In the coming weeks, the Chicago Fire should be announcing an abundance of player options that they are picking up heading into 2012. The Fire have yet to officially state the return of midfielder Pavel Pardo or comment on other players' contract status, but in all likelihood a large portion of the 2011 squad should be on board next season.
"We're still going through that and evaluating the whole season," Fire head coach Frank Klopas said Tuesday. "We've worked very hard to bring a lot of players and feel good with the base that we've built."
So pending the formality of the team announcing the return of much of its roster, Klopas is focused on an overseas trip to find potential talent to fill in some gaps and build off the momentum that Chicago had in the latter half of the previous season.
"We're way ahead of where we were last year as an organization," Klopas said. "We've worked hard to build relationships and find the kinds of players who fit in here financially and with the characteristics of this league."
Klopas departs on a two-week scouting trek starting this Saturday. Klopas said that he's bound for Switzerland, Germany and Spain, where he will meet with Atletico Madrid.
"I'm going to spend some time with them and look for some options," Klopas said. "This trip, I'm looking at a forward and also some midfield players."
As far as the attacking side, Klopas said he is looking for a versatile and mobile option that would complement Dominic Oduro's speed up top.
"We're looking at someone who can play with depth and into space," Klopas said. "We don't want someone that's going to be in the box only. We want some mobility -- someone who is good with his feet."
Back in September, the Fire announced a strategic partnership with Atletico Madrid, Sport Club Internacional and Club America. The Fire have had close ties with Club America already, but now Chicago hopes to see the scope of player options expand a bit with this partnership.
"With America we've had an ongoing relationship that's been a good one," Klopas said. "It was a situation where we followed Pavel [Pardo] when he was there. Now we have opportunities to do more things. The Madrid partnership is one that we started and look to continue to grow. I'll spend some time there with their staff, watch the first team and some of their younger players and evaluate them. It's important to spent time with the people and it's also important for them to better understand our league."
Husidic, backup GKs' options not picked up: The Fire announced Tuesday that they are not picking up the options toward midfielder Baggio Husidic and backup goalkeepers Jon Conway and Alec Dufty. All three players will be available in the MLS Re-Entry Draft on Dec. 5 and 12. Husidic, who locally played for Libertyville High School and then the University of Illinois-Chicago, was coming off his third season with the Fire.
"It's never an easy decision," Klopas said. "At the end of the day you want to be in a position to win and improve the team. Last year we worked very hard to create a good base to build on, and unfortunately you have to make some tough decisions."
With the absence of their two backup goalkeepers, clearly there is a focus on filling that void to find some able bodies and experience behind regular starter Sean Johnson. With Conway and Dufty included, there are nine goalkeepers in the re-entry draft.
"There will be opportunities in the re-entry draft to look at some good goalkeepers, for sure," Klopas said. "So we're looking into that. We want to get someone who brings experience. Sean is someone who is young but is maturing over time."
Chicago has the eighth pick among the 19 teams in the re-entry draft.