The Chicago Fire have addressed one of their offseason needs by acquiring Polish defender Krzysztof Krol on loan from Jagiellonia Bialystok. Krol, who turns 23 next month, will be given a shot at the left-back spot vacated by Costa Rican international Gonzalo Segares, whose MLS contract expired in December.
Segares has since signed with Cypriot club Apollon; injuries limited him to 12 games last year, and the club used several players as cover. Daniel Woolard, Austin Washington and Mike Banner are among the candidates at left back if Krol falters.
The loan runs for the 2009 MLS season. Krol's salary has not been disclosed. There is reportedly a buyout figure to convert the loan into a transfer -- a provision that MLS is trying to mandate for all loan deals -- but this information is not confirmed.
After starting his pro career with Real Madrid's reserve team in 2006, Krol joined Jagiellonia Bialystok of the Ekstraklasa Liga in 2008. Fire technical director Frank Klopas said the club first noticed Krol at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada; Krol played in three of Poland's four matches at the tournament, missing only the 6-1 thrashing by the U.S. fueled by a Freddy Adu hat trick.
"He likes to get forward -- that is one of his qualities," Klopas said in a press release officially announcing the deal. "He likes to attack and has been able to give some quality crosses in. We had scouted certain young players in Poland based on position, and when Gonzalo moved on, we thought this would be a good fit."
(Also on that U.S. U-20 team was current Fire midfielder/defender Tim Ward, who played some right back last year before an injury prompted veteran Brandon Prideaux, who has since retired, into the position.)
Preseason training officially begins Monday in Chicago, and the Fire are one of several MLS teams planning to spend the early part of February in Arizona.