The Fire are back in Chicago today after a 12 day training camp in Florida. The team heads to Los Angeles early next week for four more preseason matches. We’re still three weeks out from the season opener against the Seattle Sounders, and a full six weeks until the return to Soldier Field for the home opener.
In other words, the thought of anyone winning the 2020 MLS Cup, let alone the Fire, seems a long way away. But, since the preseason gives even the most pessimistic of fans at least a tiny glimmer of hope, we figured it was worth a look to see if anyone is giving the Fire a fighting chance of winning it all.
First, the bad news. The betting site Bovada has the Fire at +4000 (40/1 in fractional odds) to win the league title. That’s 16th out of the 26 teams, which puts them right at the cusp of sneaking into the MLS Playoffs. Bovada also has the Columbus Crew, FC Dallas, and Sporting Kansas City right there at +4000.
So who are the favorites? You can probably guess. Bovada has LAFC at +400, Atlanta United, Seattle, and Toronto FC at +700, NYCFC at +800, LA Galaxy at +1400, and Minnesota United, Real Salt Lake, and Thierry Henry’s Montreal Impact at +1600. Nashville SC has by far the worst odds at +15000.
Now, the good news. The stats site Five Thirty Eight has the Fire as the sixth highest rated team in MLS on the site’s Soccer Power Index.
The only teams rated higher are LAFC, Atlanta, NYCFC, Philadelphia and Toronto. The Fire come in one spot higher on Five Thirty Eight’s list than the defending champion Sounders. Chicago is listed as having a 65 percent chance to make the playoffs, and a 4 percent chance of winning MLS Cup.
Whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist, it’s worth remembering that Leicester City was 5000/1 to win the Premier League in 2016, and MLS has a lot more parity than the Premier League.
So, maybe there’s hope. Hope keeps you going in the preseason. But, come fall if your team fails, it’s that hope that kills you.