The Chicago Fire’s preseason is now just one week away, but the club’s offseason moves are far from over. After a few weeks of relative silence, the rumor mill is once again churning, and business is happening behind the scenes to finish constructing the roster ahead of the new season. Swiss-Jamaican right back Allan Arigoni is set to arrive this week on a season-long loan from Lugano, but that isn’t the only move to expect in the near future; today’s roundup will take a look at a pair of potential moves, as well as one that didn’t quite happen.
Salquist set to join in permanent move
Earlier this winter, center back Carlos Terán made public his desire to leave the Fire this offseason, so signing a starting-quality center back was always going to be a must this January. Sources confirmed to MIR97 Media that Silkeborg’s Tobias Salquist will be that man, with his arrival set to be finalized in the coming days. The signing was first reported by the Athletic’s Tom Bogert on Monday.
Salquist, a 28-year-old Danish defender, brings a wealth of experience in some of Europe’s mid-tier leagues. He has emerged as a first team regular and fan favorite at Silkeborg in the Danish top flight club for the last three years, with prior experience in Iceland, Belgium, and Norway. Salquist stands at six-foot-three and can play on either side of the center back pairing, meaning he can be both a starting partner for Rafa Czichos and someone who can take his place on the left side if need be.
As Terán is angling to leave the club, it is likely that the Fire’s central defensive core this season will contain Salquist, Czichos, Mauricio Pineda, and Wyatt Omsberg. Second round SuperDraft pick Olu Oyegunle could represent more depth at the position should he sign a deal with the Fire, though he has been eyeing a European move since the fall.
Fire lead the charge for Acosta in free agency
Boasting an MLS Cup and 58 USMNT caps, Kellyn Acosta is one of MLS free agency’s biggest prizes this offseason. The 28-year-old holding midfielder is a two time league All-Star and represented the U.S. at the World Cup in Qatar. In need of reinforcements in the center of the field, the Chicago Fire are making a strong push to acquire Acosta, and are currently considered to be the frontrunner within MLS.
The addition of Acosta, should it materialize, would be a statement signing in the league. It’s been some time since the Fire landed a top free agent on the domestic market, and the longtime U.S. international is just that. Acosta would be a player who would fit like a glove in the Fire’s system, as he could be deployed as either a six or an eight, perfect for the double pivot in the 4-2-3-1.
Due to roster rules, Acosta cannot be signed as a DP, and the Fire are a team that has the cap flexibility to bring him in. Nonetheless, he has other suitors domestically; with preseason fast approaching, a decision is expected in the coming days.
Mihailovic joins the Rapids
Early this fall, MIR97 Media reported that former Fire Academy product Djordje Mihailovic had been hoping to return to his boyhood club ahead of the 2024 season. The U.S. international had struggled to break into the first team plans of Pascal Jansen at AZ Alkmaar, and personal matters stateside motivated a return to MLS. Though preliminary talks were held with the Fire in September, a move never materialized, and earlier this week, he was unveiled as a new Colorado Rapids player.
Though there was interest from both the player and club in bringing Mihailovic back to the Windy City, AZ, in addition to MLS accounting, made it difficult. Because of AZ’s transfer valuation, around $3 million, the 25-year-old would need to be a Designated Player under MLS rules. The Fire only have one open DP slot currently, and since that is set to be filled by a center forward, it could not afford to use it on Mihailovic. Attacking midfield stars Xherdan Shaqiri and Brian Gutiérrez also play a similar position to Mihailovic, so his return would pose yet another selection headache whilst leaving other positions of need unfilled.
The Fire are not the only team who were interested in Mihailovic, with Shield winners FC Cincinnati among a glut of clubs who reached out. However, similarly to the Fire, Cincy didn’t have a DP tag to give him, so they too could not bring him in (despite owning his discovery rights and profiting $75,000 from their sale to the Rapids). Colorado are in the midst of a rebuild that has also seen them acquire ex-USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen from Man City, and led by Fire legend Chris Armas, should be a contender in the Western Conference soon.