- Posted by Drew Epperley
- On February 18, 2009
- 2 Comments
- 2009 Season Preview, Brian McBride, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Patrick Nyarko, Season Preview
We are starting to roll out the season previews here at WVH. I’m going ABC order just like in year’s past and topping the list as always is the Chicago Fire. The format will remain the same with a look at who came in and left this winter, some questions going into the season, a glance at the schedule and a quick outlook.
Let’s get down to it.
2008 record and finish: 13-10-7, 46 pts, second in the East, lost in Eastern Conference finals.
Baggio Husidic (SuperDraft)
Richard Jata (SuperDraft)
Tomasz Frankowski (waived)
Diego Gutierrez (retired)
Andy Herron (waived)
Stephen King (Seattle Sounders FC – Expansion Draft)
Lider Marmol (contract not picked up)
Unsigned Draft Picks:
Questions going into 2009:
1. Did they do enough to improve from 2008 over the winter?
I have to admit, Chicago is one of a few clubs that has hardly done a thing this winter. They drafted a few guys and that is about it. No major movement this winter other than Blanco on loan for a few weeks in Mexico.
The club was defensively strong last year and has been able to keep a couple guys that most expected to leave this winter. As long as Bakery Soumare is still in MLS and Wilman Conde is happy this defense is fine.
Did they improve from 2008 in terms of movement though? I don’t think so. I still think they are missing an element up top that can be paired with Brian McBride. I know they are hoping for Patrick Nyarko to be that guy but we are still waiting to see that. The addition of Baggio Husidic is a good one though for the midfield, I will give them that.
2. Can they still keep Conde happy?
I think this may be the biggest question going into the season. They didn’t trade him like some thought and they didn’t see him leave on a transfer like others thought. He’s still in uniform and is apparently showing up for camp.
More than likely it looks like Chicago will keep him until they have to do something with him later this summer. If they can get some compensation for him either in a trade or a transfer they will do it but right now they are happy to have him anchor the backline.
3. What guy is due for a breakout year with the Fire?
I don’t know if this guy is really due for it but he certainly needs to have a breakout year for the Fire. That guy is Patrick Nyarko. His speed alongside McBride’s smarts up top should be a good combination for this club.
If Nyarko can spark the attack either as a starter or in late game situations as a sub, he could be a real tough defend for most clubs in the league.
Look at the 2009 Schedule:
A fairly nice start to the 2009 season for the Fire. A couple on the road in win-able environments like DC and San Jose mixed in with a couple nice home games that should be wins. All that before a huge Eastern conference finals rematch with the Crew in Columbus on April 25.
May is a full month for the club with six games all together, three in a row on the road. June slows down in a big way with only two matches.
After the All-Star break its another big month in August with six big games, four in Toyota Park. Two of their last three games of the year are on the road. Should it be like last year they won’t have to worry about needing those final few games to get into the playoffs.
2009 Season Outlook:
On the surface this is pretty much the exact same team we saw in 2008 with the only exception of a couple draft picks. No big roster changes yet (though there is still time before the season kicks off next month). Right now in the East you have to think they are still a favorite to go pretty deep into the playoffs again with Blanco, McBride and the defense in place.
Getting back to the playoffs and even the conference final shouldn’t be a big stretch with the way things look in the East. But depth is still an issue for this club and should one defender go down the defense could be a bit shaky. Still the core of this club remains in place from last year and I still like their chances.