Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko will have to lead the Fire this year. (Photo by John Gress/Getty Images)

Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko will have to lead the Fire this year. (Photo by John Gress/Getty Images)

Today I begin a long, long series of posts that will preview the 2013 MLS Season. I have a team-by-team preview lined up along with several other articles that will hopefully get everyone ready for the upcoming season. Some of the articles include a look at the top movers this offseason to who had possibly the worst offseason.

I wanted to kick this off today with a look at the Chicago Fire. For those curious I am going alphabetical in this team-by-team look. I know I have already done similar and slightly shorter posts on each club already this season, I mainly wanted to focus on a higher level on each squad.

So here we go…

Chicago Fire

2011 Record: 17-11-6 (4th place Eastern Conference), 57 points

[twocol_one]IN:
Maicon Santos (12/7/12 – Re-Entry Draft Stage 1)
Joel Lindpere (1/4/13 – trade from New York)
Jeff Larentowicz (1/16/13 – trade from Colorado)
Brendan King (1/31/13 – free)
Dilly Duka (2/4/13 – trade from Columbus)[/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last]OUT: 
GK Jay Nolly (12/3/12 – option declined)
Pável Pardo (1/19/13 – retired)
Guillermo Franco (1/21/13 – option declined)
Álvaro Fernández (1/25/13 - loaned to Al-Rayyan)
Federico Puppo (1/26/13 – loaned to LDU Quito)
Dominic Oduro (2/4/13 – trade to Columbus)[/twocol_one_last]
I think a lot of this upcoming season is going to hinge on the performance of Joel Lindpere, as he seems like he will be the more offensive center midfielder on the roster. If Joel can replicate his 2010 season, it might be enough to keep pressure off of players like Sherjill and Rolfe, so the Fire can advance beyond the knock-out round and, possibly, reach the MLS Cup Final. – Mark O’Rouke, HotTimeInOldTown.com (Chicago Fire blog) Key Questions for 2013:

1. Can the Fire score enough? Let’s be real honest for a moment about the Fire. They have a couple of good forwards with Chris Rolfe, Designated Player Sherjill MacDonald, and even newcomer Maicon Santos. But the more I look at this club the more I begin to wonder, will that be enough offense to lead this squad? Yes, Patrick Nyarko is a good player that can contribue and you know newcomers Joel Lindpere and Jeff Larentowicz will give them some offense. But let’s face it, losing Alvaro Fernandez and even Dominic Oduro takes away some of their punch up top. Head coach Frank Klopas will have to get real creative with his offense this season.

2. What will Duka, Lindpere and Larentowicz bring to the midfield? I love the two aggressive moves right before the MLS SuperDraft to land Linpere and Larentowicz. It was big. It was bold. Landing Duka was only a matter of time shortly after that too. Those three will add some good flavor to the midfield of the Fire. Lindpere is deadly on the wings in setting up an attack while Duke and provide energy and flare in the attack as well. Larentowicz will do a little more to help this club out though. He brings in some defensive grit and toughness that could help keep this club in many games in 2013. The Fire’s defense was good last year but Larentowicz will make them even better.

3. Will Robbie Rogers join the Fire? The Fire own his rights but anything could happen with this right now. I had some folks tell me that once the deal was made with Columbus that he would sign right away. It turns out those talks were dead. I’d imagine he’ll get traded (again) to someone else in the league.

Breakout Player for 2013

Corben Bone – will this finally be his year to shine? I think we’ll finally get to see what some have thought all along about this guy.

Predictions for 2013

The Fire will make the playoffs. This team is talented and for the better part of last summer I thought they were one move away from being a legit contender to go all the way.

Klopas will make a couple risky moves in the summer. With an open DP slot there for the taking, manager Frank Klopas will go out and snag a forward in the summer transfer window that will help push his team up the Eastern Conference ladder.

One injury could damper the season. If things end up not going well it could be due to an injury or two in their defense. Arne Fridrich is no young pup anymore and should one of the young defensive stars like Austin Berry or Jahil Anibaba go out for any length of time, it could create some issues.

[twitter_follow username="wvhooligan" language="en"]