Ted S. Warren/Associated Press
Competition is brewing in Chicago.
Well, it was.
In a deal that saw many moving parts, chief among them a trio of veteran defenders, the Chicago Fire acquired Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni from the Seattle Sounders in exchange for Jalil Anibaba. MLS SuperDraft picks were also involved in this intricate trade.
According to assistant coach C.J. Brown, the acquisitions of Hurtado and Ianni created more than depth.
As reported by Anthony Zilis on the club's official website, Brown expects the battle for starting minutes to be an asset for the club in 2014:
I think all you need is competition. For the past few years, or last year at least, that back line didn't have competition. It was just that back line. Now, we brought in competition, so I think everybody's going to be raining hard every week, putting in the work that's necessary for the weekend. It's going to be a very hard decision for us to put a starting four on the backline.
The one acquisition bringing the most heat to Chicago's backline is Hurtado.
The 30-year-old center-back started in at least 20 matches for the Sounders since 2011. When dissecting his numbers from last season, they equal, if not best those of his new teammate Bakary Soumare:
Early in the preseason, the partnership of Hurtado and Soumare have seen a majority of the starting minutes. Berry, the 2012 Rookie of the Year, wasn't far behind in his conditioning after offseason shoulder surgery.
Clearly something was in the works as Coach Yallop expected his two most experienced veterans to start the season:
You never say exactly what you're going to do, but it feels like they will be a good pairing in our defense. But again, things happen in preseason, there's injuries, there's lack of form, all of that. I would think [Hurtado and Soumare] would be starting the season together, and that's not to say Patrick and Austin aren't right there, knocking on the door. We have four very good center backs.
Well, now the Fire have three "good center-backs".
In a surprise move, Chicago traded Berry on Monday to the Philadelphia Union in exchange for allocation money. According to Coach Yallop, the move was made to become cap compliant by March 1.
For Hurtado, it looks like the competition is no longer there.