In the third of our Writers' Roundtable preseason series, we go even further along the gonzo fantasy track in a question designed to involve both current roster analysis and Fire history. Today's question:
"Given a one-time magical ability to do so, which player from Fire history would you add to the current roster and why?"
Now, since we're going to restrict use of this ability to players from Fire history, they would join the 2014 Fire at the same age they joined CF97 in real life - so Blanco would be 34, Peter Nowak 33, and so on. Besides that, it's open season.
Anthony Seymour: Cuauhtémoc Blanco
As a relatively recent fan to the MLS, following the club only over the last 4 seasons, I did not have the first hand experience with many of the players I was considering. After much deliberation and thoughtful consideration I decided to focus less on what a player could bring on the pitch and instead what a player could bring to the organization in general. For that reason I selected Cuauhtémoc Blanco Bravo.
Sure, Blanco would be a great addition to any club at the age he initially came to the Fire, and would surely bring additional legitimacy to the attack. He scored 16 goals while with the Fire and was by all accounts enjoyable to watch. He was a finalist for the MVP and Newcomer of the Year and was without a doubt a difference maker for the Fire. However, I think it is what Blanco would bring off the field that would have the largest impact on the Fire as an organization.
When Blanco first came to Fire, 5,000 fans were present to welcome him to Toyota Park. Blanco energized Mexican-American Chicagoans and filled up seats at Toyota Park week in and week out during his time with the Fire. The Fire desperately needs to fill up seats at Toyota Park, and Blanco would be an excellent catalyst to improve ticket sales in the Latino community. Most fans have heard that Sector Latino is fighting for its life to sell enough seats to keep the section. I believe a Blanco return would help that goal come to fruition.
Ryan Sealock: Temo Blanco otra vez!
I would pick one of the biggest fan favorites in Fire history- Cuauhtémoc Blanco. He was adored by the fans, and had the play on the pitch to dazzle. Fire fans would salivate for another player like that in midfield. He's also the last real homerun in terms of international players that have succeeded in Chicago. While recent years have seen mostly misses and few hits on the international market, Blanco was everything that fans had hoped for.
While the debate still rages about winning with big name players/DP's, it's clear that Blanco also helped the team in the merchandise and attendance areas as well due to his time in Chicago. And that's yet another couple of areas that have suffered the past couple of years in Bridgeview. Blanco brought so many intangibles with him to Chicago, and it's my hope we can acquire another player even close to the level he brought sooner rather than later. Or that one of the kids develops into a player like this.
John Jenzeh: Lubos Kubik
I'm going with Lubos Kubik with my pick. Stick him in defense or in midfield, and you have a dangerous attacking player who can also defend. The squad makeup right now is perfect for a player who can play at the back or in midfield. When a sub is brought on he can be shifted to numerous positions. Obviously he was a huge part of the Fire's early success, and if he were in his prime today, he would still fit in very well in MLS.
Adam Merges: Ante Razov
When I first thought of a former Fire player to add to the current roster the first name that popped into my head was Dipsy Selolwane, but then I thought of a serious answer. The player that I would go with is Ante Razov. Since Ante left back in 2004 the Fire were desperately looking for that striker to take over the role of being a consistent scorer. I consider Razov as well as Armas, to be steals when Wilt nabbed both of them from the LA Galaxy back when the team first started. At the time Razov was only 23 and went on to score 95 goals and 52 assists for the Fire. Razov would fit perfectly into Yallop's formation and could be productive for the club. He was the perfect #9 for this club and if magically we could add him again I would in a heartbeat.
Ruben Tisch: Damani Ralph
Damani Ralph. Because while he was here, and if he didn't leave, he was showing he was the next great Chicago striker.
Dan Paulmeyer: Damarcus Beasley
I'm going to try to think outside of the box on this one and bring back DaMarcus Beasley. I would slot him in at the left midfield and let him terrorize right backs for years. His speed would cause problems for any player in the MLS. I also get the goosebumps when I think about the service that he would provide for Magee, Gentile and Anangono. There are not many great left foots in the league. You can find a forward, a defender and a midfielder. A constant, speedy left footed player is a rare thing. He played on the Fire from 2000-2004 so we would get the 18-year-old DaMarcus Beasley who eventually was a replacement for Arjen Robben at PSV. Yes please.
Sean Spence: Chris Armas
I'd summon 25-year-old Chris Armas with our limited-use time machine. The formation the Fire seem intent on playing this year hands a tremendous amount of responsibility to the defensive midfielder - his is the mind making decisions about pressure, marking and shape in real time, all while being the first line of defense to stuff out nascent counters and outlets in the middle.. No offense to the current lineup, but no one in CF97 history has offered the combination of leadership, intelligence, passing range and tackling bite that Armas did.
No one picked Nowak?! Who would you add?