Puerari exit paves way for Pavel
By Len Ziehm Special to Sun-Times Media June 15, 2011 10:08PM
Updated: October 16, 2011 12:17AM
The Fire parted ways with forward Gaston Puerari on Wednesday, apparently setting the stage for the signing of Mexican midfielder Pavel Pardo as its next designated player.
Puerari, signed by Fire technical director and interim coach Frank Klopas off Montevideo Wanderers (Uruguay) in the offseason, was transferred to Mexican first-division team Atlas for an undisclosed sum. In announcing the move, Klopas hinted a bigger one was in the offing.
‘‘Atlas was very keen on Gaston, and we made the decision to accept the offer based on the best interests of building our club,’’ Klopas said. ‘‘This move provides us with additional flexibility to find a player who will help us achieve our goal of making the playoffs.’’
The Fire went big into the designated-player market last season, signing Mexican forward Nery Castillo and former Swedish captain Freddie Ljungberg. Castillo was a bust, and Ljungberg rejected a Fire offer and chose to play in Europe this season.
Puerari and fellow Uruguayan Diego Chaves were among Klopas’ key acquisitions in his attempt to rebuild the Fire, which finished 9-12-9 last season and missed the playoffs for only the second time in its 13 seasons.
Chaves was the more effective of the two South Americans, scoring four goals in the first 14 games, but Puerari still made 10 starts, played in 14 games and had one goal and two assists. After the season started, however, Klopas signed Colombian striker Cristian Nazarit and picked up speedy Dominic Oduro in a trade with the Houston Dynamo. Puerari, 25, was clearly expendable.
Sources say the Fire is targeting Pardo, who didn’t report to training camp in Cancun with America, one of Mexico’s most popular sides. He also has been reported to be in negotiations with the Fire, which was in need of immediate help. The team snapped a franchise-record 11-game winless streak Sunday with a 1-0 victory at Columbus.
Pardo, 35, is a defensive midfielder who would provide the Fire with considerable veteran experience, something the young squad is lacking. He played in 513 games for America, Atlas and Tecos of the Mexican league and has 148 caps for the Mexican national team.
In addition to his time in Mexico, Pardo also played in 71 games for Stuttgart and helped that team to the Bundesliga title in 2008.
The Fire takes a 2-4-8 record into Saturday’s MLS road game against the New England Revolution.