Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Fire add Oduro, Cuesta, trade Carr
By Charlie Corr
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire added some new pieces to the puzzle on Wednesday with the acquisition of forward Dominic Oduro and Colombian defender Yamith Cuesta.
The Fire sent a 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft selection to Chivas USA for Cuesta's rights. And Chicago sent forward Calen Carr, a 2006 draft pick who spent his first five MLS seasons with the Fire, to the Houston Dynamo for the 25-year-old Oduro. Carr missed last weekend's 1-1 draw against FC Dallas because of a concussion.
Oduro, a native of Accra, Ghana, tallied five goals last year for the Dynamo. He is expected to join the Fire for Thursday's training session.
"His most important quality is speed," Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said of Oduro on Wednesday following training. "He's very fast. This is a quality that makes the difference sometimes in the game. He's coming to strengthen our front line of attackers."
"It depends on how Carlos wants to play him, but I think he can play out wide because he's got a lot of pace, and he can also play up top," Fire technical director Frank Klopas said. "It just depends. It gives you some different options."
The Fire focused heavily on securing a strong defensive back line during the offseason, and they bring in another young player, 21-year-old Cuesta, who already has MLS experience and debuted for Colombian First Division side Santa Fe in 2007. Cuesta also played for the Colombian U-20 national team in 2009, netting a goal in three games.
"Cuesta really, really surprised me because he's a young player, but with a strong personality," De los Cobos said. "I like this guy because even if he's very young, he showed how he's maturing in this moment. He's very strong, he's good with the ball, and I'm happy with Cuesta because I'm sure that he can help us during the season. We are trying to create a very solid block on defense, and I'm sure he will be part of this block."
"He's a young player that has good feet for a big guy," Klopas said. "He's fast, and technically he's very good. He's someone that our coaching staff knew very well, and we knew him because he was in the league. ... He's another guy who provides a lot of depth for us in the back line -- a guy that's young, that you can keep him around for a while."
With Cuesto being either a center back or right back, it creates a logjam of players on that side of the pitch. Rookie Jalil Anibaba started at right back and had a successful preseason and opening match against Dallas, and Josip Mikulic plays at center back on the three-man back line and right-center on a four-man line.
The left side of the defense is a different story. Veteran Cory Gibbs has been on the outside in the three-back formation, and Gonzalo Segares drops back from the midfield in a four-back setup. But beyond that, the Fire are thin. Bratislav Ristic has played at left back, but his health is in question heading into Saturday's home opener against Sporting Kansas City because of a quad injury following the Dallas match. Midfielder Mike Banner, who also has dropped to left back on occasion, missed last Saturday's opener with Achilles tendinitis.
"He's on the treadmill a little bit, so it's been a good sign," Klopas said of Banner's progress. "It's just a tough [injury] because it's an area that you just don't know. It's just day by day with him getting better. We're all hoping for the best, but I couldn't tell you if he's starting to train next week. I couldn't say that."
The Fire (0-0-1) host K.C. (1-0-0) on Saturday at Toyota Park, and it is early to determine if there are other specific areas that the Fire technical staff wants to address further. The potential addition of a forward continues to be a major talking point.
"We've been talking about that. The one thing we're going back and forth is forward," Klopas said. "We saw Diego [Chaves], and he's going to be a very good player in this league. We have a lot of options now on top. Do we bring in another guy up top, or do we look to see if there's a need somewhere else? We do have some options everywhere. We just have to see what the best option for the team is."