You could say that a Chicago Fire-Jon Busch reunion has been a while in the making.
Busch was cut by the Fire abruptly in 2010 in favor of then-rookie Sean Johnson as well as Andrew Dykstra, and moved to San Jose where he was the No. 1 keeper under Frank Yallop. Yep, the Frank Yallop who’s currently Chicago’s skipper. Considering Chicago is his former town, and Yallop is his former coach, this reported move should not be a surprise to anyone.
Busch is currently training with the Fire and it is unknown at this time if or when the Fire will over him a contract. Yet, it makes sense if they do attempt to sign him.
After Zach Thornton and Sean Johnson, Busch is perhaps Chicago’s most beloved goalkeeper. His excellent rapport with Section 8 Chicago made him a fan favorite, even well after he left. During Busch’s first game at Toyota Park while a member of San Jose, he received a standing ovation from the Fire Faithful, and received a signed picture from the team as well; A picture that Busch & Family still have on the wall of their San Jose home, Busch told the media.
Despite the sentimental value that Busch holds in the hearts of many Chicagoans, his move makes sense from a tactical standpoint as well. The obvious motive of getting Busch is the same motive every coach has when getting a backup goalie: Find someone who could fill the starter’s shoes if he goes down.
Busch is an obvious step up from career backup Alec Kann and NASL vet Kyle Reynish, who was traded to the New York Red Bulls to make room on the roster for a new keeper like Busch. With a reliable backup with extensive experience playing as a starter in MLS, Busch’s signing also means Johnson can take some days off, namely in U.S. Open Cup play. There is a confidence in Busch that Chicago did not have in Reynish, who was backup to Johnson for every game last year (across all competitions) except one at the end of the season.
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This Summer’s Gold Cup means that there is a good possibility Sean misses up to a month on international duty, should he receive a call- up. That’s a month in the heart of the season where the Fire will be in the middle of a playoff race (hopefully). It’s crucial that they don’t miss a beat. When Sean missed a month during Gold Cup 2013, Chicago was lucky enough to toss the reins (or gloves) to Serie A veteran Paolo Tornaghi. Since then, Tornaghi has signed with Vancouver and is out of the question. It may have taken a year, but Busch fills the vacuum left at the backup goalie position left by Tornaghi.
There also comes the question of will Sean Johnson leave for Europe mid-season? He’s certainly good enough, but it’s up in the air if he actually will. If he does, Busch will be a more-than-able temporary replacement. At 38, Busch is definitely not a permanent fix, but will be able to hold his own while Chicago looks for younger goalkeeper talent.
Busch’s potential arrival is yet another bit of good news for a team that has received a lot of good news recently. On Monday, the Fire and Comcast SportsNet Chicago agreed to terms for a three-year television deal. On Sunday, Shaun Maloney became the third and final DP that Chicago signed.
A year ago today, Chicago had zero DPs. Chicago’s added depth at many positions via transfers, its academy and the draft. The acquisition of Busch adds depth at the only position that still needed it: goalkeeper.
Busch’s arrival in Chicago is obviously overshadowed by Maloney’s signing. But on a team where playing without Sean Johnson for anywhere from a month to half a season is entirely possible, Busch’s arrival could be Chicago’s most important move come Summer.