In 2017, Matt Polster was one of the keys to the Chicago Fire’s resurgence. The following season, injuries limited him to three appearances and one start. Now, he is on his way to Rangers in Scotland.
The right back had been on trial with Rangers earlier in January and finalize the move Wednesday after getting his work permit approved. Polster signed a two-and-a-half year contract. His contract with the Fire expired at the end of the 2018 season.
— Matthew Ryan Polster (@MattPolster) January 30, 2019
Polster is a Liverpool supporter and considered Rangers manager Steven Gerrard his childhood idol.
Polster began his career with the Fire as a defensive midfielder in 2015, but also played right back when he was with the U.S. Olympic qualifying team in 2016. In 2017, Polster moved to right back full time and had a breakout season.
He earned a national team call-up before the 2018 season started. Polster started the Fire’s season opener, but suffered a knee sprain in training. Following a setback during his rehab process, he didn’t return until Oct. 21. Polster described the recovery process as “miserable.”
His departure comes during the same offseason the Fire have lost starting left back Brandon Vincent to unexpected retirement and have been unable to sign coveted homegrown prospect and Hermann Trophy winner Andrew Gutman. Gutman, a left back, was on trial at Rangers the same time as Polster, but instead appears primed to sign with rival Celtic.
After the MLS SuperDraft in Chicago, Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said Gutman informed him he had signed with Celtic. However, Gutman’s move appears to have hit a snag, possibly related to getting a work permit.
With Vincent and Polster gone and Gutman’s future uncertain, the Fire have to find new starting outside backs. In the Fire’s first preseason match Wednesday in Spain, Raheem Edwards and Diego Campos started at those spots. Edwards is traditionally a winger, but did get occasional minutes at the back in 2018 with the Fire. The same goes for Campos.
Nico Hasler and Jorge Corrales played at the outside back spots in the second half. The Fire tied Atletico Madrid B 1-1.