We are almost two months into the season, but the Chicago Fire are still making changes. They just completed a loan move for Senegalese midfielder Khaly Thiam and they are also eyeing up a potential move for Dutch striker Michael De Leeuw (according to MLSsoccer.com).
The loan move has an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the year.
As a defensive midfielder, Thiam will be up against the Fire’s current defensive midfielder, Matt Polster. When asked of Paunovic why Thiam would be needed with Polster in the mix, the new manager was very clear.
“[Thiam] can play in different positions in the midfield. He can play in different systems,” Paunovic said. “We’ve been using a 4-2-3-1 as our standard system and he can play either beneath, together with another midfielder, or we can also switch to 4-3-3 or 3-5-2. That quality he has of being adaptable and able to play in different systems and roles is something we value a lot.”
The loan move, as well as the speculative striker move, show tremendous initiative by the Chicago Fire. They have already shown great athletic ability and defensive solidity, but improvements are still being made. Injuries to Matt Polster and David Accam have left the Fire in need of more options and Paunovic is wasting no time in finding those options.
By adding Thiam, as Paunovic said, it gives the Fire options. They already have tremendous ability to strike on the counter with their speedy attack, having an all-around athlete like Thiam starting that attack just adds another facet.
And just because their defense is looking stout doesn’t mean there is no need for improvement.
As far as De Leeuw, while the move has not gone through, the fact that they are even pursuing another striker is also indicative of some strong initiative. With Accam and Igboananike up front, the Fire have looked deadly on the counter. But an injury to one or the other leaves the team crippled offensively, as we have seen lately.
Another striker option, such as De Leeuw, fixes that flaw and allows for the Fire to cover injuries and – again – provide for more options up front.
The Fire may be in last, but they have played less games than everyone else and Accam has been missing. With Accam back and games to play, don’t be surprised to see Paunovic’s men rise up the rankings a bit and make a splash.