The Chicago Fire officially announced the signing of Ghanaian striker David Accam on Friday as their second Designated Player on the current roster. While rumors this past week strongly suggested the move was in the making, Fire fans were weary as we all saw how the Jermaine Jones saga ended. Luckily, Accam was not a Designated Player of a certain threshold and Chicago did not have to worry about the fate of a signing being put in a “blind draw”.
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Accam, a 24-year-old forward with loads of pace and potential, comes over after 62 appearances for Helsingborg IF of the Swedish Allsvenskan where he netted 30 goals. He also had stints in lower division football with Ostersund, Evesham United, and Ledbury Town where he joined to score 23 goals in 41 appearances (meaning he scored once every 1.78 matches). His addition to the MLS seems to have gone under the radar with Brek Shea’s return along with the release of the opening home fixtures for the 2015 season, but should it?
The Ghanaian will add a dimension to the Fire attack that fans haven’t seen in recent years. This is a player that was on the fringe of making the Ghanaian National Team for the World Cup in 2014; one that many American soccer fans know is a heavily talented bunch, especially in attack. Not only is Accam blessed with well above average speed, but the quality in finishing is there as shown by his goal scoring record; it’s this quality that separated the playoff teams from ones such as the Fire last season.
Frank Yallop’s first season as Chicago’s manager saw the club set the record for most draws in a season (18), breaking their own record of 16 set and shared with the New York Red Bulls in 2011. It was extremely frustrating for supporters who saw tapings of NBC’s drama “Chicago Fire” gain more coverage on the local news than the club itself. The Kings of the Cup name designated for the Fire’s 4 US Open Cup triumphs slowly and jokingly turned into Kings of the Draw for a fan base becoming increasingly exasperated by ownership and lack of ambition.
Yallop and technical director Brian Bliss are looking to eliminate that bad taste and have not wasted time in doing so. The quality depth signings of local products Eric Gehrig and Michael Stephens, along with speedy left back Joevin Jones, supplemented the first DP pick up of Nigerian striker Kennedy Igboananike (now known as Iggy in Chicago) from Swedish Allsvenskan side AIK.
While many Fire fans bemoan the lack of a “big name” signing or a “Keane money” acquisition, it is important to realize that the 2014 Chicago Fire had many holes that cannot possibly be filled by any one player. Cubo Torres for $7.5 million? Sure, he’ll put butts in the seats and is extremely talented but will he singlehandedly turn this team around? No. If he couldn’t make Chivas USA survive by himself, he isn’t the answer to all the Fire’s problems. With all that money invested in one player, how would the Fire be able to patch up the Titanic sized holes in their midfield and defense?
LA Galaxy titles aside, Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake proved that you can win in this league with sound, economical moves to round the team out in all positions than make flashy big money signings that didn’t work out for the likes of New York or Toronto FC. Sure, there have been busts with recent Fire acquisitions such as Sherjill MacDonald, Federico Puppo, and Juan Luis Anongono, but none of those players had quite the goal scoring record in a comparable league to the MLS to go with the potential of the designated players the Fire have brought in the past 10 days.
The Fire attack has the potential to be a defense’s nightmare with Accam and Igboananike as well as rookie sensation Harrison Shipp and a hopeful return to form of the 2013 MLS MVP Mike Magee, who is due to return in May. This team won’t become an MLS title contender overnight, but these moves along with an imminent improvement coming to the back line will inject the Fire supporters, specifically Section 8, with pride and something look forward to. Yallop has stated that Chicago plans to fill all three Designated Player slots.
Stay tuned to see what the Fire do next! What do you think of the slew of early off-season activity from the Chicago Fire?