Welcome to this week’s Fire Focus, an in-depth look at the latest from the world of Chicago Fire FC.
Kacper Przybylko’s Introductory Presser
The club introduced Kacper Przybylko to the press last week. The Fire traded for the former Union striker, parting with $1.15 million in GAM. Given the hefty price tag and the player’s MLS experience, Przybylko told On Tap about the importance of taking a leadership role.
“[There is] not potential [to be a leader]. I think I have to be a leader with what I’ve already accomplished in this league,” Przybylko said. “I want to be a leader and to help the young kids here.”
The Fire will certainly look for Przybylko to be a leader given the amount of money they are investing in him. In addition to the $1.15 million the club traded for him, a three-year guaranteed deal was put on the table for Przybylko to sign.
“[The offer was] a huge meaning for someone who is almost 29 [years old],” Przybylko said. “Just to reach out to my agent [and say] ‘we want him’, it shows how valued you are.”
Potential Practice Facility
In arguably the biggest news of the week, it was announced that the club, the City of Chicago, and the Chicago Housing Authority began preliminary discussions on a potential new practice facility for the Fire.
The facility, if built, would be located at the current side of Addams Park. The plot of land is located in the Roosevelt Square area on the Near West Side of the city:
While it is exciting news for the club, fans should not get ahead of themselves. The Fire were in talks with the city last year regarding a new practice facility. The proposed $90 million venue would have been located on the Northwest Side of the city. That deal was dead in the water before the end of 2021.
The move would be massive for the club, however. As it currently stands, the Fire lease the club’s former home – SeatGeek Stadium – to train. The club also shares those training fields with the public. This prevents the club from having 100% control of its training operations.
Community meetings on the project will begin in March. More information on the meetings is forthcoming and will be posted at chicago.gov/chicagofire.
Rafael Czichos, the Fire’s first signing this offseason, has yet to join the team in Florida for preseason training. ESPN’s Derek Rae reported that Czichos was still in Germany as of last week.
However, when reached for comment, the club did direct point to another tweet of Rae’s which stated Czichos is still sorting out visa issues and should join the team this week.
In other transfer news, there are reports from the UK stating the Fire have bid for the services of Blackburn Rovers midfielder Joe Rothwell.
Rothwell is out of contract this summer, meaning Rovers risk losing the 27-year-old for free if they do not sell him in January.
Interestingly, the midfielder was left out of Rovers’ 0-0 draw with Luton Town yesterday. Blackburn manager Tony Mowbray did reportedly say that Rothwell wishes to explore other opportunities before the January transfer window shuts.
There are other opportunities for Rothwell, who has scored three goals and assisted on a further seven in 27 matches this season. The likes of Bournemouth have already bid three different times for Rothwell.
However, the Fire have reportedly outbid the south England side. Fotmob currently values Rothwell at just over $1.33 million.
Fire Preseason Match in the Books
The Fire played Minnesota United for their first preseason match of 2022 on Saturday. The match ended in a 0-0 draw with few chances created between the two sides.
The first half saw a starting XI composed of many players who will likely be in the first team come Feb. 26. Although, some key players were missing such as Czichos and Gaga Slonina, who was called up last week for U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup Qualifiers.
Ezra Hendrickson changed the entire lineup for the second half, giving lots of young players like Jhon Duran, Jhon Espinoza, Victor Bezerra, and Alex Monis the opportunity to show their stuff.
You can read a more detailed recap of the match here.
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