On Sunday morning, the Fire announced its acquisition of defender Rafael Czichos from Bundesliga side FC Köln. Czichos, 31, is the first international signing under new head coach Ezra Hendrickson, and looks set to bring a wealth of experience to the Fire backline.
As the 2022 preseason nears, get familiar with the Club's newest addition in the fast facts and figures below:
Since making his professional debut for German club TSV Ottersberg in 2008, Czichos has made 412 professional appearances in all competitions across the German pyramid.
In that span, Czichos - a central defender - has racked up 75 combined goals and assists in his career to-date. He's scored 47 times, while assisting on 28 occasions in all competitions.
On two separate occasions, Czichos has helped lead teams to promotion in Germany. First, in the 2016-17 3. Liga season, Czichos made 37 appearances (37 starts) and captained Holstein Kiel to a second-place finish, leading the club to its first promotion to the 2. Bundesliga since 1981. Then, in 2018-19, Czichos was a 2. Bundesliga Champion with FC Köln and helped the team return to the Bundesliga, where they've remained since.
Czichos has been a mainstay for his clubs dating back to the earliest stages of his career. From his first season in the 3. Liga (2012-13) through his latest completed season in the Bundesliga (2020-21), Czichos has averaged more than 31 appearances per season in league play. Additionally, he appeared in every league match for Köln this season (17 games) prior to his departure.
In total, Czichos made 111 appearances (108 starts) during his time with FC Köln. That figure includes 77 appearances (74 starts) across three straight campaigns in the Bundesliga.
Czichos' durability extends to his three-season run with Holstein Kiel (2015-18), where he made 104 appearances and served as team captain. While there, he was a teammate of former Fire goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm. The pair appeared 69 times together from 2016-18.