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CHICAGO – As the club continues to craft their roster in 2022 for new manager Ezra Hendrickson, they had a first deadline to hit as the end of 2021 approaches.

With Major League Soccer’s expansion draft set for Tuesday, Chicago Fire FC had some decisions to make when it came to their roster, and a few were made the day before.

The club will bring back midfielder Gaston Gimenez for a third and fourth year as they signed him to a new two-year contract that runs through 2023. He’s made 43 appearances with 39 starts in his first two seasons with the Fire, and like then will continue to occupy an international roster slot for the club.

“Gastón is highly motivated to help lead the Fire back into the playoffs,” said team sporting director Georg Heitz in a statement from the club. “He will benefit from a new start under Ezra Hendrickson and will partner with Federico Navarro to form one of the best and hardest working midfields in MLS next season. We have high expectations for Gastón and are confident that he will deliver for the Club.”

At the same time, the club said goodbye to forward Ignacio Aliseda, who was transferred to FC Lugano of the Swiss Super League, which is the partner club of the Fire.

Acquired as the young designated player before the 2020 season, he made 43 appearances with 32 starts in two years, scoring four goals during the 2021 campaign.

Due to these moves, there were few surprises when it came to the protected and unprotected players list released by the club before the expansion draft on Tuesday.

The eight who weren’t protected – forward Robert Berić, defender Francisco Calvo, midfielder Elliot Collier, defender Johan Kappelhof, goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm, midfielder Álvaro Medrán, goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth and midfielder Luka Stojanović – already weren’t returning to the club for the upcoming season.

Aliseda remained on the Fire’s protected list since his transfer doesn’t become official until the start of the new year.