ESPN FC and other outlets reported Thursday that Chicago, which acknowledged two weeks ago it had received an offer for midfielder Shaun Maloney, has agreed to a transfer for the 32-year-old midfielder.
Maloney was signed eight months ago as a Designated Player but he and the Fire have not attained a solid, consistent level of play. Chicago is last in the Eastern Conference at 6-12-5 and five points out of the playoff tier.
He missed some time with back problems he aggravated in June after playing in a U.S. Open Cup game against Louisville City a few days after returning from international duty with Scotland. Maloney has scored three goals and registered two assists in his 14 appearances (all starts).
“It's not official yet, but basically Shaun, for family reasons, has asked to have a chance to go back,” Fire coach Frank Yallop informed reporters Thursday at the team’s training session. “We're working on it right now.”
Maloney joined the Fire in January from English club Wigan Athletic for an undisclosed fee. Along with Maloney, the Fire signed attackers David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike during the offseason, and in July the club added former Toronto FC striker Gilberto off waivers after trading the rights for Didier Drogba to Montreal in exchange for allocation money. The loss of Maloney would still leave the Fire with myriad midfield options; Accam and Patrick Nyarko can play wide, and so can Harry Shipp, who along with Matt Polster, Chris Ritter and Michael Stephens can also fill the central slots.
“Obviously, you've got to feel for the individual,” said Yallop. “He loves the team. He loves Chicago. But there are things he has to sort out and be there for people. We did fine on the deal, because in the end we sort of had to make it happen for Shaun, for him and his family."