#cf97 Off-Season Weekly: Accolades, Eurotrips, and $$$

Gobble.

Gobble. Fire!

OTF Editor Scott Fenwick muses on the news from Fireland before his annual tryptophan coma…

The long, cold Chicago winter may be setting in, but there’s still plenty of Fire to keep you warm. 

What sayeth Chris Rolfe?

Chris Rolfe spoke with our friend Anthony Zilis at mlssoccer.com this week, and was refreshingly forthright in his assessment of his dismal season. 

“Obviously I have a lot I can work on and get better for next year,” Rolfe said. “[I need to work on] everything. It’s everything that I did last year that I was unhappy with.”

“From my mentality last year, at times, to my physicality, my finishing, my first step, there are a number of things, an endless list of things that I can get better in. That really excites me going into an off-season healthy.”

The latter quote illustrates the importance of mental toughness. In the article, Chris Rolfe admits he was healthy in 2013. At the same time, he admits he didn’t have his head on straight.

Footballers are human beings like the rest of us. For all we know, Chris may have had some things going on in his personal life that affected his performance. Fair enough.

Thing is though, he must come back strong. The cruel reality is nice-guy Rolfe works in a results-based business for a club that expects to do better.

Rolfe will be paid handsomely (by MLS standards) in 2014. After an awful 2013 his trade and sale value is low, so he’ll likely stay put. I’m afraid though, with a new boss in town, he’s not tough enough to make the grade.

My prediction? Chris Rolfe will be one of MLS’s highest-paid super-subs in 2014, which is fine as long as he embraces the role. After all, a contract’s a contract, and Lincoln Park rent ain’t cheap.

rolfe3

Time to get your swagger back, son.

Goodbye Carolina, Hello Arizona!

That’s right folks, Chicago Fire will ditch the swamp and head to Tuscon for the Desert Diamond Cup this winter. The Men in Red will join Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, New England Revolution, Real Salt Lake, and USL Premier Development League’s FC Tucson in the third edition of the tournament that will run from February 19 until March 1.

No more gators to worry about, but I wonder, how does Jeff Crandall feel about snakes, lizards, and buzzards?

Hi. I'm Charlie. Come get some. (photo: chicago-fire.com)

Au revoir, Charlie.

Formación Española

Dilly Duka and Victor Pineda began a two-week training stint with Atlético Madrid yesterday, following in the footsteps of teammates Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, and Corben Bone. Duka has made previous training trips to Netherlands and Spain as a member of the Generation Adidas program, while Pineda was slated to train with Los Rojiblancos last year before a knee injury sidelined him.

Interestingly, Pineda, who will turn 21 in March, has been with the Fire since age 12, yet has never made a first-team appearance. Perhaps el jefe Diego Simeone will show him a difference-making trick or two to bring back across the pond? 

Fire fans have got to love this exchange program with such an elite club. After all, Atléti looks poised to make a deep run in the Champions League. Viva!

Nuestros Hermanos

Nuestros Hermanos

Glory, Glory

Mike Magee is officially a finalist for MLS MVP along with Montreal’s Marco DiVaio & LA’s Robbie Keane. The winner will be announced on Thursday, December 5th ahead of the MLS Cup Final.

Thankfully, Brendan Hannan doesn’t get to vote. I still miss him though.

*Sniffles*

b

Well, I know my answer, Brendan, but regardless of what happens with the league MVP award, Magia Miguel, unsurprisingly, was named Section 8 Supporters’ Player of the Year this week. Mike will be on hand Saturday night at A.J. Hudson’s Public House (3801 N. Ashland) to receive his award, along with a check for $1,500 to donate to the charity of his choice. Very cool.

Just remember folks, keep your hands to yourselves, okay?

Not Bradley Cooper, yet handsome nonetheless.

Not Bradley Cooper, yet handsome nonetheless.

Rounding up the awards talk, Jalil Anibaba was named as a finalist for MLS’s Fair Play award.

Yawn.

I’d rather he booted some guys. Yawn.

Dolla dolla bills, ya’ll

As was widely reported, Forbes magazine released its valuations of MLS franchises this week. Unsurprisingly, the numbers have shot up across the board since last reported some years ago, with the average franchise now worth an estimated $103 million, marking a 175% increase.

How does Chicago Fire stack up to the rest of the league and how do its current numbers compare to 2007?

Year $ Value (rank) $ Revenue (rank) $ Operating Income (rank)
2007 41m (3rd) 16m (3rd) -3.1m (11th)
2013 102m (8th) 24.5m (9th) -3.2m (16th)

A few things to note:

  • MLS had 13 teams in 2007 and 19 teams in 2013.
  • Andrew Hauptman and Andell, Inc. reportedly paid $30 million for the Chicago Fire franchise in 2007.
  • I reckon one of the reasons the Fire continues to operate at a loss is the sweetheart stadium sponsorship deal former owner AEG inked with Toyota before Andell took over. I understand that Toyota only pays 1/3 of market value, which means the naming rights were undervalued by approximately 66% at the time of signing. This means an annual fixed revenue loss for the Village of Bridgeview and the club.

How was the Fire’s $102 million valuation determined you ask? Well, look no further than the maths Open Wide For Some Soccer uncovered…

open wide

"You told me we'd be together forever, friend."

“You, $102 million. Me, a bottle of Ouzo.”

Meet the gaffer

Finally, the club will host a town-hall style meeting starring new Director of Soccer and Head Coach Frank Yallop in the Toyota Park Stadium Club on Saturday, December 14th. Doors open at 10am and Yallop will address season ticket holders from 10:30am-12pm. If you’re a STH, sign up and submit a question for the gaffer here.

Here’s what I want to know from Yallop, a former Premier League defender:

Chicago Fire shipped 52 goals in 2013, tied for third most in Major League Soccer. What will you do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?

I’ll be at the meeting with my pen, pad, and Twitter machine. Won’t you come join me?

Scott Fenwick founded On The Fire in 2012 and is its Executive Editor. Scott co-hosts the On The Fire Soccer Radio Podcast, contributes to the Guardian’s (UK) MLS fan previewsThe Cup.usPickles Magazineand is America’s #1 Rapid supporter.

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