The Chicago Fire have confirmed that Guillermo Franco has signed a deal with the team. Although he did not participate in the Sept. 15 game with the Montreal Impact, the 35-year-old forward has already joined the Fire and will be available for future games. The MLS roster freeze date has passed for 2012, so Chicago will not be adding anyone else.
Franco was signed on a free transfer after a trial with the Chicago Fire. Guillermo Franco previously played with Pachuca and had zero goals in 12 appearances with the team. He also has experience with San Lorenzo, Monterrey, Villarreal, West Ham United and Vélez Sársfield. The forward has participated in several World Cups and Mexico's national team.
Fans have their reservations about Franco's arrival because his age and lack of goals with Pachuca are not encouraging signs. Nevertheless, he does add depth to the team and is not an expensive addition. The Chicago Fire had limited options prior to the MLS roster freeze, so he may have been the best solution.
It seems clear that Guillermo Franco does not have any expectations of being an immediate part of the starting lineup. At least this will eliminate a possible repetition of the problems fans witnessed with former midfielder Rafael Robayo who complained about not receiving enough time on the field. Franco seems mature enough to understand the position he is currently in with the team.
The combination of his age and uncertain fitness level creates a strong possibility that he will be a bench player. Guillermo Franco creates another striker option for the Chicago Fire and could be useful if someone is not available because the threat of injury is always present. For example, both Daniel Paladini and Pavel Pardo, who were absent from the Sept. 15 game, are recovering from recent injuries.
As the MLS playoffs get closer, getting another striker creates a small safety net for the Chicago Fire. The team is still in second place in the Eastern Conference and is only one point behind Sporting Kansas City. The next game is scheduled for Sept. 22 against the Columbus Crew.
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Lana follows MLS, UEFA and FIFA. She has been a faithful fan of the Chicago Fire since 1998. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.