Over these last few weeks, we’ve played a lot of different teams. Seattle Sounders (twice… oops) and Houston Dynamo are two of the top teams in the Western Conference. D.C. United has now taken the top spot in the Eastern Conference. With the exception of the Portland Timbers in the very first game of the season, every team that we have played against is now in a playoff spot in their respective conference.
But today we’ll look at someone a bit different. Today, we look at Chicago Fire, an MLS team that shares their name with an NBC show. When I went to Google “Chicago Fire”, I didn’t get a mention of their team until page two. Safe to say that Chicago isn’t setting the MLS world… on fire. Ha.
The last several years, Chicago has been floating around the bottom of the table, then in 2017 they reached third in their conference. They tried to go the D.C. United route and sign a big-name player to bring things around, but Bastian Schweinsteiger hasn’t had quite the level of impact Rooney has had on DC. When Schweinsteiger arrived in 2017, it was a big deal and certainly helped them get better, but the success didn’t last into 2018.
As they turned their attention to the 2019 season, the Fire mostly got rid of a lot of dead weight on their team. They got declined the options on seven players, including former Rapids player Luis Solignac, and had another three players retire, including the journeyman himself Alan Gordon. They brought in a handful of guys, including several homegrowns, but mostly bolstered their roster with a few MLS veterans.
Building out from the back, in net is David Ousted. He is relatively new to the team as they picked him up on waivers, but is their starter. In front of him is a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the back line led by Schweinsteiger himself. The defensive mids are Dax McCarty and Mo Adam, with the offensive mids probably being CJ Sapong, Serbian DP Aleksander Katai, and Djordje Mihailovic. Up front, they have another Serbian DP in Nemanja Nikolic who has scored 41 goals over his 70 games with the Fire.
I won’t try to sugarcoat this season for us. Seven games in, four of which were at home, and we still haven’t gotten a single win. But, Chicago has been a team that has struggled to find its identity. They have three DPs and should be a fairly strong team at home (though this year they are 1-1-2 at home so far), but they also tend to find themselves near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
We’re desperate for three points, and I think that Chicago might be the first team we beat this year. Only time will tell...