’s faster wingers – an area Anibaba has coped remarkably well in.
With Pardo presumably slotting in for Pause, Grazzini – who also signed for the Fire this month – will most likely take up a center attacking position in midfield while Pardo drops deep and anchors the midfield. Both players are excellent passers of the ball and will certainly provide much needed attacking impetus in the final third.
Logan Pause: Time for the captain to move to the bench?
Regardless of whether Klopas opts for a diamond formation with Grazzini at the top of the diamond or with the two new signings partnering each other in midfield, Patrick Nyarko and Marco Pappa are almost guaranteed to retain their starting spots on the wings. If this is the case, Dominic Oduro, who has enjoyed a fantastic debut season so far, will continue playing up front and will be joined by either Christian Nazarit or Diego Chaves. Oduro can also play on the wing if necessary.
The signings of Pardo and Grazzini will only benefit the Fire as they seek to make a strong push for a playoff spot. These acquisitions will also add depth to the Fire’s midfield and increase the competition for places. Baggio Husidic, Daniel Paladini, and Corben Bone will all have their work cut out for them in order to earn time on the pitch, but ultimately, competition for places is what you want in a team.
For the Fire players and staff, they must be thankful they have until next Wednesday to adapt to a new lineup, as well as a new formation. As for Fire supporters, the Philadephia match won’t be able to come fast enough as fans eagerly anticipate seeing how Klopas shuffles around his starting eleven and utilizes his two big name signings.
Potential Starting XI vs. Philadelphia on Aug. 3rd:
GK – Johnson
RB – Pause
CB – Cuesta
CB – Gibbs
LB – Segares
CDM – Pardo
RM – Pappa
LM – Nyarko
CAM – Grazzini
ST – Oduro
ST – Nazarit