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01/16/2014
 
By Rusty Silber, Chicago Correspondent
 
Chicago, IL - Days before 2014 MLS SuperDraft, the Chicago Fire made a move bolstering its defensive back line that definitely adds some well needed depth.
 
The Fire picked up defenders Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni and a 13th overall selection in 2014 MLS SuperDraft from the Seattle Sounders FC for defender Jalil Anibaba, the eighth overall 2014 selection and a conditional third round in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.
 
Hurtado comes from Palmira, Columbia and started his professional career in 2004 with Union Magdalena. He appeared in 121 matches in the first and second divisions. Hurtado started with the Sounders in 2009 and was a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year and appeared in 108 regular season appearances and started in 11 postseason matches.
 
Ianni, a two-time MLS Cup Champion with the Houston Dynamo in 2006 and 2007. He played with the Sounders over the last five seasons and in 83 regular season matches. Ianni, from Lodi, California netted three goals including a stunning volley against Sporting Kansas City on June 20, 2012 that was named the 2012 MLS Goal of the Year. He also played his collegiate career with UCLA and nominated for the MAC Hermann Trophy Award in his junior year.
 
“Adding Jhon, a former Defender of the Year finalist and  defensive All-Star, automatically makes our team better,” Chicago Fire Head Coach Frank Yallop said. “Along with Patrick (Ianni), we are adding valuable depth on the defensive side. While this trade addresses a key need, we thank Jalil for his time in Chicago and wish him all the best with his new club.”
 
Anibaba leaves Chicago after three seasons. He made 107 appearances with the Fire, scoring five goals and five assists.
 
Expect, the Chicago Fire going after some midfielders in the 2014 SuperDraft with its eyes on some more defense and even help at forward.

An Era Ends in Seattle as Ianni and Hurtado Depart


 
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01/15/2014
 
An era ended in Seattle today when two of the men who were present in the original Sounders FC squad were traded.

Centre-halves Pat Ianni and Jhon Hurtado will play their football in Illinois next season for Frank Yallop's Chicago Fire. The 13th overall selection in the 2014 SuperDraft goes with them. 

In return, Jalil Anibaba, a 25-year-old defender, the eighth overall selection in the 2014 SuperDraft and a 2015 conditional third round SuperDraft pick arrive in the Emerald City for Sigi Schmid's use.

Anibaba, 25, has started 93 of 96 appearances for Chicago over the past three seasons. He started all 34 regular-season matches in 2013, scoring one goal with a career high three assists. 

"Jalil is a center back who has tremendous upside," said Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid in a club press release. "He has been very durable and we expect him to contribute right away."

Sounders fans have that contribution to look forward to.

The departures of Ianni and Hurtado will resonate as both have been such a staple of the franchise since 2009. Hurtado had a superb first year, and along with Tyrone Marshall, built a centre half combination of youth and experience in the club's inaugural season. It served them well despite Marshall obviously beginning to age.

Marshall started 25 games and Hurtado 26. When either was absent, Ianni played as a very competent third choice starting ten games and totaling 1102 minutes. 

With Hurtado suffering an injury, 2010 was Ianni's finest year. He played 25 games (starting 24) and logged 2096 minutes. His common sense attitude and ability to lead saw unusual scenes like the youngster calming an apoplectic Freddie Ljungberg when the Swede was throwing one of his frequent tantrums at referees or colleagues.

Ianni's injury curse returned and he played few games in 2011 while Hurtado started 23. Jeff Parke was by then showing excellent form and became the unquestioning first choice centre half. Ianni started 12 games but was dogged by further injuries.

In 2012, despite inconsistent form the pair logged 3148 minutes and 35 starts between them, but found playing time only because of a rift between the on-form and fit Parke, and coach Sigi Schmid.

It took an injury sustained at half time in a derby game to Hurtado before he was finally taken off, amid some of the worst form he has exhibited in the league. Schmid was forced to play Parke despite the tension but the coach's reputation with the fans suffered when they compared the dire form of Hurtado to that of Parke on his return. Many asked if Schmid had put his ego before the team in refusing to select Parke.

Pat Ianni did however score the MLS Goal of the Season.

Ianni played just 705 minutes in 2013 and the arrival of France's Djimi Traore pushed him down the pecking order. He recovered from an injury but the old form was not there.

Hurtado briefly raised fans' expectations with flashes of his 2009 form, but then reverted to type and perhaps even worse. His partnership with Traore was probably the worst centre half pairing in the club's MLS history.

Now departed Austrian Goalkeeper Mike Gspurning saved the club from a few thrashings but when his form  bubble burst, the club started shedding goals; 5 in Colorado and 4 in the next game, an embarrassing home thrashing against a poor Vancouver
Whitecaps side.

It became clear over the years that Ianni would just not be lucky with injuries. Backs followed ankles. Once came after the other. He once seemed to have the skill and temparement to be the future captain of Sounders FC but could not get the consistent run of fitness to establish a first team place all for himself.

Whenever he came close, he found an established partnership like Marshall and Hurtado in his way, or an upstart like Zach Scott displaying form that made him hard to drop for a man still returning from injury.

Whether the tender caress of Frank Yallop can resurrect these two careers is a toss-up.

If his time at San Jose is any indication, Yallop likes physical players so it is hard to see where Hurtado fits in, being a man whose main fault was that he could be too easily brushed aside for a center half.

Ianni might just make it there. He provides a decent set piece threat and like his new boss, does not have backing down in his DNA. They will both be missed in Seattle

Only Osvaldo Alonso, Leo Gonzalez, Scott and Brad Evans now remain of the MLS originals in Washington State.

"One of the most difficult parts of this job is losing good people," Said Sounders FC Owner and General Manager Adrian Hanauer. "Jhon and Patrick are both quality individuals who have been with our organization from the beginning. We wish them the best in Chicago."

That probably barely touches on his personal sadness to see them go.

And that of their many friends and fans among the Sounders FC support.

Jalil Anibaba Off to Seattle for Defensive Depth






 
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