In the first of our MLS 2015 Season Previews, we take a look at what the Chicago Fire will be hoping for this year. We’ll have a new season preview up every day in the lead up to the season now so be sure to keep checking back for your team.
Chicago Fire will look to improve on what was a below par season in 2014 with the new-look squad that head coach Frank Yallop has put together. The Fire have splashed in order to improve their fortunes in 2015 following the marquee signings of Shaun Maloney, David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike to Designated Player contracts. And more additions are expected before the season gets underway.
Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 9th – P34 – W6 – D18 – L10
What needs to change this year?
The Fire struggled last year with the amount of draws they accumulated and were very poor at hanging onto leads. Amazingly, Chicago managed to lose a total of 22 points from winning positions in 2014. This was the main reason for their league-high record of 18 draws (four more than any other MLS team). This season they will need to convert winning positions into points. A good way to secure these points is to find an out-and-out goalscorer, as Quincy Amarikwa only managed eight as their top scorer last season, and new DP’s Igboananike and Accam will be expected to find the net on a regular basis. It’s going to take a lot for the Fire to reach the playoffs in an even more competitive Eastern Conference this season.
Key changes to squad:
Ins: Kennedy Igboananike – Forward (Designated Player), Shaun Maloney – Midfield/Forward (Designated Player), David Accam – Forward (Designated Player), Patrick Doody – Defender (Homegrown Player), Adailton – Defender.
Outs: Bakary Soumare – Defender, Patrick Ianni – Defender.
Key player: Shaun Maloney – Midfielder/Forward
Shaun Maloney will provide invaluable experience to a side that lacked inspiration last season when seeing off games. A creative forward who is adaptable in many formations, Yallop has made a good addition to his squad with Maloney. As a Designated Player he will command a key role in the team but do not be surprised if he plays multiple positions throughout the season as Yallop will want to use Maloney, and other versatile players like Harry Shipp, to his full advantage.
One to watch: Harry Shipp – Midfield
A strong contender for MLS Rookie of the Year in 2014, Harry Shipp will want to follow up a solid first season by solidifying his spot in Yallop’s much-changed team. Shipp will benefit from the new additions and we fully expect him to still be a key player in a Chicago team that is out to prove a point this term.
Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 7th
We expect a good showing from Chicago this season but we’re not convinced it will be enough for the playoffs as this is strongest the Eastern Conference has ever been. But as always, the MLS provides an entertaining watch, and anything can happen. The key will be how quickly all the new signings can gel together.
How do you think the Chicago Fire will fair in 2015?