Fire revamps with three new DPs

The Chicago Fire has added Scottish international Shaun Maloney to the growing list of British players crossing the pond to play in MLS.

Maloney, 32, comes to MLS from English Championship team Wigan Athletic, which was relegated from the Premier League in 2013 despite winning the FA Cup. He takes the team’s third Designated Player slot and is in Chicago to attend the first day of preseason camp Monday. He will be officially added to the roster once his P-1 work visa is issued.

“Shaun is a very experienced player, having played in both the English and Scottish Premier Leagues, and we’re very happy to have signed someone of his caliber,” said head coach and director of soccer Frank Yallop. “His style of play fits in exactly with what we’re trying to do at the Fire. He’s a hard-working, attack-minded player who is really going to help this team and we’re excited to have signed him.”

Maloney, 32, is a product of Glasgow Celtic’s youth academy and played for the Bhoys' senior team for six years before setting out for England, where scored seven goals in 33 Premier League games for Aston Villa. After a return to Celtic, he moved onto Wigan, for which he played three and a half years. For the Latics, he scored 15 goals and registered 17 assists in 91 games.

The Fire also announced Sunday it had re-signed midfielder Alex, whose option had been declined in November. He and Maloney join a roster that has been buttressed in numerous places after Chicago set a league record last year by tying 18 of 34 games and finishing ninth.

“This club hasn’t had much success in the last five years and in order to change that you’ve got to change, and I think we’re in the middle of that,” says Yallop, who knows his history.

In five years, the Fire has played one playoff game, which it lost to eventual MLS Cup finalist Houston, 2-1, in the 2012 knockout round. Starting with its inaugural season in 1998, during which it doubled up on trophies -- MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup -- Chicago had qualified for the playoffs in 11 of its first 12 seasons, a record unmatched by any other team. (Seattle’s perfect run of six seasons began in 2009).

“This club’s been very successful in the past, so the expectations are higher,” says Yallop. “You’re expected to win, you’re expected to make the playoffs, you’re expected to be at the top because of past success even if it was a few years ago.”

Yallop, a former Premier League and international defender, started his rebuild in the back line. Last year, Chicago conceded 51 goals, more than any allowed by a playoff team, and for his second full season in charge of the Fire he has acquired Brazilian centerback Adailton, 31, who last played for Bahia in his native country.

“Adailton is a strong, powerful defender, said Yallop in the team press release announcing the deal for the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder. “This is a position we were looking to fill, so I’m pleased that we will be adding a player with his experience to our team.”

With money and Designated Player slots available, Yallop went shopping in Scandinavia and found a pair of African attackers in Sweden -- David Accam (Ghana) and Kennedy Igboananike (Nigeria) -- to Quincy Amarikwa (eight goals in 2014) and Mike Magee, the 21-goal MVP of 2013 who last year battled injuries before undergoing season-ending hip surgery in early September.

“He struggled with injuries from the start,” said Yallop of Magee, who played just 17 games but still tied for second on the team with seven goals. “He was always sore and trying to battle through it and in the end he just couldn’t do it.”

Only four teams scored fewer goals than the Fire’s 41.
1 comment about "Fire revamps with three new DPs".
  1. Futsal nation, January 26, 2015 at 8:48 a.m.

    As much as I want to get behind the Fire abd actually watch some games, I find it very difficult in seeing where they invest their money. Will these players improve the style of play? I highly doubt it. At least get some Home Gorwns in there to motivate us to go watch you guys play. How many more years until we see your ACademy products??

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