With the start of the start of the 2013 drawing nigh, various websites have been putting out season previews. I have compiled a few quotes on what some of these previews have to say about the Chicago Fire and the upcoming season.
SoccerNightExclusive - Anthony Bedworth over at SoccerNight exclusive is doing a three part season preview. A lot of the post recaps the 2012 season, but he offers a few opinions on each team for the up coming 2013 season:
Weaknesses: The trade to let Dominic Oduro leave has bemused soccer fans. Even though only starting 21 of his 33 games, the trade to bring in Dilly Duka was confusing to say the least. The departure of the Ghanaian has left Chicago Fire without any real pace in the side. Exceptions for Nyarko who is capable of fulfilling Oduro’s rocket shoes, the Fire look very lacklustre on someone who plays on the shoulder. That extra option, that extra pace, that extra attacking threat removed is a gamble.
I know there were some Fire fans who were sad to see Oduro leave, but I'm not sure many fans were bemused. Oduro's pace will definitely be missed. I was not Oduro's biggest fan, but it was fun to see him get subbed into games late when defenders were tired. His assist against Houston in September is a great example of that:
MLS TALK - Drew Farmer wrote a piece that is not specifically a preview, but he sums up where all of the teams stand after this off season. Drew even goes through and grades how each team did and the Fire got a "B+". I'm not sure what the grading rubric was, but I think that Drew is about spot on with how the Fire have done this off season. The Fire did well this off season, but they did not do anything amazing to earn an "A". Here is what Drew had to say about the Fire:
Chicago Fire: The Fire made the playoffs in 2012, but was smoked by eventual Eastern Conference winners Houston. Chicago has added quality in key areas with the signing of Joel Lindpere and Jeff Larentowicz, two of the most underrated players in MLS. The defense was good last year giving up a mere 41 goals, second best in the east behind Sporting. Only five players were added, however, with four being midfielders. Grade: B+
The MLS Talk podcast also released their 2013 preview episode earlier this week. They go in alphabetical order, so the preview for Chicago (the only part most of us care to listen to) is first.
WVHooligan - Drew Epperly is taking on the arduous task of writing a preview piece for each team. From what I've read on his preview of the Fire, he seems to have a pretty good bead on the team. He also made a prediction that I think some of us would like to see come true:
Breakout Player for 2013
Corben Bone – will this finally be his year to shine? I think we’ll finally get to see what some have thought all along about this guy.
I have not watched a whole lot of preseason, but from what I saw on Monday, Bone had some good moments. Ryan mentioned in a previous article about how lucky we are that Patrick Nyarko takes a beating each match and still keeps going. I'd like to think that Bone would be first in line to give Nyarko a rest. However, Yazid Atouba could also step in for Nyarko.
Fox News - Not sure who wrote this, but it's a bit like Anthony's piece at SoccerNightExpress - mostly reviewing 2012 with some thoughts on 2013 added at the end.
In the trade, Chicago acquired midfielder Dilly Duka...In addition to Duka, Klopas was able to bring in both Joel Lindpere and Jeff Larentowicz. How quickly those two are able to jell in midfield could be key to the early- season success of the club.
Early season success would be nice, but I don't think it's crucial. The MLS season is long enough for any team with a slow start to still be in the thick of things come playoff time. I think a lot of fans are feeling good about the Fire right now (I am one of them), but we are still only in preseason. The team might struggle at first when matches start to count for something. It always takes some time for new teammates to adjust, and, with away trips to Los Angeles, Kansas City and Houston early on, the season could get off to a rough start, and Chicago might not be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference heading into May. If that's what happens early on, I won't panic.
MLSsoccer.com - Yes, the main site is rolling out their previews over the next couple of days. The 2013 season preview for the Fire will be out on Tuesday, February 26th. I recall the main site putting up short season preview videos in 2012 that were kind of like short documentaries with player interviews and stuff. They were really interesting to watch. This year it looks like the preview videos (called "Scouting Reports") are just Matt Doyle and Daniel Haiek talking about teams. Still, these previews are really fun as there is an article that specifically previews 2013 for each team along with an article that breaks down the depth chart and then links to some past articles like an OPTA stats article on midfield passing.
This is unrelated to the previews, but the MLSsoccer.com website has a few recent articles on the Chicago Fire that are worth a read:
- His Own Worst Enemy: Fire's MacDonald recalibrate sights - It's a good read with a painful to watch video clip embedded in it.
- Kick Off: Guzan hints at future MLS move, has eyes on Fire - This is obviously a few years down the road, but I would love to see him between the posts for the Fire.
- Chicago "definitely want to keep" Cameroonian Atouba - Yes we do.