[MLS SPOTLIGHT] The rumored departure of Diego Chaves from the Chicago Fire is official. Chilean media reported Sunday that the 25-year-old has signed with Primera Division team Palestino.
“Diego Chaves was signed for the 2011 campaign,” said Fire head coach Frank Klopas on the club’s Web site of the Uruguayan striker who scored six goals and registered one assist in 29 games. “We had conversations with Diego throughout the offseason, however, with recent signings of Rafael Robayo and Federico Puppo coming into the fold, it became difficult to bring him back. We wish him the best with his new club.”
After joining the Fire, Chaves became the first player in club history to score in his first three regular-season appearances. Yet though the Fire finished strongly, it missed the playoffs and has since jettisoned several players, including attackers Cristian Nazarit and Gabriel Ferrari, in addition to losing Chaves.
“You’re always going to make moves, when you see things,” said Klopas last week at the MLS SuperDraft, in which the Fire selected centerback Austin Berry (Louisville), striker Lucky Mkosana (Dartmouth) and defender Hunter Jumper (Virginia). “Sometimes, it’s not that the players are bad, it just didn’t click, it didn’t work. We feel good where we are right now but we know we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
The Fire continues negotiations with Mexican midfielder Pavel Pardo, who in 13 games as a midseason addition scored one goal and provided five assists. Puppo is a direct replacement for Chaves: he’s the same age, comes from the same country and plays the same position. Robayo, 27, is a Colombian midfielder whom Klopas believes is equally valuable on both sides of the ball. The club has retained Argentine midfielder Sebastian Grazzini, who arrived along with Pardo and in just 11 games scored five goals and supplied four assists.
“I’m excited, like everyone is at this time, but the base that we have continues, we made some good additions, along with the draft picks,” Klopas said. “But the most important thing for me, like I said, was to have everyone from the beginning to start preseason, because the six, seven weeks are crucial to build the team, because that is where the work is going to get done.”
Preseason preparation starts this week with local training sessions and on a trip on Friday to Florida, where the team will stay for two weeks and play Honduran club Real Espana on Feb. 4.