The Chicago Fire kicked off 2022 with their first signing of the offseason. Defender Rafael Czichos is joining the Fire on a three-year contract.
Czichos spent the past four seasons in Germany playing for FC Köln. He played a pivotal role in the club's promotion to the Bundesliga in 2019, making 111 appearances for the German side.
This signing makes complete sense for a Fire team in need of a left-footed center back. Francisco Calvo played that position last season but did not perform well enough to receive a new contract.
“One of our key objectives for this offseason was to acquire a talented left-footed center back and we feel confident we have achieved that with Rafael’s signing,” said Chicago Fire FC Sporting Director Georg Heitz. "We’re thrilled that he has agreed to join the Fire and look forward to welcoming him to Chicago.”
Czichos' contract with FC Köln was set to expire this summer. This allowed for the Fire to sign such an experienced player whose dream is to play in MLS.
"I decided together with my family to fulfill a dream and move to the U.S. for the next three years," Czichos said in his own statement. "Leaving Köln is not easy for me after three and a half emotional and successful years. I'm very proud and thankful for this time."
The Fire used a reported $500,000 of TAM money to sign Czichos, who will occupy an international spot.