Joe Mansueto has been making the media rounds this past week after buying the last 51 percent of the Fire that he didn’t own. And in them, he is acknowledging what a big job he has ahead of him. Building back the trust that Andrew Hauptman shattered after he was able to remake the Chicago Fire into his vision will not be an easy task.
Here are a few next steps for him to take.
Make The Playoffs, Or At Least Win Out
While there is only so much he can do to personally affect this, it would be a nice prologue to the Mansueto era for the club to end the 2019 season on as much of a high note as possible.
It seemed like on Saturday the team rallied around the change in stewardship, giving us one of their most dominating performances of the season. It would be nice to use the momentum and moral boost to clear out the other three teams fighting for the 7th playoff position.
However, we know that it’s not entirely within their power to do so. That means the best the fans can hope for is to take the last nine points available and win out.
Establish a USL Farm Club, Preferably At SeatGeek Stadium
The biggest problem the Fire have is on-boarding their homegrown players into successful members of the Fire’s first team. Harry Shipp, Brandt Bronico and Djordje Mihailovic are exceptions to what has been a long line of flame outs and and missed opportunities. Players like Victor Pineda and Joey Calistri may not have been good enough, but they were never given a real chance by their first team managers at the big club. They needed minutes that the team couldn’t or didn’t want them to have.
A USL-level club is a necessary stepping stone for these players, and the fact that it’s in-house means that you can have complete control over their development. You can mold them into the players you want them to be.
As for playing in Bridgeview? It means that they can train with and against the first team whenever you want to, and can keep a close eye on development. Despite playing in Soldier Field, the Fire will still train and operate out of The Geek. They can keep a close eye on what’s going on, and give the technical staff more operational control, than if they played in say Rockford or the Quad Cities.
Sign a Big Name in January
To some people, this is the most important thing on the list.
The Fire have 60k+ seats to fill now. One of the most impactful things they can do to put butts in seats at Soldier Field is to sign a marquee player at a marquee position. All three designated player spots will potentially be open come the start of the transfer window, and if that’s the case, the club should make the most of it.
Before we can dream big however, we have to understand some of our hopes and dreams probably won’t happen. Chicharito just signed a multi year deal with Sevilla, and Robert Lewandowski probably isn’t leaving Bayern Munich anytime soon. And if rumors are true, Leo Messi, while on his way to MLS, is going to the Miami David Beckhams. Where, then, does that leave the Fire?
Everyone wants a big Mexican star, and why wouldn’t you? Based on what Blanco was when he was here, plus the effect Carlos Vela is having on the league, it would be amazing to have a productive Mexican National Team member in a Fire shirt. If the Men In Red want to make a splash here, the answer is Andrés_Guardado. What bigger name could you get than the captain of the national team? And if Aleksander Katai doesn’t come back, I couldn’t think of a better replacement.
If you’re looking for an American name to sign, HTIOT managing editor Bridget Gordon came up with a great name to consider on this week’s North Lot Podcast: John Brooks. Defense is not sexy, so it doesn’t fill that requirement. But like she said on the ‘cast, Brooks would be a defensive anchor the Fire need, and would go a long way in making the Fire consistently one of the best squads in the league.
What do you think Joe Mansueto’s top priorities should be as he takes over the club? Drop us a line in the comments below to share your thoughts.