With a little under two months until the closure of the MLS Primary Transfer Window on April 24th, the Fire have already made six new signings.
Even after securing the signature of veteran striker Kei Kamara, the Fire have continued their hunt to replace the 20 million dollar man, Jhon Durán. The Fire have finalized a $2.5 million transfer for 2004-born Greek striker Georgios Koustias from PAOK; The 19-year-old had been loaned out to fellow Greek Super League club Volos NPS. At Volos this season, Koustias has made 20 appearances in Greece’s top flight and has contributed to 16 percent of his team’s league goals. Koustias is certainly a very different profile of nine when comparing him to the Fire’s current opinions in that position. The Greek youth international gives the Fire a more technically sound center forward who likes to drive at players with the ball at his feet. Bringing in a non-target man is exactly the diversity that Ezra Hendrickson needed in this position.
As mentioned earlier, also competing for time in this lone central striker role is the 38-year-old Kei Kamara. With the third most goals in MLS history, Kamara will certainly be a leader from the front this season. Although it is predicted that Kacper Przybyłko will get the nod in matchday one against New York, Kamara will certainly get his opportunities this season. Especially after Przybyłko failed to establish himself as the Fire’s best number nine last season, it seems to be a common consensus that the center forward role is still very much up for grabs. Fire fans will be hoping that Kamara, despite his age, can produce numbers like he did last season (9 goals, 7 assists, 1.04 points per 90) for Chicago in 2023.
At the end of January, the Fire added to their depth in attacking areas of the pitch with the signing of Maren Haile-Selassie. The 23-year-old Swiss winger was acquired from the Fire’s sister club, FC Lugano, on a one-year loan with a buy option. Primarily playing off of the left-hand side in attack, Haile-Selassie can also play through the middle as a number ten. When looking at the Fire’s arsenal of attacking options, Haile-Selassie will most likely fit in as an impact sub for wide players such as Chris Mueller and Jairo Torres. However, as noted in our midfield preview, Haile-Selassie was able to put up impressive numbers in somewhat limited minutes with FC Lugano. Having played less than 900 minutes this season, the Swiss man was able to score three goals and would go on to assist three more. The Fire will certainly be hoping that Haile-Selassie will be able to make the most out of his minutes this season in the MLS.
Following the departure of starting right-back Boris Sekulić, the Fire acted quickly to fill the position with two quality players. The first and potentially the most notable signing of the Fire’s transfer window thus far was that of Arnaud Souquet from Ligue 1 club Montpellier HSC. He will be the first-choice right-back this season and will be expected to use his experience of playing in a top-five league to lead from the back. Competing for time with Souquet is fellow January signing Jonathan Dean. The former Birmingham Legion (USL Championship) full-back started every match of the 2022 season and is able to play anywhere on the right-hand side. Dean’s most notable aspect of his game is his attacking production from the full-back position. Both of his goals and all six of his assists came from playing right-back in the USL last season. With Souquet being a more conventional fullback who specializes in one-on-one defending and making tackles, Dean provides an interesting option as an attacking fullback for the Fire.
Moving onto the goalkeeper position, the Fire signed Jefferey Gal from Degerfors IF. Coming from the highest division of Swedish soccer, the 29-year-old Gal will serve as a mentor to the teenaged Chris Brady. Although Chris Brady is expected to start, his lack of MLS experience, in addition to his young age, leaves reason to believe that the veterans, in the form of Gal and Spencer Richey, still have a chance at taking the starting spot. Gal could also serve as an alternative to Spencer Richey if Chris Brady is released for the U-20 World Cup in the Spring.
With the MLS season just days away now, only time will tell if these new signings will live up to their expectations.