>Thursday Lunch Special: MLS Team Preview – Chicago Fire SC

Posted: March 3, 2011 in mls
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

>By Evan Ream, with help from the Intern

Last Year: 9-12-9 36 points, 4th in East, 10th overall
 
Key Losses: C.J. Brown, Brian McBride, John Thorrington, Wilman Conde, Freddie Ljungberg
 
Key Additions: Cory Gibbs, Jalil Anibaba, Gatson Puerari, Diego Chaves
 
Projected Starting XI: Maybe I’m missing something here, but I feel like this team didn’t do a good enough job to replace their glaring needs at forward and midfield in the offseason. With Sean Johnson, they have the best young keeper in the league, and they may have the most athletic and fastest defense in the league this year, but they are very unsettled in the midfield and up top. Before I get to that though, I want to talk about the defense. Gonzalo Segares, aka Broken Lizard’s Steve Lemme, was one of the top left backs in MLS (not saying much) before he left to play in Cypress (why?). Cory Gibbs has always had his injury problems, but when healthy he is one of the few defenders in the league that is both strong in the air and fast on the ground. Dasan Robinson has always been that super athletic guy that has no idea what to do with his incredible speed. The player I am excited about however is Davis, Calif.’s own Jalil Anibaba. Jalil was something else when I watched him play in high school, but I never figured he would be able to make it all the way to MLS, just because I had never seen anyone in my life do that before. Jalil has been earning amazing reviews from nearly ever pundit including former center back Alexi Lalas. Anibaba was the combine’s MVP and a player many are talking about being an early contender for Rookie of the Year; if only the rest of Chicago’s team could be met with this much excitement. In the midfield, Marco Pappa is a legitimate star, but he can be very inconsistent and mail in games if things aren’t going the right way. Their central midfield duo can best be described as “okay.” I have never been a Logan Pause fan, but he is serviceable. Baggio Husidic will score some goals but not really do much else. They are really weak at right midfield where Bratislav Ristic seems to be their only option despite the fact that he has just one goal in over ten years of professional soccer. Up top, they are even worse. I have no idea if either of the Uruguayan’s will make any sort of impact but for now, their starters in Nyarko and Carr are both players that don’t excel at scoring goals. Nyarko is a great setup man, but he is not good if he is your first scoring option while Carr is best used off the bench to try to get a late goal. In all, they have many issues, and Carlos De Los Cobos will need to solve them if he is going to keep his job.
 

Patrick Nyarko          Calen Carr
 
Marco Pappa          Baggio Husidic          Logan Pause          Bratislav Ristic
 
Gonzalo Segares          Cory Gibbs          Jalil Anibaba          Dasan Robinson
 
Sean Johnson

 
Prognosis: Much like Chivas USA, this team looks to have an excellent defense, but they will ultimately be undone by their lack of midfield and forward options. Jalil Anibaba should be one of the breakout players in MLS this year and definitely a finalist for Rookie of the Year, but most of the other players on the team will fail to live up to his high standard. Unless one of their new Uruguayan players can score some goals and Logan Pause suddenly becomes Shalrie Joseph, this team is headed for a bottom four finish. Not so bold prediction: Carlos De Los Cobos will be the first coach fired this year.
 
The Intern’s Take: Chicago will struggle to finish above or even at the same spot as last season. Simply put, they lost too many influential players at crucial positions during the offseason, such as Freddie Ljungberg, Wilman Conde, and Brian McBride, and will struggle to make up for the losses. For me, Sean Johnson is the most exciting keeper to watch, and despite his youth, he has the ability to single handedly keep his team games, which he proved with his incredible performance against New York last season. Although the game finished 0-0, Johnson earned that point for the Fire, by preventing several great NYRB scoring chances and not allowing New York to win by three or four goals which they probably should have. The defense is all right, but if TSL’s projected lineup is correct, expect some mistakes as the two new center backs adjust to playing with each other and their new teammates. Marco Pappa is a decent enough midfielder and Logan Pause should be able to hold his own in the midfield as well. The big question for the Fire this year is how deadly their forwards will be. Calen Carr doesn’t have the best scoring rate, and Nyarko, who looks like a starter up top at this point is probably more of a midfield player rather than a true forward. If the new Uruguayan acquisitions Gaston Puerari and Diego Chaves can make a significant impact for Chicago, allowing Nyarko to fall back and provide service from the midfield, this season may not be quite as bad for Chicago as many are predicting, but it remains to be seen how these players will transition from the Uruguayan First Division to MLS.

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Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    >You didn't watch games last year did you?Nyarko played almost exclusively as a right wing and was arguably the team's best player behind perhaps only Marco Pappa.Never known Dasan Robinson described as having "incredible speed". This is a pretty lame attempt at a preview, fraudulent in my book.

  2. >Nyarko played on the wing last year because they had other forward options such as Brian McBride and though they didn't do anything, Collins John and Nery Castillo. Nyarko's natural position is forward and with Chicago's dearth of forwards one would expect that he would naturally step into that role. Pappa was definitely good last year, but I don't like his inconsistency; he tends to check out of games when things aren't going right. As for Robinson's speed, whenever I have watched him play he seems to be the fastest player on the field, though maybe he just looks this way because he is always making up for being out of position. Thank you for your opinions.

  3. Anonymous says:

    >Going to a 3-5-2 will dictates production from the midfielder core attacking thru numbers. Scoring with this formation takes chemistry and my concern is this team has been in flux for 60 days without same groups playing together on the field at same time nor successful. Look for still major changes to this lineup as several new players can be interchanged to combine in this line. The mix is more inportant than the ingrediants.

  4. >I agree that there will be some changes (particularly the head coach), but I don't think that you can play a 3-5-2 full time in MLS anymore. The last team to do it was New England and the only reason they could was that their midfield Included Shalrie Joseph, Jeff Larentowicz, Steve Ralston, Andy Dorman, and Clint Dempsey. They played a 3-5-2 to overwhelm people with their great midfield while still relying on Michael Parkhurst to clean everything up. Chicago could try it, but they are going to get nothing done with their midfield options; it just wouldn't be viable.

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