OTF Roundtable: Chicago Fire Week 12
It’s still early, but the Roundtable ponders a question many answered before First Kick…
Eleven games in, at 2-3-6 and looking at the roster, is 2014 already a rebuilding year for Chicago Fire?
There are not many positives to take away from this season, so far. Two wins and a lot of draws in eleven games is not good enough, at all.
In times of despair, many put the blame on the manager’s shoulders. This is not the case with the Fire. Frank Yallop is doing the best he can with the mess that was left for him. There are some tactical changes Yallop could make, but overall this club’s problem is a lack of quality in the roster. There is talent, but there are many missing pieces. So, is this a rebuilding year?
I truly believe this season was meant for rebuilding. Yallop has done what many have asked and played the kids. At this point, Harry Shipp seems like a blinding choice for rookie of the year. He is clearly the most dynamic and creative presence Chicago has in the middle of the park. That said, Benji Joya has been fantastic when played at his natural position — box to box midfielder.
If Yallop is able to keep Joya and young Englishman Grant Ward for next season, this club will move in a positive direction. Fans have called for an exciting Designated Player, but the wage bill must be cut further to make that happen. This season is all about the youth movement and their progression. It is very much a rebuilding year.
Roberto Diaz is on vacation this week.
The Fire has played 11 games (about one-third of a season), and I can’t call this a rebuilding year. Admittedly, it’s been another bad start of the season for the Men in Red. Eleven games into the season and the Fire have accumulated only 12 points. However, with the parity in MLS, teams are never too far from clawing their way back into the playoff scramble. While it’s too early to mention playoffs, I should note the Fire are only 4 points from the playoff red line, with a game in hand.
As I recall last season, despite their early season woes, the Fire missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker. I think we can agree the defense shoulders the responsibility for the lack of results these past two seasons. New faces were added to the team this season, and Yallop’s tried adjustments, but the same tired plot line keeps popping up.
While I don’t consider 2014 a rebuilding year, I do think there is a need to seriously consider looking at some new center backs once the transfer market opens.
It is amazing how much things can change with one 90 minute performance. After back to back wins, I thought maybe, just maybe, the Fire could get back in the playoff picture. However, after the 90 minute shit show at Columbus Saturday night, the question should not be “Is this a rebuilding season,” but rather, “How do you blow it up?”
The Fire’s problem is they are not in a position to truly rebuild. A lot of their roster is made up of guys around 30 nearing the peak of their careers. Unfortunately, these guys do not have the talent to propel an MLS team to win. So, to truly rebuild, the Fire would have to dump a lot of mid-level players, which makes up most of their roster.
I’d see what kind of young talent is out there, and dump some of the spare parts. This means dropping Soumare (if there is a sucker out there), Palmer, Ianni , Nyarko, and Segares, to name a few. Another two who are younger, but may have peaked, are Sean Johnson (very little progression in his development over five years) and Quincy Amarikwa (an opportunistic striker who falls if the wind is right).
The veterans I would keep are Big Red, Magic Mike, and Logan Pause. They can help develop the right attitude and work ethic this team needs to succeed.
It’s time to see what the team has in guys like Orr Barouch (22), Steve Kinney (26, but never healthy), Hunter Jumper (25), Dilly Duka (24), and Victor Pineda (21). Running these guys out with Cochrane, Shipp, and Joya might be the only reason to continue watching this season.
At best, the current roster is mediocre at best. At worst, like Saturday night, they are bottom of the league.
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