Over the next month I will be putting out a series of previews for MLS (not The) this season. I know you are all wondering why should I care about MLS, however here are a couple facts to get you going.
- Since 2007 the league has gone from 13 to 24 teams (and counting)
- Last year MLS added a new team in LA owned by Will Ferrell, Magic Johnson, Nomar Garciaparra, and Mia Hamm!
- Soccer has the longest run time of the 4 major sports in 90 minutes, however because there’s no commercials the game only lasts 2 hours.
- Great players such as Josef Martinez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Carlos Vela, and many many more come to a tv near you every week!
- ESPN+ has made it very easy to find each game every week.
Today I am previewing the Chicago Fire and forgive me on this one if I am a little biased, because I have owned season tickets for this team going into my 4th season. I am very close to to the team and have my frustrations with the current situation with the ownership and fans. However, I will try and put that aside and keep the focus on the team. Oh and heres a pic of me trying to cheer on the squad (I’m in the bottom left above the beer).
Owner: Andrew Hauptman
Coach: Veljko Paunovic
Previous Season Record: 8-18-8 10th in East
U.S. Open Cup 2018: Semi finals
Top Scorer: Nemanja Nikolic 15 Goals
Stadium: SeatGeek Stadium (RIP Toyota Park)
After a 2017 season that saw the Fire finish in 3rd place in the East and make the playoffs there was a lot of optimism going into the 2018 season. The Fire also had the Golden Boot winner at the time Nemanja Nikolic after he buried 24 goals.
The most exciting aspect of the team starting the season, had to be the fact that Bastian Schweinsteiger would have a full camp with the team.
What could go wrong right? Welllllll pretty much everything depending on who you ask. The team floundered, and the ownerships relationship with the fans basically deteriorated to the point of no return (see above). The team missed David Accam’s Speed on the outside and at one point was playing Schweinsteiger and Brandon Vincent at Center Back (Midfielder and Left Back Respectively). But if you ask any Chicago Fire fan they will tell you the biggest issue is always at Goaltender. And the rotating circus at the position in the last few years has given the fans little hope.
Last season was one Fire fans will want to forget very quickly, 2019 will have some moments of optimism though with some new additions.
Off Season Transactions
*A couple things to highlight here:
- The amount of young players retiring (Brandon Vincent, Christian Dean) who are extremely promising, is alarming to the fans.
- Bringing in David Ousted as Goalie, hopefully solves one of the Fire’s biggest weaknesses for a long time.
- Losing Michael De Leeuw Hurts, he is a leader for the team and a guy who made big plays when it mattered.
- Przemyslaw Frankowski could be a major difference maker for the team right away.
There are some major questions involving this team as we move towards the 2019 Season.
- What does Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger have left?
- Can anyone replace Brandon Vincent on the wings?
- Will Raheem Edwards and Frankowski bring some much needed speed and creativity to the team?
- Can Nikolic score enough goals anymore to make it worth keeping him around?
- Is Veljko Paunovic a good coach?
- Will David Ousted FINALLY be the answer for the Fire in net?
The answers to these questions will of course come through play on the field. I think half of those will come true I just do not know which yet. With Columbus staying and FC Cincy coming in there are some great rivalries to be had and should push the Fire to be better. Fans can only hope management cares enough about the team to do what it takes to put a winning roster on the field.
My prediction is that they will have a fun first half of the season, but ultimately fade down the stretch and miss the playoffs.