Chicago Fire Season Preview

Chicago Fire Season Preview

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On March 5, 2008
  • 4 Comments

As slow as things have been lately it is as good of a time as ever to start pumping these season previews out. Today I will begin my season previews with the Chicago Fire. More than likely I will be going in ABC order here and not by any rankings or predictions that I may have, so no speculating that I am starting at the top or bottom of the food chain Fire fans.

2007 Record and Finish: 10-10-10, 40 points, 7th place overall, tied for 4th in East with Kansas City, made Eastern Conference Finals.

Player Movement:

Incoming: Patrick Nyarko (Superdraft), Dominic Cervi (Superdraft), Peter Lowry (Superdraft), Austin Washington (Superdraft), Stephen King (Superdraft), Andy Herron (trade with Columbus), Kai Kasiguran (Supplemental Draft), Tomasz Frankowski (transfer), and Brandon Prideaux (waiver claim).

Outgoing: Pablo Wanchope (retired), Chris Armas (retired), Ivan Guerreo (Expansion Draft), Jim Curtin (trade with Chivas), Matt Pickens (transfer).

Questions Going Into 2008:

1. Is Jon Busch Really the Number One Keeper?

Yes and no really. For now Busch is really the only option that the Fire have at keeper. Cervi is too far away from being a start since he is very young (but don’t be shocked to see him play some) and Nick Noble saw no first team experience last year, so it has to be Busch.

2. How much of a headache will Wilham Conde be?

This is a tricky question really for the Fire. If Conde plays the Fire will have a solid defense but if he plays with the mindset of wanting to be traded away or not play in Chicago then this defense will not be nearly as good as it can be. Some parts are young and some are old on the defense and both need Conde to be out there and playing like he did in 2007. When the Fire played their best soccer last season it was due to Conde in the back helping them out.

I will say this about the Fire, if Conde is traded or doesn’t play this season then the Fire will be an average defense at best.

3. How will Blanco be for an entire season with the Fire?

A full season of Blanco has to be better than a half season right? Should be. As much as I expected him to go crazy last year and be the Blanco that most hate here in the States, Blanco turned out to be pretty reasonable to watch and at times really showed us how a designated player should be in this league (remember that goal against RSL, damn that was pretty).

As long as he is leading the way this club should be fine in the midfield, I just wonder if there are any strikers to actually finish his crosses this time around.

4. Did they do enough this off-season?

In some degrees they didn’t have to do much this off-season in terms of adding depth. They aren’t in any competitions outside of the US so they didn’t need to make sure they were able to play some extra games this year like Houston and DC will. The only area I am concerned in is if they have the defense to do damage in the east to make it back to the MLS Cup. I honestly don’t think they did enough there.

With the injuries this club had last year you would have thought they would have gotten some insurance in the midfield and defense for that but they didn’t other than draft picks.

5. Can Chris Rolfe stay healthy for a full season?

This is a big one really, I think the health of Rolfe determines how well the Fire will actually do this year. When he is on his game he is as good as most strikers in this league but when he is not healthy he is a waste of space on the field. I think pairing him up with newcomer Tomasz Frankowski will be interesting. Both should be able to handle any balls that come in from Blanco.

2008 Outlook:

I was reading the outlook I gave the Fire last year and it pretty much became true. Questionable defense along with a decent offense with the addition of a midseason DP signing would get them into the playoffs as a 7th or 8th seed. That happened pretty much just as I wrote it.

I think the Fire are good enough to return to the playoffs this year due to having Blanco for a full season. The defense is still a mystery and how the club responds to a new coach will be interesting. I think they are a move or two away from really making noise in the east but should be able to contend nicely with New England and DC. Injuries will hurt this club though like last year but in this league the playoffs should be something the Fire will be able to do.

As for a MLS club? I just don’t see it happening just yet with this bunch. I’ve been wrong before but as someone who played the game on the defensive side of things I just cannot put all my eggs in the Fire’s basket due to their defensive concerns and their goalkeeper situation.

  • Jim

    I wonder what your opinion is on Osorios effect on the fire last year. After mid season and the arrival of Blanco and Osorio, the Fire developed a clear rythm in the midfield. Until then, the team had no rythm at all and often failed to possess for more than 1/3 of the game. The question that keeps me up at night (I am a Fire Fan, obviously) is this: was that coheasion and rythm all Osario or was it Blanco? And if it was Osoria, does Hamlett have the skill as a coach and manager to keep it going?

  • drew.epperley

    Osorio's effect on the Fire was probably more than Blancos. I think Hamlett will be a good coach but I don't know if their defense will be the same under him, and if the midfield will be as good as last year. This is a club that has to be healthy to win, if not they are average at best.

  • Jim

    I wonder what your opinion is on Osorios effect on the fire last year. After mid season and the arrival of Blanco and Osorio, the Fire developed a clear rythm in the midfield. Until then, the team had no rythm at all and often failed to possess for more than 1/3 of the game. The question that keeps me up at night (I am a Fire Fan, obviously) is this: was that coheasion and rythm all Osario or was it Blanco? And if it was Osoria, does Hamlett have the skill as a coach and manager to keep it going?

  • Osorio’s effect on the Fire was probably more than Blancos. I think Hamlett will be a good coach but I don’t know if their defense will be the same under him, and if the midfield will be as good as last year. This is a club that has to be healthy to win, if not they are average at best.