We’ve mined Football Manager here at Hot Time in the past for content. We used it to simulate the 2018 season, predicting (accurately) that Atlanta United would win the MLS Cup and that the Chicago Fire would finish in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference table. We have also used the game to see how the Fire would fare under other managers.
So what does FM have to say about the upcoming 2019 season? Will the Fire see glory, or be eternally doomed to collect wooden spoons?
Some notes before we dive into this glorified excel spreadsheet,
- The team roster includes all player transactions up to the acquisition of C.J Sapong.
- The database in this sim does not include one of the Fire’s new affiliate member, Lansing Ignite.
- The schedule is different from the official 2019 MLS schedule.
- The revamped MLS Cup Playoff format is not in this database, so there are still two-legged playoff games.
- This is purely for fun, don’t take the results from this sim seriously.
For those yelling on social media that the Fire need to sign a right back to fill in the vacancy left by Matt Polster... well, I have some bad news for you. FM doesn’t think the Fire will sign any defensive players. Despite this, the Fire started their first eight games strong— winning four and drawing four, placing the team 2nd in the Eastern Conference behind the New York Red Bulls and in 4th place in the Supporter’s Shield race (in which Minnesota United surprisingly is leading the pack).
Veljko Paunovic— the version in this FM save— primarily used a 4-2-3-1 formation with Johan Kappelhof filling in as a right back. Even FM knows about Pauno’s meme tactics. But it seemed to work— the Fire conceded relatively few goals.
Przemyslaw Frankowski was injured after the second league game and was placed on the disabled list for the rest of the season— pray that doesn’t happen in real life— so Sapong became his replacement on the wing.
During the summer transfer window, Mo Adams was loaned out to Indy Eleven while the Fire somehow acquired Swiss defender Manuel Akanji from Borussia Dortmund. This came during a bad spell for the Fire, in which they lost eight games from May to July. If a mid-summer collapse sounds all too familiar, well...
On the US Open Cup front, the Fire went all out. On their road to the final, the team dispatched the likes of Minnesota United, Atlanta United, Sporting Kansas City (whom they’ve routed 5-2) and the Houston Dynamo. They beat the Seattle Sounders 3-1 in the final. with goals from Nemanja Nikolic and Jorge Luis Corrales.
Meanwhile, the Fire rebounded from their summer slump and found themselves in a playoff position. The Fire beat the Columbus Crew to face the Montreal Impact in the Eastern Conference semifinals. After making an impact at Montreal (I’m so sorry for that) by goals from Aleksandar Katai and Niko, the Fire faced the Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals... where their MLS Cup dreams were extinguished. The Red Bulls would eventually win the MLS Cup over Minnesota United.
Niko won the golden boot for the season with a staggering 39 league goals (47 goals across all competitions).
Do you feel this simulation is plausible? How do you think the Fire will do this season? Let us know in the comments below.