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A chat with Fire technical director Brian Bliss
The Major League Soccer transfer window is approaching and the Fire have a lot of needs. They sit 2-3-6, out of playoff position in the Eastern Conference and with a roster needing a boost.
With that clear, first-year Fire technical director Brian Bliss will be in the spotlight as the team tries to improve and avoid a second straight year out of the postseason. At training Wednesday, Bliss was asked about numerous topics including DaMarcus Beasley, the summer transfer window, the salary cap, and a potential USL PRO affiliation with St. Louis.
Here are the highlights of that media session.
Are any signings imminent that we should know about?
Nothing really. You’re emotionally involved when you win and you don’t think you need to do anything, and then you lose you think you’ve got to do something. We’ve just got to make sure we’re not too high or too low, depending on the results and thinking we need to change. Obviously, we’ve got room since we moved Chris (Rolfe) earlier in the year. We’ve got a little bit of money and a roster spot available.
We’d like to (sign somebody). It’s just a matter of pinpointing what’s most needed. I think we’ll get somebody signed, it’s just a matter of when.
What is most needed?
It depends on which game you look at. We’re giving up goals, we need something in the back line. Do we need something to help Jeff (Larentowicz) in the middle of midfield with some experience? Do you go sign a guy on a long-term vision as an attacking-type guy? Do we try to make a deal within the league to shore up something else? So it’s difficult to say. Obviously, from afar you would say you’ve got to have somebody on the back line. But with the money available I’m not sure we can get somebody that’s going to make a huge impact on the back line. And to go a (Designated Player) on the back line? I’m not saying that’s not the best use of money, but…
It’s not preferred…
Yeah, exactly. Good word.
Is it possible to bring in a DP?
Financially, we can do it just because of the rules the way they are and what you need to have available cap-wise at midseason for a DP. We’ve got that room. Obviously, Andrew (Hauptman) is willing to back anything that we think is necessary, I think within reason. He’s spent money in the past, he’s not afraid to do it again. It’s just a matter of if you’ve got the right guy.
A few weeks ago a TV analyst said Hauptman has given a “blank check.” Is that true?
I wouldn’t go that far. If we had a blank check we would have had Michael Bradley or somebody else. He’s demonstrated in the past… I think he’s spent, I don’t know, $2.2 or $2.4 (million) on (Cuauhtemoc) Blanco when he was available. He’s shown a propensity to spend money on some other guys in the past. I wouldn’t say everybody is within our reach, but that opens up a big pool of players when you’re willing to spend that kind of money.
(Per the Fire, Blanco’s salary was around $2.8 million.)
Any interest in DaMarcus Beasley?
We’ve talked to his representation. Is it the biggest need in our club? No, but it fits a semi-need. It fits a fan-base need, and an identification need. … But there’s also other teams interested in him as well. He falls into that returning national-team player status, and it’s an allocation order. It’s not as easy as you think.
Need to move contracts out to bring a big contract in?
No, because we’d be at the DP status. We have enough room right now to do it at midseason. Not a full year.
Looking to move other guys out to clear even more?
We’re not actively out there shopping guys on the open market. But if somebody came to us and made a proposal that made sense, why not look at it? It’s not like we’re at the top of the table and we’re completely satisfied with what we’ve got. Any reasonable offer, we’ll listen to it.
Do you have a lot of guys on expiring contracts or options?
There’s probably eight, nine, 10 guys on options. And I think only two guys with what I would say expiring contracts, so they’re in their last year. And like I said, seven or eight guys who have options – and decent-sized numbers too. So if you’re able to work the numbers down and re-sign them or completely part ways with them, there would be some good resources in January.
Can you tell us who?
How much is satisfying fan base a consideration?
It plays a role, but it can’t be the overriding factor. If the guy makes sense and then he checks the box on the fan base and maybe a cultural base, then that’s a bonus. But we can’t be out there searching specifically on a culture and then, ‘All right, what position does he play and how good is he?’ I think we’d be going at it backwards at that point and we’ve got to look at what best fits for the price that we have.
Any update on the USL PRO affiliation?
We’re still in a handshake agreement and an agreement in principle with the guys in St. Louis. But our position and I think the league’s position is until they can iron out a league-wide agreement that replaces the existing one at the end of the year, everything’s kind of on hold. But I think we have a good understanding with the St. Louis guys that once that ban for announcing anything is lifted we’ll be in a good position to announce something.