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Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Fire add midfielder Pardo, drop Ristic

By Charlie Corr

Pardo
Pavel Pardo has played in more than 300 matches for Club America.
The season-long Pavel Pardo rumor mill finally has an MLS tag tied to the luggage. The destination: the Chicago Fire.

The Fire announced Tuesday that they are bringing in the Mexican international on his 35th birthday, coincidentally. In the process of freeing up an international spot on their roster, the Fire released midfielder Bratislav Ristic.

Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas had publicly dismissed this possibility of Pardo's signing about a month ago, but apparently the big picture changed dramatically from the team's perspective over the past several weeks.

"Pavel's international credentials and track record as a professional were defining factors in us bringing Pavel to the Fire," Klopas said in a statement. "He will provide additional depth in the midfield as we push for a playoff spot in the second half of the MLS season."

The Fire initially met with Pardo about three months ago, according to a source. Pardo's representation pursued an MLS destination, but according to the source, his financial terms were far too high for any club within the league. The Fire have not disclosed Pardo's financial terms.

Pardo appeared in more than 300 matches for Club America. In between his two stints with Club America, Pardo played for VfB Stuttgart in southern Germany. The Guadalajara native also had a Mexican national team career that spanned 1996 to 2009, and he currently is the second-most capped player in team history with 148 appearances.

If Pardo can make an impact right away, the Fire will need to shuffle their starting crew a bit. The focus will be on Fire captain and defensive midfielder Logan Pause, who could move to right back or even play a more limited role altogether. If Pause does move to right back, rookie Jalil Anibaba's playing time will take a big hit.

With Pardo's arrival, the Fire part ways with Ristic, who initially had an active presence in Chicago during the latter portion of the 2010 season.

Ristic was on trial for a couple of months last year before finally signing in mid-September. His versatility led to some regular playing time between defense and midfield. But this season, Ristic saw limited action, recording five starts and 413 minutes in nine regular-season matches.

Ristic was the Fire's captain for their June 28 victory over the USL Pro's Rochester Rhinos in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play. After that match, Ristic technically logged only three minutes of time in MLS action in July. Ristic was an 88th-minute sub for Pause against Portland, and he was a second-half stoppage time sub for Patrick Nyarko against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Ristic's final Fire moment was replacing Dominic Oduro in the 72nd minute of Chicago's 3-1 loss to the Premier League's Manchester United on Saturday.