The last two years of Chicago Fire soccer have been all about Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty. When they’re firing on all cylinders we’ve seen positive things from the Fire, but when they’re off their game the Fire see a significant drop off in the team’s play.
One of the things I’ll be watching for in 2019 is who steps up and helps carry the weight. This isn’t a matter of who will be the Fire’s best player, it’s a matter of who will begin to grow into a leadership role to take over once McCarty and Schweinsteiger are gone.
So, who’s it gonna be?
Next Man Up: Aleksandar Katai, Johan Kappelhof
Katai and Kappelhof are two guys that may have it thrust upon them if they are still around in the next era.
The thing is, neither of them have shown any type of leadership skills in their time here. They are both good at what they do, but Katai can go through stretches where he looks disinterested and Kappelhof just seems like the quiet type.
If they were to take up the mantle they would need to do more than lead by example.
Unknowns: Przemysław Frankowski, Marcelo
We don’t know enough about these two yet. They are still adjusting; learning about their new teammates, coaching staff, city, fans etc. will take time.
Centerback is a common choice for captains around the world because the whole game takes place in front of them. They are often required to shout orders and organize those around them, so once Marcelo gets comfortable he could emerge as a vocal team leader.
Frankowski is less likely to emerge as a leader this year given his age (23) and position (winger), but if he comes in and immediately starts lighting it up I think he would be on track to become one of the main leaders on the team.
Ultimately they may turn into fantastic leaders, but it’s unfair to expect them to jump right in and do so.
Youngsters: Mo Adams, Brandt Bronico, Djordje Mihailovic
These three are still a ways away from the leadership role, but I could see all of them growing into it over the next 2 or three years. They are all central midfielders of some sort, which is a great position for leaders because of their needs to both be adept on both sides of the ball and keep track of many things happening at once. They also all play in the same or similar position as our two current leaders.
Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger are two top notch leaders, and you won’t find a better pair to learn from in MLS. Mo Adams and Brandt Bronico are both hard workers, so at the very least they will be able to lead by example. Maybe Bronico will be able to make the #Grindset a team-wide phenomenon.
Mihailovic is the one of these three that will get the most minutes in 2019. At only 20 years old and already a capped international with the USMNT, Mihailovic will have the keys to the car in 2019. If he shows the ability to produce on par with other #10’s in MLS, then his track toward leadership of the Fire will take a big leap.
I’d bet within the next 1-2 years the Fire will need to find an additional or new leader. Will it be one of these guys? Someone else currently on the roster? Someone outside of MLS?