Fire Gains a New Character
By Amanda Beemer
It’s official. Former Fulham FC striker Collins John has signed a contract with the Chicago Fire following a tumultuous preseason stint with the club. John first appeared ambivalent, then vaguely eager, then downright opposed to joining the MLS giant; as recently as this past Wednesday, he was ready to pack his bags and travel back to Europe to search for opportunities there. Despite mutual interest between John and the Fire, coming to an agreement proved to be difficult over the past few days. The point of contention was the length of his contract; whereas the Fire initially only wanted to sign him for a year, John was holding out for a multi-year deal.
This roller-coaster ride with the Fire is reflective of his entire football career, much of which has also been uncertain.
Last December, John abruptly left Belgian club Roselare after playing just nine matches; the future of his career had been up in the air ever since. Prior to signing with Roselare he played for Fulham FC (2004-2009), but was loaned out to three different lower-ranking clubs between 2007 and 2008. Although he had limited success while on loan, he played well for Fulham, scoring 20 goals over his five years with the club. Coming to Chicago makes natural sense because John’s former Fulham teammate, Brian McBride, is a Fire veteran.
Despite all the turbulence, the Liberian-born Dutchman made an impressive showing as a trialist during the Fire’s preseason. Head Coach Carlos de los Cobos was impressed with him from the beginning, and he’s certainly proven his worth over the past month. He scored three goals in six matches, including the final goal in the 3-0 shutout of FC Dallas. Given this record, the striker could be an ample replacement for what the Fire lost in the offseason.
The departure of Chris Rolfe for Danish club Aalborg and Cuauhtémoc Blanco for Mexican club Veracruz was a huge blow for the Fire, and although they have picked up some promising talent in the SuperDraft as well as a couple of international players, no one has stood out with goal-scoring prowess like Rolfe’s or histrionics like Blanco’s. It seems that Collins John may just have both. Here’s to hoping a solid contract, a familiar face, and a strong club with a proven track record will be enough to keep him around and get him to maximize his potential.
Amanda is a long-time Chicago resident and an avid Chicago Fire fan, and has been following MLS for the better part of a decade. Although she makes an awesome spectator, she is a god-awful player.