Chicago Fire’s Roster: Who’s in? Who’s out? Who makes what?

This guy may or may not be standing in this room next year. Who are the others? (photo:

This guy may or may not be standing in this room next year. Who are the others? (photo:

To the best of his ability, OTF editor Scott Fenwick opens up his spreadsheet to show you Chicago Fire’s roster and budget numbers, both then and now…

Frank Yallop’s made some impactful roster decisions already during his short tenure and cleared a substantial amount of salary cap space. After waiving Arévalo Rios and Paolo Tornaghi a couple of weeks ago, Chicago Fire’s new Director of Soccer and Head Coach placed nine players on the MLS Re-Entry Draft list yesterday, three more than any other club.

With the Re-Entry Draft looming later this week, let’s have a look at the Fire’s roster as it stood at the end of the 2013 regular season and how it stands now, ahead of Thursday afternoon’s conference call pick ’em.

A few items to note before we proceed:

  • Players are listed below by their 2013 guaranteed compensation, as reported by the MLS Players Union on September 15, 2013, in descending order.
  • The MLS salary cap is rumored to increase 5% in 2014 to $3,097,500.
  • In 2013, a Designated Player over the age of 23 carried a salary budget charge of $368,750.
  • Each MLS roster is comprised of 30 players. Players 1-20 are considered “on budget” and count against the salary cap. However, roster slots 19 & 20 are not required to be filled, so a team may spread its salary budget across 18 players. Players 21-30 are considered “off-budget” and do not count against the salary cap.
  • A total of 152 international slots are divided among the 19 MLS clubs. Each club begins the year with eight international slots.
  • Each MLS team is allotted two Homegrown players on its 30-man roster whose salaries may exceed the minimum, but do not count against the salary cap.
  • MLS Re-Entry Draft rules can be found here in Section II.G.
  • All figures below are estimates.
Chicago Fire Roster at the end of the 2013 Season:
Player Age Position Designation 2013 Salary Status
Rios, Arevalo 32 MF International/DP $768,000 2014 option declined/Waived
Soumare, Bakary 28 D Domestic *$350,000 Signed through 2014
Duka, Dilly 24 MF Domestic **$273,000 Signed through 2014
Nyarko, Patrick 28 MF Domestic $249,500 Signed through 2014
Rolfe, Chris 31 F/MF Domestic $248,833 2014 option declined/Re-Entry Draft
Larentowicz, Jeff 30 MF Domestic $231,000 Signed through 2014
Lindpere, Joel 32 MF Domestic $205,000 2014 option declined/Re-Entry Draft
Pause, Logan 32 MF Domestic $197,833 2014 option declined/Re-Entry Draft
Magee, Mike 29 F/MF Domestic $191,667 Signed through 2015
Segares, Gonzalo 31 D Domestic $168,333 Signed through 2014
Santos, Maicon 29 F Domestic $164,433 2014 Option declined/Re-Entry Draft
Johnson, Sean 24 GK Domestic $153,000 2014 option exercised
Anibaba, Jalil 25 D Domestic $131,245 2014 option exercised
Anangonó, Juan Luis 24 F International/DP ***$120,000 Signed through mid-2015
Alex 25 MF International $119,950 2014 option exercised
Thompson, Wells 30 MF Domestic $113,125 Out of contract/Re-Entry Draft
Paladini, Daniel 29 MF Domestic $91,103 2014 option declined/Re-Entry Draft/Pulled out of Re-Entry Draft
Gulley, Kellen 19 F Domestic/ Homegrown $79,000 2014 option declined
Berry, Austin 25 D Domestic $78,425 2014 option exercised
Pineda, Victor 20 MF Domestic/ Homegrown $53,242 2014 option exercised
Atouba, Yazid 21 MF International $51,500 Signed through 2014
Bone, Corben 25 MF Domestic $49,000 2014 option declined/Re-Entry Draft
Videira, Michael 28 MF/D Domestic $47,125 2014 option declined/Re-Entry Draft
Francis, Shaun 27 D International $46,500 2014 option declined/Re-Entry Draft
Amarikwa, Quincy 26 F Domestic $46,500 2014 option exercised
Jumper, Hunter 25 D Domestic $46,500 2014 option exercised
Kinney, Steven 26 D Domestic $46,500 2014 option exercised
Tornaghi, Paolo 25 GK Domestic $46,500 2014 option declined/Waived
King, Brendan 24 MF Domestic $35,125 2014 option exercised
Kann, Alec 23 GK Domestic $35,125 2014 option exercised

* Philadelphia Union will pay $150k of Soumare’s guaranteed compensation in 2014.

** Duka’s salary number is high due to the Generation Adidas contract he signed in 2010. It is unknown whether Columbus Crew still pays some of his guaranteed compensation.

*** Anangonó’s seven-figure transfer fee, amortized, makes him a Designated Player.

As of December 9th, only 18 players remain on Chicago Fire’s roster, but a few stand to return with renegotiated deals at lower salaries. Top candidates to come back to the club are Logan Pause, Chris Rolfe, Kellen Gulley, and perhaps Daniel Paladini or Corben Bone.

“We are actively speaking with several declined and out of contract players about new deals,” said Frank Yallop. “We hope to reach agreement with some of them over the next two weeks and will announce as those deals are reached.”

That said, players will only be available to return to the Fire if they are not selected in the Re-Entry Draft. Players can opt out of being included in the Draft if they wish to negotiate new terms at a lower salary.

Another name to add to the list of possibilities in 2014 is Notre Dame’s Harry Shipp. After a bit of uncertainty, MLS recently determined the Fire may claim the Lake Forest, Illinois, native as a Homegrown player, which would allow the club to exercise its right of first refusal, thus excluding Shipp from the 2014 MLS SuperDraft in January.

A top prospect, Shipp notched 12 goals and 8 assists at forward for the Irish in 2013, earned ACC Offensive Player of the Year honors, and was named a semifinalist for the NCAA’s player of the year award. Expect this young man to be on the Fire’s 30-man roster next season.

Now, before we proceed and have a look at the roster as it stands ahead of the Re-Entry Draft, allow me to explain the last column in this next chart, “2014 Estimated Salary”. The point of this next table is to attempt to estimate how much cap room Frank Yallop and new technical director Brian Bliss have to work with.

Since there’s no way to know what the 18 contracted players’ 2014 guaranteed compensation is until the MLS Players Union releases its next salary survey sometime during the middle of next season, I thought it fair to simply add a 5% premium, commensurate with the rumored 5% increase in the 2014 salary cap.

Chicago Fire Roster as of December 9, 2013: 
Player Age Position Designation 2013 Salary 2014 Estimated
Johnson, Sean 24 GK Domestic $153,000  
Kann, Alec 23 GK Domestic $35,125  
        = $188,125 +5% = $197,531
Soumare, Bakary 28 CB Domestic $350,000  
Segares, Gonzalo 31 LB Domestic $168,333  
Anibaba, Jalil 25 RB/CB Domestic $131,245  
Berry, Austin 25 CB Domestic $78,425  
Jumper, Hunter 25 LB/CB Domestic $46,500  
Kinney, Steven 26 RB/CB Domestic $46,500  
        = $821,003  
        * – $150,000  
        = $671,003 +5% = $704,553
Duka, Dilly 24 Wing Domestic $273,000  
Nyarko, Patrick 28 Wing Domestic $249,500  
Larentowicz, Jeff 30 CM Domestic $231,000  
Alex 25 CM International $119,950  
Pineda, Victor 20 Wing Domestic/ Homegrown $53,242  
Atouba, Yazid 21 Wing International $51,500  
King, Brendan 24 Wing Domestic $35,125  
        = $1,013,317 +5% = $1,063,983
Magee, Mike 29   Domestic $191,667  
Anangonó, Juan Luis 24   International/DP $120,000  
Amarikwa, Quincy 26   Domestic $46,500  
        = $358,167  
        **+ $248,750  
        = $606,917 +5% = $637,263
*Philadelphia Union picks up $150k of Soumare’s guaranteed compensation
**Budget charge for Anangonó’s transfer fee, amortized
Players       2013 Total
Budget Charge
2014 Total
Budget Charge
18       $2,479,362 $2,603,330
Roster Slots
        2014 Estimated
Cap Room
12         $494,170
  • Designated Players = 1
  • Homegrown Players = 1
  • International Roster Slots Filled = 3

At this point you may be asking yourself, “How in God’s name will Chicago fill out its roster with a mere $494,170?!”

Though if you’re not, this means you’re familiar with the Byzantine world of MLS roster rules and the shadowy sacks of MLS Allocation Money. Not only do you know the salary cap only affects your “on budget” players (roster spots 1-20), but you also know, in this case, there’s more than $494,170 left to spend. 

You see, before the Designated Player or “Beckham” rule existed, to attract top players, the league started allocating cash to its franchisees so they could, in turn, pay those players market value salaries without violating the salary cap. As the years passed, the league continued to dole out this (tradeable) “funny money” as it pleased, to whom it pleased, ad infinitum. 

And it still does, behind closed doors.

Remember folks, as the Soccer Don himself said the other day, they just make it up as they go.

I digress.

So at the end of the day, it might be fair to say I’ve engaged in a futile exercise here. I can guestimate all I want, but I’ll never truly know how much cap room and/or Allocation Money the Fire (or any other club for that matter) has at any given time. 

Though what I do know is this: Tough decisions must be made under a salary cap regime. The margins are so very thin.

Anyway, looking at who’s left on Chicago’s roster, a few things become readily apparent:

  • Perhaps six of the 18 remaining players (Kann, Jumper, Kinney, Pineda, King, Amarikwa) could be considered “off budget” in 2014, thus increasing the Fire’s cap room to an estimated $757,162. Yallop and Bliss would then move to fill six to eight “on budget” roster spots with this amount, plus any available Allocation Money.
  • The Fire needs a veteran reserve goalkeeper.
  • The Fire needs some central midfielders, with an emphasis on the play-making kind. Just make Alex a DM. It suits him.
  • The Fire needs a true right back, a veteran. Let Anibaba operate as a utility man to spell Soumare, Berry, and the guy who’ll replace him in the starting lineup.

Is it possible some of the Fire’s needs could be met via this week’s Re-Entry Draft? Well, have a look at the list of available players and you be the judge. But before you get too excited about Mauro Rosales or Sean Franklin, remember: Chicago picks eighth.

Also, do temper your expectations by having a look at the players’ last reported salary figures. Often, there are some expensive lemons in that first round basket. Given the salary cap, perhaps it’s better to wait until the second round, gain the upper hand, and negotiate a player’s salary down to a more palpable figure.

Remember Maicon Santos?

Maicon Santos? 


Anyone? Anyone?


Scott Fenwick founded On The Fire in 2012 and is its Executive Editor. Scott co-hosts the On The Fire Soccer Radio Podcast, contributes to the Guardian’s (UK) MLS fan previewsThe Cup.usPickles Magazineand is America’s #1 Rapid supporter.

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