From the start of the season, outside back has been a weakness for the Chicago Fire. The team made a move Friday to help improve upon that weakness.
The Fire traded a total of $400,000 in allocation money over the next two seasons to Minnesota United for Costa Rican left back Francisco Calvo.
Calvo, 26, obtained a green card in 2018, so he won’t require an international spot on the roster. That’s a big plus for the Fire, which are up against the limit.
The Fire are sending $100,000 in General Allocation Money and $50,000 in Targeted Allocation Money this season and another $100,000 in GAM and $150,000 in TAM next season to Minnesota. Calvo is under contract through 2020 with club options for 2021 and 2022.
“He is a versatile defender with international experience in the prime of his career,” Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said of Calvo in a statement. “He is familiar with MLS and has demonstrated a competitive mentality that should fit well with our group.”
After losing Brandon Vincent to retirement and failing to acquire academy product Andrew Gutman in the offseason, the Fire were thin at left back entering the season. Jorge Corrales started the season at the spot, but endured struggles and then an injury. He returned April 24 at New York City FC and made his first start since the injury Saturday at Montreal.
In Corrales’ absence, it appeared Raheem Edwards could move from winger to play at the spot, but he also picked up an injury and hasn’t played since March 16. Nicolas Hasler played there as well, but coach Veljko Paunović admitted that he was playing Hasler out of position. Hasler has since been waived and picked up by Sporting Kansas City.
The left back carousel seemed to find some stability with rookie homegrown Jeremiah Gutjahr making five straight starts. Gutjahr is primarily a defensive midfielder, but proved competent at left back for a desperate team. However, Corrales broke Gutjahr’s starting streak in Montreal.
If nothing else, those last two paragraphs show the Fire’s lack of stability at left back. On paper, Calvo should change that. Right back is also a position of little depth on the roster. At least there, Johan Kappelhof has been able to move to right back and solidify that position, with Bastian Schweinsteiger moving back to center back next to Marcelo.
Calvo was a TAM signing for Minnesota back in December of 2016. According to MLS Players Union numbers, he made $522,600 in total compensation in 2018.
Calvo had been Minnesota’s captain, but was out of the lineup the past two matches for the Loons.