Offseason heating up for Fire as draft's second phase nears

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Offseason heating up for Fire as draft's second phase nears

The Fire was the only club to make a selection in last weeks first stage of Major League Soccers re-entry draft. More of the circuits 19 teams are sure to participate in Fridays second phase.
Maicon Santos, a forward for D.C. United, was picked by the Fire last week. Clubs picking in the first phase must give the selected player a 5 percent pay raise over this current contract. In the second phase clubs and players can negotiate a contract and teams can even draft the players they put on the original list.
That means the Fire could still keep goalkeeper Jay Nolly, midfielder Corben Bone or defender Dan Gargan. They werent claimed in the first stage, Gargan being a last-minute addition to the list of available players announced by the league.
Thirteen of the 52 players on the leagues initial list withdrew from the re-entry process just before the draft began. Some, most notably the Fires Gonzalo Segares, reached a contract agreement with their former team just before the drafting began.
Among the players still on the list for the second phase are Juan Pablo Angel and Danny Califf of Chivas USA, Conor Casey and Tyrone Marshall of Colorado, Julian DeGuzman and Kevin Hartman of FC Dallas, and Ramiro Corrales and Khari Stephenson of San Jose. Former Fire players Chad Barrett (Los Angeles) and John Thorrington (Vancouver) are also available in the draft.
MLS started conducting a re-entry draft in 2010, and the Fire acquired defender Cory Gibbs that time. A starter until knee injury sidelined him last March, Gibbs announced his retirement last month. The Fire has the No. 11 pick in this years second phase of the re-entry draft.
While that draft is in progress the Fire will begin its fifth annual open tryout at the Bridgeview Sports & Soccer Dome. About 150 players will participate on Friday, and the clubs technical staff will invite the most promising ones back for another session on Saturday. After Saturdays selection the staff will name one player to participate in Januarys first phase of preseason training.
Pari Pantazopoulos, winner of the open tryout in 2011, survived three stages of preseason training and spent the full season on the roster. He made his debut with the first team in a U.S. Open Cup match against Rochester and also got playing time in an international friendly against Englands Manchester United. Pantazopoulos, however, didnt make the roster for the 2012 campaign.
Red Stars names coaches
The Chicago Red Stars, preparing for a return to the new, still unnamed womens professional league, will retain Rory Dames as head coach. He joined the Red Stars after their first venture into a womens major league but helped the club to the Womens Professional Soccer League finals in 2011 and the WPSL Elite Finals last season. The Red Stars also won the 2012 U.S. National Cup.
Dames first assistant will be Stephanie Foster, a former Northwestern star who coached her alma maters team from 2006-11. Also on the staff will be second assistant Christian Lavers and goalkeeper coach Trae Manny.
Soul elevates Marojevic
Manny Rojas was replaced as head coach of the Chicago Soul, a new team in the Major Indoor Soccer League, this week after his team got off to a 2-7 start. Novi Marojevic, a mainstay with three Major Indoor Soccer League clubs the Chicago Storm, Rockford Rampage and Chicago Riot has replaced Rojas.
Marojevic will make his head-coaching debut on Friday when the defending MISL champion Milwaukee Wave visits the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. Milwaukees visit will mark only the second home game for the Soul.
MLS names SuperDraft hopefuls
The MLS SuperDraft will be held Jan. 17 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis and the players up for selection there will participate in a combine Jan. 11-15 at Central Broward Regional Park in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., prior to the selection process. The combine is again being held in conjunction with the National Soccer Coaches Association Convention.
MLS announced 54 collegiate players who will participate in the combine. They include goalkeeper Luis Soffner of NCAA champion Indiana and two Notre Dame mainstays midfielder Dillon Powers and forward Ryan Finley.

Blackhawks Notes: Coaching changes and Marcus Kruger’s status

Blackhawks Notes: Coaching changes and Marcus Kruger’s status

Coach Joel Quenneville didn’t mince words. Finding out his good friend, former assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired not long after the Blackhawks’ postseason ended, frustrated him.

“That day, I was not happy. I was a little disappointed,” Quenneville said on Thursday. “We lost a great coach and somebody I had been working with for a long time. It was tough and we’ve moved on now, but I wasn’t excited at the moment.”

In moving on the Blackhawks have revamped their coaching staff, adding another old friend and teammate of Quenneville’s in Ulf Samuelsson and a former member of his St. Louis staff in Don Granato. Quenneville said Samuelsson will take over Kitchen’s responsibilities while Granato will handle a number of tasks.

“Whether he’s pre-scout, helping Kevin [Dineen], helping Ulfie, helping me. He’s helping the young guys like Stan [Bowman] said,” Quenneville said. “We have input with all areas and all coaches and it’s a fun thing, drawing up practices or talking to guys, preparing meetings and evaluating performances. But I think he’s excited to be a part of that as well and Ulfie, he’ll be doing something he’s been doing and he’s excited to work with some of our defense as well.”

As far as the Blackhawks’ defensive style, Quenneville doesn’t foresee it changing.

“I think there are some areas how it ended or after a playoff series, there’s always some tweaks we like to do in games, in playoffs or in series," Quenneville said. "It’s obviously disappointing. But I think there’s a lot of positive things we accomplished last year and how we played without the puck, I don’t think that was too much of an issue.

"But we have a defense that can play both ways and we still want offense from our defensive part of our game. That’d be one of our strengths. But when it’s time to defend, how we want to play in our own end without the puck is something that’ll be very close to how we play.”

Kruger’s situation

There’s been plenty of talk regarding Marcus Kruger, and whether or not he’ll remain with the Blackhawks. Whatever the future holds for the center, general manager Stan Bowman wouldn’t say on Thursday.

“Yeah, there have been a lot of these rumors around, but Marcus is no different than any other player. I’m not going to comment on rumors out there, but people are stating it as if it’s a fact,” Bowman said of Kruger being at the center of trade rumors. “There’s a lot of speculation, but it’s not fair to the players for me to be commenting on what’s been rumored out there. I don’t really have anything to add on that front.”

Trevor van Riemsdyk was Vegas’ selection in Wednesday night’s expansion draft. But a source said it’s still possible the Blackhawks trade Kruger to the Golden Knights.

CubsTalk Podcast: Reacting to Kyle Schwarber's demotion and Mike Montgomery on his evolution

CubsTalk Podcast: Reacting to Kyle Schwarber's demotion and Mike Montgomery on his evolution

Tony Andracki, Scott Changnon and Jeff Nelson react in real time to the breaking news that Kyle Schwarber was demoted to the minor leagues. Plus, the trio play around with expansion drafts and who the most indispensable players on the Cubs are.

[RELATED - Inside the numbers on Schwarber's season-long struggles]

Patrick Mooney also goes 1-on-1 with Cubs swingman southpaw Mike Montgomery about the lanky lefty’s role and how he got here.

Check out the entire Podcast here.