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Chicago Fire Looking to 2007

By Todd McClamroch in News on Dec 6, 2006 5:05PM

12_06_06_nate_jaqua.jpgThe Chicago Fire can start thinking about 2007, now that their first match is scheduled. The Fire will host the New England Revolution on April 7 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview to kick off the 2007 campaign. The Revolution and the Fire have developed a solid, bitter rivalry over the years highlighted by the Revs ending the Fire's 2006 season in New England in penalty kicks. Four of the five times the Fire have met the Revs in the playoffs, they have been knocked out by them.

During the offseason the Fire will be looking for a few key players to bolster their team. Dave Sarachan feels the Fire needs only a few players to take the team to the next level: "We have a lot of pieces in place, but because we fell short, we still would say we're one or two players away from maybe putting us over the top."

The Fire will surely be looking for some additional scoring power during the offseason after losing forward Nate Jaqua to Toronto FC in the MLS expansion draft. The Fire was limited to protecting just 11 players prior to the expansion draft. Nate Jaqua will be missed; he continued to improve with each season and scored a personal record 8 goals in 2006. Over his four-year career, which started here in Chicago, he scored 21 goals and 11 assists in 92 games.

The MLS recently approved the Designated Player Rule, informally referred to as "The Beckham Rule." This allows teams to seek out a star player whose entire salary would not go against the team's salary cap. The first $400,000 of the player’s salary will count against the team's $1.9 million salary cap. The rest will be financed by the individual team owner.

This rule allows Major League Soccer teams more freedom in courting world-renowned soccer players like David Beckham or Luis Figo. The Red Card is reporting that Fire GM John Guppy has a list of 75 players that the Fire are currently reviewing with a focus on Mexican and Polish players that will help bolster ticket sales while cranking up the energy of the team.

Chicagoist hopes the Fire will take advantage of this rule and bring an international star to the Fire. Who would you like them to get?