Like Columbus Crew SC, the Chicago Fire did a lot of retooling over the offseason. Two of the biggest acquisitions came in the midfield where the Fire added two veterans in center midfielders Dax McCarty and Juninho.
“They’re two good players,” Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter said on Tuesday. “I know Juninho very well having played with him (in LA). He’s a fantastic player, great guy, but brings a lot to that team. A winning mentality, a shot from distance. He’s a competitor as well. That’s definitely a strong piece in their lineup.
And then with Dax, he’s a guy I have a lot of respect for. He’s played a number of years in the league and he competes. So we know we’re going to have our hands full.”
It appears Chicago has compiled a formidable pair in central midfield, but news coming out Friday means the Black & Gold’s hands should be a little less full in the season-opening match on Saturday.
Some bad news for #cf97 fans. Team official says Juninho is suspended for tomorrow's opener. Red card in final Liga MX game on 11/26...— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) March 3, 2017
Mexican Fed requested the suspension upheld. Chicago appealed to FIFA this week, but lost. So won't see McCarty-Juninho pairing in Columbus.— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) March 3, 2017
Yes, rare to see red card carry over from one league to another. But FIFA honored the request from Mexican federation.— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) March 3, 2017
This will leave the Fire in scramble mode a bit, after preparing to have their two new signings both play on Saturday.
This news could be a boost for Crew SC, who are looking to reshape their midfield as well. Without Juninho, Columbus doesn’t have to worry about the characteristics Berhalter listed above, but that’s also a player they’ve been practicing for.
We will see how it all plays out when Crew SC kickoff the 2017 MLS season against the Fire Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m ET.