rafael-czichos

We all knew this offseason was going to be sizable and crucial for the Chicago Fire.

As such, they’ve started out the January transfer window with a splash after landing bullish, experienced German defender Rafael Czichos.

Czichos comes from FC Köln in the German Bundesliga, where he has been a regular starter for the past four seasons and made 111 appearances across all competitions. Köln currently sit in eighth place, but are only a few points out of European football. That’s a big deal for a club that were relegated for the 18-19 season. Czichos was brought in following Köln’s drop into the 2. Bundesliga that year, and helped them gain both immediate promotion and the league title.

This signing is exactly the type of player the Fire needed. He’s an experienced, strong center back to most likely pair with Carlos Terán along the backline. Czichos has a terrific left foot, and can hit those long 40-50 yard diagonal balls to skip lines and move the opposition’s defense. His distribution is very solid, and the fact he is left-footed is a plus as things will look and feel more fluid in the build-up. From the film I’ve watched, he also seems to have that sixth sense of when to step in front of an attacker and when to make an emergency challenge to prevent a scoring opportunity.

Obviously, Czichos’ production and experience will help the Fire defensively, but playing next to him will also be a tremendous experience for the likes of Terán and Miguel Navarro. They’ll be able to learn and see what a Bundesliga center back looks like and have his guidance along the way.

At 31, he is well above the average age of the squad from last year which was around 24, but we expected this coming into the January transfer window. The average age of the nine players let go this offseason was 30. This simply means that the technical staff are retooling the top half of the roster with regard to money and age. Czichos, I imagine, will be the first of a number of signings who are north of the average age Fire fans have come to expect but will (most likely) be game ready and able to make an impact almost immediately.

I think I speak for everyone when I say I can’t wait to see that thunderous left foot and tenacious defensive instinct at Soldier Field this year.