It’s been a strange month as a Chicago Fire fan.
On the one hand, the overall position the team is in is fitting, both on and off the field. They were finally knocked out of the playoff race when they lost to NYCFC, rendering the forward momentum built up last year moot.
At the same time, on a game by game basis, the Fire have been playing well! They have a record of 2-1-1 in September. A draw on the worst artificial turf in the league vs the Revolution in Foxboro and two wins at home against Orlando City and LAFC. They’ve scored nine goals in four games and have given up only four— at least two of witch were, or should have been, MLS Goal of the Week nominees. Djordje Mihailovic had his coming out party and made his case as the possible future of the club.
I realize that this season, between the war with the Front Office and the disappointing results on the field, this Fire season is exhausting. This positivity is easy to dismiss or ignore, but we shouldn’t. The XI on the field are still giving us their effort, even with no silverware to play for. They should be praised for it.
All that said, I can’t help but think that all this positivity is dangerous. I’m scared that seeing this good stuff from the squad will mean that not much will change this offseason. The Front Office is very much capable of saying, “the end of the season showed the potential of this roster is high so we feel that we don’t need to make any sweeping changes.” That’s my biggest fear for the winter.
Despite the emergence of Mihailovic, the team needs a real playmaker. And despite how good Stefan Cleveland has been in his appearances, I still want a veteran presence between the sticks, if only as to take some pressure the kid. Plus, the backline still needs some work, especially at central defense. Deploying fullbacks and central midfielders as centerbacks has been a recurring pattern with this team for several seasons and it almost never works out. Jeff Larentowicz is not a centerback. Neither is Brandon Vincent. Nor is Bastian Schweinsteiger. This has got to stop. Buy good centerbacks.
I’m nervous about this offseason, and I don’t trust this Front Office. But I like watching this team play soccer, and want them to have good results. I don’t really know how to feel. Seeing the team play well down the stretch bodes well. You always want to finish strong. But I feel uneasy about the FO seeing these results and giving in to complacency.
Being a Fire fan stinks sometimes.