After recording 20 losses last year, Chicago Fire management decided they needed a huge roster turnover in the offseason. And what did that roster turnover lead to? Another last-place finish, and an MLS record as first back-to-back Wooden Spoon failures.
Some of the moves in the turnover were really good - like getting Johan Kappelhof and Joao Meira to add defensive stability on the back line. Sadly, the positives basically end there.
Many of the moves, like selling Harry Shipp, were particularly bad. Losing his ball distribution and his ability to switch the play hurt us. Shipp carried a lot of potential to turn into a great player in Chicago, but just like how we got rid of Austin Berry before they were fully developed, Shipp was let go before having a chance to fully blossom. Harry Shipp and Austin Berry both could've developed, and probably could've became a regular starters for the Fire.
Again, these weren’t deals management was forced to make. This was management making the wrong decisions - again. These poor decisions that we make in the offseason have been coming back to bite us down the road. After trading Shipp, the Fire spent all season trying to find someone to keep the ball moving through the middle on the attacking end. Shipp could've played with Polster and filled a void at attacking center midfielder this roster never solved.
Now you must think that after finishing with 20 losses and being dead last in the Eastern Conference, they had to at least not finish last. No other MLS team in history has finished last in the overall table two years in a row. But after getting rid of 16 players and acquiring 19, we still managed to finish bottom of the table. Even Chivas USA never managed to finish with the worst overall record in MLS two years in a row.
It seems like Velko Paunovic made no difference at all, as our defense remained poor and our ability to score goals was even worse. We allowed the same number of goals last year and our goal differential was a league worst -16. To give you an idea how punchless that stat indicates the Fire were, Orlando City had a better goal differential - and they allowed the most goals in MLS with 60.
Again what does this mean? It means that Nelson Rodriguez is failing to put a good team together in the offseason. A good General Manager makes big offseason moves and acquires a few key players. What Nelson did was tear up the roster, rebuild the roster with players he though were “MLS caliber.” Tearing up the roster will never help but if Nelson were to add two or three important players who we can build a team around (sort of like Seattle built a team around Clint Dempsey, or Los Angeles around Robbie Keane), we wouldn't be in last place.
But we all hope that management will finally make the right decisions and that we get the center midfielder and a clinical striker for our team. We all hope for a better next year for the Men In Red. But hope is finite, as is patience. It’s time for these men to get it right.