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What If Jonathan Bornstein Spent the Entire Season in Chicago

How does the January signing of Jonathan Bornstein effect the season?

MLS: D.C. United at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Bornstein had a successful debut for the Chicago Fire. His presence shored up the back line such that they were successful shutting down DC United. In his introductory press release, Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez said that they were hoping to have signed him back in January, but because he was so valuable to his club, they had to wait until the summer window. That got me thinking, how does it change the season? What does the Fire season look like with him at LB the whole way?

In this what if scenario, I’m going back through every game to see what changes, and where the Fire would be in the table.

March

3/2 at LA Galaxy
Final Score:1-1
Points Total: 1

3/9 vs Orlando City
Final Score:1-0
Points Total: 4

3/16 vs Seattle Sounders
Final Score:2-3
Points Total: 4

3/30 vs New York Red Bulls
Final Score:1-0
Points Total: 7

March has two results changed; the opener at the Galaxy and the home opener against Orlando. You can’t really say that the Zlatan goal he scored to take the lead wouldn’t have happened. That was a bit of individual magic by Zlatan. However, Bornstein doesn’t get beat by Efrain Alvarez on the Steres goal. Orlando doesn’t score at all, and Seattle gets a goal shaved off their score, but lets face it, nothing was stopping the Sounders that day.

That gives us 7 points after a month. That’s not a bad start.

April

4/6 at Toronto FC
Final Score:2-2
Points Total: 8

4/12 vs Vancouver Whitecaps
Final Score:0-0
Points Total: 9

4/20 vs Colorado Rapids
Final Score:4-0
Points Total: 12

4/24 vs New York City FC
Final Score:0-1
Points Total: 12

4/28 vs Montreal Impact
Final Score:0-0
Points Total: 13

April would be a tough month with the Fire only picking up six points over five games. They still lose in Yankee Stadium because it’s Yankee Stadium. It’s far and away the worst place to play in the league, and the Fire’s personal hell.

The the first negative change of the exercise is Vancouver. I think that the reason for forcing the penalty was the mistake that cost the Fire the goal. With Bornstein in the lineup, the Fire wouldn’t have given up that goal, and therefore, would not have tried so desperately to win the game.

Colorado doesn’t get a consolation goal, and Montreal doesn’t score either. That’s 13 points through two months. Not record breaking by any means, but also not terrible either.

May

5/28 at LAFC
Final Score: 0-0
Points Total: 14

5/28 vs New England Revolution
Final Score: 5-0
Points Total: 18

5/28 vs Minnesota United FC
Final Score: 2-0
Points Total: 21

5/28 at San Jose Earthquakes
Final Score: 1-2
Points Total: 21

5/25 vs New York City FC
Final Score: 1-0
Points Total: 24

5/29 at D.C. United
Final Score: 3-3
Points Total: 25

This is where things get interesting. In real life, this was the Fire’s best month. and that doesn’t change here. They get two more points out of beating NYCFC instead of drawing them, and lose to San Jose in more respectable fashion. However, everything else stays the same. nine points in real life vs. eleven points in my imaginary what if scenario. May is the best month of the season.

June

6/1 at Atlanta United
Final Score: 0-2
Points Total: 25

6/22 vs Real Salt Lake
Final Score: 1-1
Points Total: 26

6/28 at New York Red Bulls
Final Score: 1-3
Points Total: 26

June was a shortened month due to a break for the Open Cup as well as the Gold Cup. Because knockout football is so volatile and weird, we’re going to ignore the Open Cup loss to St. Louis. As for the league, nothing saves the Fire against Atlanta. That performance was so incredibly poor, not even a real back line could save it. The same can be said about the match on the 28th against the Red Bulls. The penalty scored by RSL was unfortunate, but nothing changes there, as the cross came from the right side of the Fire defense, and it hit Mo Adams in the arm. The June results stand, and there’s nothing changed. A point in three games is all the Fire get out of the months.

July

7/3 vs Atlanta United
Final Score: 5-1
Points Total: 29

7/6 at Sporting Kansas City
Final Score: 0-1
Points Total: 29

7/13 vs FC Cincinnati
Final Score: 1-0
Points Total: 32

7/17 vs Columbus Crew
Final Score: 2-1
Points Total: 35

7/20 at Philadelphia Union
Final Score: 0-1
Points Total: 35

7/27 vs D.C. United
Final Score: 0-0
Points Total: 36

And so we end with the last month. There are two changes here. The first is that the draw against Columbus becomes a win. At the time, we knew that the Fire blew an absolutely winnable game. That doesn’t happen here, and they hold on to the win. The second change is they beat Cincinnati. The first goal would not have been given up by Bornstein, and the second would have been prevented because the back line as a whole would have been better with him, and wouldn’t have been as loose to the counter attack. They also only give up one goal to the Union, but still lose all the same. The end result is that the Fire end July with thirty six points.


According to the current MLS table, 36 points gets you tied for third with Atlanta and DC United. Because the United and Atlanta results are the same for the Fire as they are in real life, this would put the Fire in place for a solid playoff finish.

This changes everything we think about the season. The move to Soldier Field isn’t though of as a cover up, but instead the next logical step of a club looking to pair solid results with a move back into the city proper. The rebrand talk probably is still a discussion, but it’s not that big a worry, because a good team would solve a lot of the problems that the rebrand is supposed to fix. And, most importantly, we’d all be having a lot more fun watching this team.