A new season is upon us and it’s time for the Chicago Fire to remind the MLS who they really are. Last season was not their the best season, as they didn’t even make it to the playoffs, but I believe this year, they will be surpass expectations. There have been changes to the lineup, and they continue to have confidence and heart; they are ready to win matches and stop being the underdog. This may be the year Chicago brings home the MLS cup for the first time in 15 years, and here’s a preview of what Chicago has going for them.
Chicago’s best asset is Mike Magee, who was added as a forward to the lineup mid-season last year. I think he’s one of the best forwards in the league and seeing how he won the MLS MVP Award last year, many others agree; he is the one to fear. Chicago’s other strong forwards are Chris Rolfe and Designated Player Juan Luis Anangono. They also signed Giuseppe Gentile in hopes of strengthening their attacking positions. Chicago missed the playoffs on a goal difference last season, so they need to make more goals this season to avoid that.
Chicago has had an inconsistent midfield, but that does not mean it’s a bad one. Jeff Larentowicz is one of their best midfielders, with 32 appearances and scoring two goals and having four assists. Dilly Duka is another excellent player for Chicago;like Magee, he only joined Chicago last season. In the offseason, Chicago signed Santos Laguna midfielder Benji Joya on loan. Hopefully these players will bring forth more help and consistency to Chicago, as they need a strong, consistent middle to build chemistry and help set each other up.
Chicago used their offseason to make a lot of defensive moves. They have kept Sean Johnson as a goalkeeper, who is one of the best keepers in the league and the US National Team‘s third goalkeeper, but a club needs more than a good goalkeeper to have a good defense. With that in mind, Chicago signed Patrick Ianni and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, a defensive pair from the Seattle Sounders, which is a step in the right direction. They also signed Lovel Palmer from Real Salt Lake and one of their SuperDraft picks Marco Franco. Hopefully these new additions will help Gonzalo Segares and Johnson in defending. It may take some time for the players to learn to play with each other, but it will be ready to keep attackers at bay.
Chicago will play 35 matches this season, just like every MLS club. I think they have a really good chance to make it to the MLS finals; I think they will have something like a 24-12-9 season and definitely makes it into the playoffs. I can see them avoiding the knock-out round and heading into the Eastern Conference finals, depending on how the MLS sets up the playoffs this year. This will be a big year for Chicago, and it’s time to make their hometown proud.
Check back Friday to continue following our series previewing all 19 MLS squads’ seasons as first kick approaches on March 8 at CenturyLink Stadium.