Chicago Fire have signed Rafael Czichos from Bundesliga side FC Köln on a three-year deal through to the the 2024 season.
He was signed with Targeted Allocation Money and is set to occupy an international roster slot on the Fire’s 2022 roster.
The 31 year old is a left-sided defender and will likely lead Chicago’s backline under Ezra Hendrickson’s reign.
“One of our key objectives for this offseason was to acquire a talented left-footed center back and we feel confident we have achieved that with Rafael’s signing,” Chicago sporting director Georg Heitz said in a press release.
“Working closely with Ezra and the staff, we identified Rafael as a player who will fit our style of play and bring more quality and leadership to our roster. We’re thrilled that he has agreed to join the Fire and look forward to welcoming him to Chicago.”
Czichos departs FC Koln after a 13-year career exclusively spent in German football. He made over 320 appearances in German professional divisions, including 111 for Die Geissböcke.
He also captained German side Holstein Kiel as they earned promotion to the 2. Bundesliga for the first time since 1981.
"I decided together with my family to fulfill a dream and move to the U.S. for the next three years," Czichos said in his own statement.
"Leaving Köln is not easy for me after three and a half emotional and successful years. I'm very proud and thankful for this time. The promotion in 2019 was something very special to me."
The player joins a back line in need of leadership, as it allowed 54 goals during the 2021 season to finish in the bottom third league-wide. Chicago Fire are back in action when the 2022 Major League Soccer season kicks off on February 26.