When Dax McCarty was traded to Nashville SC after last season, the Chicago Fire didn’t just need to fill his spot in the midfield, they also needed to find a new captain. The other natural leader from last season, Bastian Schweinsteiger, is also gone, which means this year’s edition of the Fire will have all new leadership on the field.
So, who’s the most likely player on the Fire to wear the armband this season? Let’s take a look:
Francisco Calvo - The Frontrunner
For me, Calvo’s probably the most likely choice. He’s worn the armband a lot this preseason, although I’m told he hasn’t officially been named captain yet. It’s his first full season in Chicago, after being traded from Minnesota United last year, where he was captain of the Loons. He’s also a sure-fire starter for this team, and while some clubs will have captains that don’t always start, it’s usually a good idea to choose someone who’s almost always on the pitch.
Plus, Calvo is 27, so he’s right in his prime, and he’s a strong communicator in both English and his native Spanish. He’s also the only regular international player on this list, which is definitely a strong point, but that also means he may have to miss matches when he’s called up to play for Costa Rica. Still, overall, I think Calvo is probably going to end up being “El Capitan” of the Fire this season.
Jonathan Bornstein - The Veteran Leader
Also in his first full season with the Fire, Bornstein, 35, is definitely a veteran leader on the team, and he knows that’s a huge part of his job.
“I try to take it day by day,” Bornstein told me at Chicago Fire media day. “Come in every day, train hard, work hard, be an example for the younger players, show them if I’m working harder than them at 35, then there should be something wrong.”
Remember, Bornstein played briefly with Raphael Wicky at Chivas USA, so there’s a connection there. He’s also a fairly clear-cut starter with the team, unless he gets overtaken by Andre Reynolds II or new signing Miguel Angel Navarro. Like Calvo, he’s a strong communicator in both English and Spanish. So, if it’s not Calvo, the former United States international would make a solid choice. Even if the armband goes to Calvo, Bornstein is going to be one of this team’s leaders.
Johan Kappelhof - The Longest Serving Player
For some, as the longest tenured player on the Fire roster, Kappelhof, 29, might be the obvious choice. He’s skilled, smart, and thoughtful. He’s also willing to sacrifice for the team—as he showed last season spending a lot of time at right back, rather than his preferred center back position.
“I see myself as a central defender, of course. I’m a central defender. At the end of the day, I will play where the team needs me,” Kappelhof said.
I think Kapelhof would do a fine job as captain, but I feel Wicky will look to Calvo or Bornstein first.
CJ Sapong - The Long Shot
Sapong might seem like a long shot, but hear me out. He was last year’s Fire team MVP, and is the joint-top goalscorer with Elliot Collier this preseason. He’s a strong MLS presence, and has the most league experience of anyone on this list. He also obviously has a big, fun, smart personality, so maybe all that translates well to the captaincy. One drawback—with the signing of Robert Beric as the No. 9, and the potential signing of Ignacio Aliseda as the left wing, Sapong may not be a lock to start as much as the other guys on the list.
So, what do you think? Is your 2020 Fire captain Calvo, Bornstein, or someone else? Let us know in the comments.