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What If The Fire Were Forced To Play Everyone Out Of Position?

Moving players out of position has knock on effects

MLS: Chicago Fire at New England Revolution Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

What if the Fire, due to an obscure MLS roster rule, were required to move players out of their natural positions for one game in 2019?

Here’s what happens when you take a current squad issue and blow it way out of proportion.

Rules:

  • All eleven players must be moved.
  • Every player must be moved outside of their “line”, (i.e. moving Bastian Schweinsteiger to right back won’t fly, because that would be too easy).
  • I will consider wingers in the same line as strikers, because their responsibilities are more closely in line with strikers than with midfielders.

GK: Francisco Calvo

Too bad Mike Magee isn’t around anymore to play GK, but Calvo will have to do. Calvo has the overall athleticism to be able to handle this position. He has good leaping ability, is good on set pieces, and has the defensive instincts to block shots.

RB: Kenneth Kronholm

Right back can be a place where Kronholm won’t have too many responsibilities. Goalkeeper skills are just so wildly different than outfield skills that it was inevitable that Kronholm would have to be tucked away somewhere.

CB: Dax McCarty

McCarty can use most of his current skillset here and be still effective. Moving Basti and Calvo off of the back line means another leader needs to come in, and there’s no better leader on the Fire than Dax McCarty.

CB: Nemanja Nikolic

Finding a place to put Nikolic is probably the toughest part of this list because of his nature as a specialist. In this lineup he needs a spot where his poor ability on the ball won’t be susceptible to too much pressure. In this position I’m banking on his ability as a ball hawk to anticipate and clear the ball out of dangerous situations.

LB: Nicolas Gaitán

I want to make sure I can still get use out of Gaitán’s sweet left foot. Overlapping down the left wing is a role where Gaitán can still have an impact even if he will get torched on the defensive end.

CM: Jonathan Bornstein

I knew when I started this that I was going to put a fullback in one of the center midfield slots. I’m putting Johnny B here because he’s a very active defensive player, and that’s something that this wacky lineup definitely needs.

CM: Aleksandar Katai

In this lineup, Katai’s dribbling ability will be used as a way to move the ball forward. He has such a perfect combination of quickness and size, so he won’t be bullied here. Bornstein will have a heck of a time covering for him on defense though.

CAM: Przemysław Frankowski

Frankowski is a great player to have under a less mobile striker. He isn’t a scorer, but ideally he pulls the centerbacks of the opponent so out of shape that he’ll have teammates to pass to.

RW: Johan Kappelhof

Kappelhof is here because we need someone to help play defense in front of Kronholm. He also has experience putting in crosses from the right side as a right back.

ST: Bastian Schweinsteiger

Basti has that old man strength, and it’s almost impossible to take the ball off of him. I want him as a target man, with the wingers and attacking midfielder making runs beyond him. He’ll barely have to move, which is partially why he is playing centerback anyways so this is a good fit.

LW: Brandt Bronico

Bronico will be the inverted winger. I want him to cut inside and score a banger every single time he gets the ball. There will be many supporting players around him, so he’ll have to pick up his scoring output.

Final result:

What is the point of this? Well, part of it is to be silly and think about how funny it would be to play Kronholm as an outfield player. The other part is to realize how difficult it is to change a player’s position.

Veljko Paunovic has had some successes, but more often than not it hasn’t worked well. Sometimes Pauno tries to force it (playing Fabian Herbers as a midfielder) and sometimes his hand is forced. Nelson Rodriguez has done a poor job of providing fullback options to this team, which is why we’ve seen centerbacks, wingers, and midfielders play that position. Sometimes playing someone out of position is the only option.

The most difficult part of this was realizing how much moving one player affected everyone else. Every positional shift is a series of trade-offs that give additional and sometimes unnatural responsibilities to neighboring positions. Players perform best when they understand their roles and the roles of those around them.