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Who are the Fire? Part 1 of a 2-Part Story

There are two parts to this story. There is such sweet sorrow in parting and the Chicago Fire have become quite accustomed to it.

This photo taken on May 1, 2010 before a regular season game against Chivas USA features 1 player that is still with the Chicago Fire
This photo taken on May 1, 2010 before a regular season game against Chivas USA features 1 player that is still with the Chicago Fire
David Banks

I posted the most recent update on MLS Carryover Minutes the other day and I have to say I was very disappointed with the results. In August of 2011, I looked at the mess Frank Klopas was going to have to clean up from a slew of recent retirements, departing players, and everything that was Carlos de los Cobos. I felt sorry for him and everyone else involved. I felt so sorry, I titled the article 2011 Chicago Fire: Never had a chance... but don't blame Frank Klopas". My message was the deep numbers of roster turnover suggest at least a year or two was needed before the Chicago Fire could contend again.

I was ready to be patient. I was optimistic even as the players Klopas had helped to bring in weren't panning out. We did start to see some progress in the middle of the summer after de los Cobos was gone. Dominic Oduro became a legitimate goal threat. Dan Gargan appeared to finally solve the team's issue at right back. Sebastian Grazzini and Pavel Pardo really turned things around. Chicago lost to Seattle in the 2011 U.S. Open Cup Final and I was okay with that. Klopas had made a valiant effort with a scrappy team. The Fire were back I thought.

In 2012, the optimism kept rolling. We drafted Austin Berry. Cory Gibbs was healthy. Rafael Robayo, a beloved Colombian club captain, was joining the team. We got Arne Friedrich. We got Chris Rolfe (back!). The Fire were going places. The front office was really putting the pieces together. There were bumps along the road (the team left the U.S. Open Cup very early, Grazzini left under mysterious circumstances, Gibbs went back to being Gibbs, Robayo left for non-mysterious reasons, we wish Federico Puppo never arrived), but overall who could complain as the team went down the home stretch with an outside chance for the Supporters' Shield? Even when the team fizzled out into the play-in playoff match and fizzled out of that game at home, I still felt optimistic things were coming together for the 2013 season.

Well here we are over 2/3 of the way through the season and I feel like the Chicago Fire are back to 2010 and 2011 where Fire fans break out the remaining opposition schedules and calculators to figure out the math of making the playoffs. It doesn't look good. And building to something better? The Fire have a worse Carryover Minutes number this year than they did last year. How did this happen? What does the future look like for the Fire? Is this an unfortunate setback on the road to power or is this what we should expect in MLS? Why don't we do a little comparison?

My favorite game at Toyota Park was the 2009 Eastern Conference Semi-Final vs. New England. Cuauhtemoc Blanco scored the clinching aggregate goal in the 83rd minute and the sold-out crowd went absolutely ballistic. Ask any regular who was there and they will tell you it was the loudest they've ever heard Toyota Park.

My least favorite game was the 2009 Eastern Conference Final vs. Real Salt Lake. Chicago entered the game as heavy favorites only to lose in penalty kicks as I stood in Section 8 and watched it go down right in front of my own eyes. I didn't realize it at the time but Salt Lake City had put together what it needed to become a MLS juggernaut. They would win the MLS Cup that year and they would continue to be one of the best teams in the league ever since. Let's compare Chicago's MLS Carryover Minutes to Salt Lake's MLS Carryover Minutes season by season since 2009. Besides the 2013 Carryover Minutes chart, players that are bolded in the charts throughout this piece are currently with their respective team.

REAL SALT LAKE 2009-2013 AS OF AUGUST 29, 2013

2009 Returning Player POS MINS
2009 New Player POS MINS
Nat Borchers D 2679
Ned Grabavoy M 765
Chris Wingert D 2432
Pablo Campos F 400
Will Johnson M 2305
Raphael Cox M 208
Nick Rimando GK 2285
Rachid El Khalifi M-F 178
Kyle Beckerman M 2218
Luis Miguel Escalada F 126
Javier Morales M 2076
Jean Alexandre F 99
Jamison Olave D 2039
Total New Minutes
Clint Mathis M 1926

Tony Beltran D 1860

Robbie Findley F 1751

Yura Movsisyan F 1731

Robbie Russell D 1552

Fabian Espindola F 1511

Andy Williams M 780

Chris Seitz GK 360

David Horst D 86

Kyle Reynish GK 55

Tino Nunez F 18

Ian Joy D 7

Total Returning Minutes 27671

2009 Carryover Minutes % 0.94

2010 Returning Player POS MINS
2010 New Player POS MINS
Nat Borchers D 2673
Alvaro Saborio F 1988
Nick Rimando GK 2430
Collen Warner M 426
Jamison Olave D 2413
Rauwshan McKenzie D 224
Will Johnson M 2184
Chris Schuler D 90
Javier Morales M 2163
Paulo Junior F 65
Chris Wingert D 1985
Total New Minutes
Robbie Russell D 1915

Andy Williams M 1862

Kyle Beckerman M 1830

Ned Grabavoy M 1562

Fabian Espindola F 1514

Tony Beltran D 1493

Robbie Findley F 1355

Jean Alexandre F 494

Pablo Campos F 434

Nelson Gonzalez M 330

Kyle Reynish GK 270

Total Returning Minutes 26907

2010 Carryover Minutes % 0.91

2011 Returning Player POS MINS
2011 New Player POS MINS
Nick Rimando GK 2970
Arturo Alvarez M 724
Nat Borchers D 2547
Yordany Alvarez M 419
Kyle Beckerman M 2423
Artur Aghasyan F 98
Jamison Olave D 2128
Cody Arnoux M 69
Fabian Espindola F 2096
Blake Wagner D-M 63
Will Johnson M 2059
Chris Agorsor F 10
Andy Williams M 1970
Total New Minutes
Alvaro Saborio F 1928

Chris Wingert D 1915

Ned Grabavoy M 1899

Robbie Russell D 1809

Tony Beltran D 1731

Chris Schuler D 1638

Luis Gil M 1288

Collen Warner M 1106

Javier Morales M 785

Jean Alexandre F 703

Paulo Junior F 468

Rauwshan McKenzie D 180

Nelson Gonzalez M 174

Kyle Reynish GK 90

Total Returning Minutes 31907

2011 Carryover Minutes % 0.96

2012 Player POS MINS
2012 New Player POS MINS
Tony Beltran D 2857
Jonny Steele M 1179
Nick Rimando GK 2790
Kwame Watson-Siriboe D 918
Chris Wingert D 2603
Sebastian Velasquez M 403
Kyle Beckerman M 2592
Abdoulie Mansally D 364
Alvaro Saborio F 2390
Terakazu Tanaka D 325
Nat Borchers D 2340
Emiliano Bonfigli F 288
Fabian Espindola F 2293
Justin Braun F 87
Javier Morales M 2119
David Viana M 27
Will Johnson M 2087
Total New Minutes

Ned Grabavoy M 1946

Jamison Olave D 1734

Luis Gil M 1610

Chris Schuler D 944

Paulo Junior F 848

Yordany Alvarez M 500

Kyle Reynish GK 270

Total Returning Minutes 29923

2012 Carryover Minutes % 0.89

2013 Returning Player POS MINS
2013 New Player POS MINS
Ned Grabavoy M 2130
Joao Plata F 1336
Nat Borchers D 1980
Lovel Palmer D 940
Nick Rimando GK 1890
Olmes Garcia F 832
Javier Morales M 1885
Carlos Salcedo D 811
Tony Beltran D 1789
Khari Stephenson M 718
Kyle Beckerman M 1741
Devon Sandoval F 704
Luis Gil M 1552
Jeff Attinella GK 309
Chris Wingert D 1285
Aaron Maund D 270
Chris Schuler D 1080
Josh Saunders GK 231
Robbie Findley F 1041
Brandon McDonald D 180
Alvaro Saborio F 991
Cole Grossman M 88
Sebastian Velasquez M 784
John Stertzer M 33
Yordany Alvarez M 747
Rich Balchan D 0
Abdoulie Mansally D 669
Total New Minutes
Kwame Watson-Siriboe D 630

David Viana M 0

Eduardo Fernandez GK 0

Enzo Martinez M 0

Total Returning Minutes 20194

2013 Carryover Minutes % 76%

CHICAGO FIRE 2009-2013 AS OF AUGUST 29, 2013

2009 Returning Player POS MINS
2009 New Player POS MINS
Jon Busch GK 2700
Tim Ward D 1685
Marco Pappa M 2314
Baggio Husidic M 449
Logan Pause M 2287
Stefan Dimitrov F 124
Patrick Nyarko M 1983
Total New Minutes

Brian McBride F 1963

Chris Rolfe F 1854

Wilman Conde D 1614

John Thorrington M 1574

C.J. Brown D 1454

Cuauhtemoc Blanco F 1452

Brandon Prideaux D 1414

Bakary Soumare D 1364

Justin Mapp M 1013

Gonzalo Segares D 965

Mike Banner D 942

Dasan Robinson D 908

Peter Lowry M 659

Daniel Woolard D 409

Austin Washington D 360

Calen Carr F 90

Total Returning Minutes 27319

2009 Carryover Minutes % 0.92

2010 Returning Player POS MINS
2010 New Player POS MINS
C.J. Brown D 2340
Krzysztof Krol D 1565
Logan Pause M 2258
Freddie Ljungberg M-F 1200
Patrick Nyarko M 2068
Sean Johnson GK 1170
Wilman Conde D 2019
Steven Kinney D 963
Marco Pappa M 1961
Collins John F 901
Brian McBride F 1604
Bratislav Ristic D 692
Andrew Dykstra GK 1530
Kwame Watson-Siriboe D 681
Baggio Husidic M 1498
Deris Umanzor D 502
Dasan Robinson D 1369
Nery Castillo F 487
Mike Banner D-M 1019
Corben Bone M 114
Peter Lowry M 1004
Julio Martinez M 108
Justin Mapp M 552
Total New Minutes
Calen Carr F 538

Tim Ward D 535

Gonzalo Segares D 439

John Thorrington M 397

Stefan Dimitrov F 67

Total Returning Minutes 21198

2010 Carryover Minutes % 0.72

2011 Returning Player POS MINS
2011 New Player POS MINS
Gonzalo Segares D 2950
Dominic Oduro F 2604
Sean Johnson GK 2520
Jalil Anibaba D 2508
Logan Pause M 2514
Cory Gibbs D 2203
Marco Pappa M 2324
Diego Chaves F 1699
Patrick Nyarko M 2266
Yamith Cuesta D 1681
Baggio Husidic M 794
Daniel Paladini M 1491
Orr Barouch F 624
Pavel Pardo M 1047
Corben Bone M 534
Josip Mikulic D 1038
Bratislav Ristic D-M 413
Gaston Puerari F 808
Dasan Robinson D 248
Dan Gargan D 785
Total Returning Minutes 15187
Sebastian Grazzini M 780

Cristian Nazarit F 624

Jon Conway GK 540

Michael Videira D-M 493

Davis Paul M 45

Marko Maric M 19

Gabriel Ferrari F 17

Total New Minutes

2011 Carryover Minutes % 0.45

2012 Returning Player POS MINS
2012 New Player POS MINS
Jalil Anibaba D 2868
Austin Berry D 2520
Sean Johnson GK 2766
Arne Friedrich D 1832
Patrick Nyarko M-F 2756
Chris Rolfe F 1760
Gonzalo Segares D 2682
Sherjill MacDonald F 1033
Logan Pause M 2424
Alvaro Fernandez M 943
Pavel Pardo M 2386
Alex M 705
Dominic Oduro F 1823
Rafael Robayo M 439
Dan Gargan D 1754
Paolo Tornaghi GK 270
Marco Pappa M 1615
Orr Barouch F 224
Sebastian Grazzini M 1103
Federico Puppo F 216
Daniel Paladini M 691
Wells Thompson D-M 65
Cory Gibbs D 270
Hunter Jumper D 48
Michael Videira D-M 40
Guillermo Franco F 43
Corben Bone M 26
Total New Minutes
Total Returning Minutes 23204

2012 Carryover Minutes % 0.70

2013 Returning Player POS MINS
2013 New Player POS MINS
Austin Berry D 2160
Jeff Larentowicz M 1997
Jalil Anibaba D 2160
Joel Lindpere M 1350
Gonzalo Segares D 1980
Dilly Duka M 1216
Chris Rolfe F-M 1719
Bakary Soumare D 1170
Sean Johnson GK 1620
Mike Magee M 1054
Patrick Nyarko M 1554
Maicon Santos F 379
Alex M 1023
Quincy Amarikwa F 207
Daniel Paladini M 785
Arevalo Rios M 180
Logan Pause M 759
Juan Luis Anangono F 161
Sherjill MacDonald F 579
Shaun Francis D 90
Paolo Tornaghi GK 540
Yazid Atouba Emane M 55
Wells Thompson D 520
Total New Minutes
Steven Kinney D 180

Hunter Jumper D 180

Michael Videira M 84

Corben Bone M 3

Total Returning Minutes 15846

2013 Carryover Minutes % 0.67

To get away from the year-by-year comparison and into a big picture perspective, I've added all of the minutes played by every player that put on a Chicago Fire or Real Salt Lake jersey between 2009-2013.


Chicago Fire Player MINS Acquired Method Real Salt Lake Player MINS Acquired Method
Patrick Nyarko 10290 SuperDraft Nick Rimando 12275 Trade
Logan Pause 10242 SuperDraft Nat Borchers 12219 Allocation Lottery
Gonzalo Segares 8656 SuperDraft Kyle Beckerman 10804 Trade
Marco Pappa 8214 International Chris Wingert 10220 Trade
Sean Johnson 8076 SuperDraft Tony Beltran 9730 SuperDraft
Jalil Anibaba 7536 SuperDraft Javier Morales 9028 International
Chris Rolfe 5333 SuperDraft Will Johnson 8635 Trade
Dominic Oduro 4427 SuperDraft Jamison Olave 8314 International
Austin Berry 4230 SuperDraft Ned Grabavoy 8302 Waivers
C.J. Brown 3794 SuperDraft Fabian Espindola 7414 International
Wilman Conde 3633 International Alvaro Saborio 7297 International
Brian McBride 3567 Rights Trade Robbie Russell 5959 International
Pavel Pardo 3343 International Andy Williams 4612 Expansion Draft
Daniel Paladini 2967 Lower League Luis Gil 4450 Trade
Baggio Husidic 2741 SuperDraft Robbie Findley 4147 Trade
Jon Busch 2700 Waived Chris Schuler 3752 SuperDraft
Dan Gargan 2539 Trade Clint Mathis 1926 Rights Trade
Bakary Soumare 2534 SuperDraft Yura Movsisyan 1731 Trade
Dasan Robinson 2525 SuperDraft Yordany Alvarez 1666 Lower League
Cory Gibbs 2473 Re-Entry Draft Kwame Watson-Siriboe 1548 Trade
Tim Ward 2220 Waived Collen Warner 1532 SuperDraft
Jeff Larentowicz 1997 Trade Paulo Junior 1381 Lower League
John Thorrington 1971 International Joao Plata 1336 Trade
Mike Banner 1961 SuperDraft Jean Alexandre 1296 SuperDraft
Sebastian Grazzini 1883 International Sebastian Velasquez 1187 SuperDraft
Arne Friedrich 1832 International Jonny Steele 1179 Unsigned Trialist
Diego Chaves 1699 International Abdoulie Mansally 1033 Unsigned Trialist
Yamith Cuesta 1681 Trade Lovel Palmer 940 Re-Entry Draft
Alex 1663 International Pablo Campos 834 Trade
Peter Lowry 1663 SuperDraft Olmes Garcia 832 International
Sherjill MacDonald 1612 International Carlos Salcedo 811 Homegrown
Justin Mapp 1565 Trade Arturo Alvarez 724 Trade
Krzysztof Krol 1565 International Devon Sandoval 704 SuperDraft
Andrew Dykstra 1530 Unsigned Trialist Kyle Reynish 685 SuperDraft
Cuauhtemoc Blanco 1452 International Khari Stephenson 656 Unsigned Trialist
Brandon Prideaux 1414 Waived Nelson Gonzalez 504 International
Joel Lindpere 1350 Trade Rauwshan McKenzie 404 Waivers
Dilly Duka 1216 Trade Chris Seitz 360 SuperDraft
Freddie Ljungberg 1200 Trade Terakazu Tanaka 325 International
Steven Kinney 1143 SuperDraft Jeff Attinella 309 SuperDraft
Bratislav Ristic 1105 International Emiliano Bonfigli 288 SuperDraft
Mike Magee 1054 Rights Trade Aaron Maund 270 SuperDraft
Josip Mikulic 1038 International Josh Saunders 231 Unsigned Trialist
Alvaro Fernandez 943 Trade Raphael Cox 208 SuperDraft
Collins John 901 International Brandon McDonald 180 Trade
Orr Barouch 848 International Rachid El Khalifi 178 International
Paolo Tornaghi 810 International Luis Miguel Escalada 126 International
Gaston Puerari 808 International Artur Aghasyan 98 Lower League
Kwame Watson-Siriboe 681 SuperDraft Justin Braun 87 Trade
Corben Bone 677 SuperDraft David Horst 86 SuperDraft
Calen Carr 628 SuperDraft Cole Grossman 77 Waivers
Cristian Nazarit 624 International Cody Arnoux 69 Allocation Lottery
Michael Videira 617 Lower League Blake Wagner 63 Waivers
Wells Thompson 585 Trade John Stertzer 33 SuperDraft
Jon Conway 540 Trade David Viana 27 International
Deris Umanzor 502 International Tino Nunez 18 SuperDraft
Nery Castillo 487 International Chris Agorsor 10 Waivers
Rafael Robayo 439 International Ian Joy 7 International
Daniel Woolard 409 SuperDraft

Maicon Santos 379 Re-Entry Draft

Hunter Jumper 228 SuperDraft

Federico Puppo 216 International

Quincy Amarikwa 207 Trade

Stefan Dimitrov 191 Unsigned Trialist

Arevalo Rios 180 International

Juan Luis Anangono 161 International

Julio Martinez 108 International

Shaun Francis 90 International

Yazmid Atouba 55 SuperDraft

Davis Paul 45 SuperDraft

Guillermo Franco 43 International

Marko Maric 19 International

Gabriel Ferrari 17 Unsigned Trialist

A couple of things strike out at me. Real Salt Lake has done a very good job of keeping the same core of players. You even have 1-11 on somewhat of their own level (Rimando through Saborio), players 12-16 (Russell through Schuler) are on a second level, and then after that you slowly go down a list of players that contributed a great deal in one season or were minor contributors for a couple of seasons. Real Salt Lake built their team through a hodgepodge of trades, draft picks, international signings, a little luck with some lotteries, even picking up players off waivers.

The Chicago Fire have built their backbone almost entirely from products of the SuperDraft. They have had mixed success in the other areas of acquisition with no long-term contributors. Their player list has no pattern other than dropping lower and lower in minutes played.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out the fact that the Fire drafted Kwame Watson-Siriboe 26th overall in the 2010 SuperDraft. Watson-Siriboe played 681 minutes for the Fire in 2010 before being permanently benched. C.J. Brown pushed for Real Salt Lake to acquire Watson-Siriboe and the Fire traded the young American player for a late pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. Watson-Siriboe was recently injured but he has put in more minutes for RSL in less time than he was with Chicago.

Is a move like this part of a bad pattern for Chicago and a good pattern for Real Salt Lake? We'll break down the teams' moves by acquisition method in the second part of this story.