[MLS TRANSACTIONS] No MLS team has been more aggressive on the summer transfer market than Chicago, and the Fire went down to the 2012 MLS trade deadline, adding Argentine-born Mexican international Guillermo Franco.
Six starters in the Fire's 3-1 win over Montreal on Saturday are first-year players who weren't in the lineup when it played the Impact to a 1-1 tie on opening day in March:
-- American defender Austin Berry (23), selected in SuperDraft from Univ. of Louisville in January.
-- German defender Arne Friedrich (33), free agent signed from Wolfsburg (Germany) in March.
-- American forward Chris Rolfe (29), free agent signed from Aalborg BK (Denmark) in April.
-- Brazilian midfielder Alex (23), free agent signed from Wohlen (Switzerland) in June.
-- Dutch forward Sherjill MacDonald (27), acquired from Beerschot (Belgium) in July.
-- Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Fernandez (26), acquired from the Seattle Sounders in July.
The moves have paid off as the Fire is 10-3-2 since mid-June and is within one point of first place in the Eastern Conference.
To make way for its new players, the Fire loaned Argentine midfielder Sebastian Grazzini to Atletico de Rafaela in Argentina, Uruguayan Federico Puppo to Defensor Sporting in Uruguay and most recently young California-bred Israeli Orr Barouch to Bnei Yehuda in Israel. It first loaned Guatemalan starMarco Pappa to Heerenveen, then sold him to the Dutch club.
The 35-year-old Franco is a two-time World Cup veteran who joins the Fire from Pachuca, where he made 12 appearances in 2012.
He began his career with Argentine club San Lorenzo in 1995, moved to Monterrey in Mexico in 2002 and became a naturalized Mexican citizen two years later. He then spent four years (2006-09) in Spain with Villarreal, two seasons in England with West Ham United (2009-11) and one year back in Argentina with Velez Sarsfield (2011).