Not too long ago, the Chicago Fire were getting massive results from Guatemalan international Marco Pappa. Now, the club is looking to get similar results from another Marco. That would be defender Marco Franco from UC Irvine. But in a city like Chicago, everything must be earned, and manager Frank Yallop knows that.
“Once we did the trade for [Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni] with Seattle, then our focus changed a little bit to outside back to sort of strengthen the area,” Yallop told MLSSoccer.com’s Anthony Zilis. “One of the first things I thought, I liked his character … He said he wants to learn, he said he wants to get better, he didn’t mention Europe, which when you interview some of these kids, it’s all about wanting to go to Europe.
“We’re bringing in a some guys in preseason to have a look. We have enough quality coming in off of trials and people we’re bringing into the squad that we’re going to fill that. We’ve only got a couple of spots to fill, that I think come March 9, we’ll be ready to go.”
Franco is expected to contend with Lovel Palmer and Steven Kinney for the right back position. However, Palmer can play in the midfield if needed and Kinney has been riddled with injuries throughout his career. However, Yallop’s prognosis of Kinney is a bit different this time.
“Steven Kinney is a right full back and he’s coming into camp fully healthy and ready to go,” said Yallop to Chicago-Fire.com’s Jeff Crandall. “You’ve seen him enough to know he’s a good player but obviously has had his injury problems. We’ll see if that’s an issue in pre-season. If it is then we’ll address it and make sure we have backup plans. If it isn’t we’ve got a good player that’s ready to go and is excited to come back.”
In the meantime, a number of trialists will be brought in during the preseason run to hopefully bolster the lineup this season.
“It’s exciting. It’s a new coaching staff, it’s just a fresh start, I want to go in and show what I have and compete for that spot, and I think I can,” Franco said. “I have the ability to start. I just want to be able to jell with the team and go with their flow and to be able to get into the attack and create opportunities and create goals. I think I fit in well to the Chicago Fire’s style of play.”
As for the new acqusitions, Yallop feels that Hurtado and Ianni are a breath of fresh air. Chicago traded Jalil Anibaba to the Seattle Sounders to acquire the two defenders.
“[Coming in] right away I recognized that we were light on the defensive side of things,” Yallop said. “Any chance I had to talk to clubs was about defenders and people with experience, especially in MLS. It’s always nice to think about getting players from the outside but I think getting guys that have been very successful in our league always feels better for me.
“I look at Hurtado as being one of those guys with his experience, know-how and how he plays the game is really going to help us. With Patrick he’s been in the league for some time with Houston and now Seattle, he plays a little bit differently to Jhon, but having both of them on our books right away helps.”
The Fire open up their preseason on Feb. 2 against Florida Gulf Coast University at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla.