The guys at the Chicago Fire blog, Hot Time in Old Town, answered some questions about their team quite thoroughly. Many thanks to the gentlemen who took care to write these responses! If you'd like to check out my answers to their questions, go check out their site.
1) The results are self evident, but how did the Fire see the Mike Magee trade back when it happened, and how have the expectations of him changedf? Have the fans changed their opinions much since the trade occurred?
Most everyone was excited about Magee's arrival. He notched a hat trick against us on opening day, so most everyone was excited at the thought that we would finally have a goal scorer. Also, there is the whole Chicago native angle of the story, too. I would have hard time believing that there was a Fire fan who wasn't stoked when the trade went down.
The big question after the trade happened was about how Magee would fit in the line up. His style is pretty similar to Chris Rolfe's, so there was some debate as to whether Magee would play in the midfield, or if Rolfe would get moved to the midfield or if they would both start up top. Frank elected to play both Magee and Rolfe up top, which actually worked out pretty well. They're both really intelligent players, and I think they quickly developed a good understanding of how each other played. Unfortunately, while Magee was racking up the goals, Rolfe couldn't put a shot on target to save his life and eventually fell out of favor.
2) How are the Fire fans feeling about this season? It's looking tough for the Fire to make the playoffs, but there are certainly positives to look at. Without that terrible start, Chicago might be comfortably in a playoff spot!
I think the fans are fatigued and exasperated by the way this season has gone. I hate using cliche's, but it has been a roller coaster ride. Actually, with the way the last month and a half have gone, I think a Pogo stick might be a more appropriate metaphor. The Fire are up and down every week. Its really draining to go from feeling like the sky is falling to "Holy crap! We're in a playoff spot" every other week.
What's even more frustrating is that this team is the late goals this team gives up. Even when the Fire had a 2-0 lead over DC last Friday, I still couldn't relax.
3) What should Dallas fans look for during this game? Is there something Frank Klopas is likely to try against the Toros? Is there a specific player not named Magee who could have a major impact?
Well, do you like seeing the Toros retain possession of the ball for about 60% of the game? Because that is probably what is going to happen. The Fire don't really bother to hold possession. When they do have the ball, there are two ways they try to move it up field.
One way the Fire like to move the ball up field is by playing long balls up top to our big, Ecuadorian striker, Juan Luis Anangonó, who I would say is the Fire's impact player not named Mike Magee. The team likes to play off him and do a lot of quick, one touch combination passing. The Fire are still getting use to this style of play as it is kind of a new way of attacking for them. They haven't really had a striker who could hold the ball up until Juan Luis. I mean, they did have Sherjill MacDonald but Sherjill was embarrassingly out of shape at the start of the season, and he found himself sitting on the bench pretty quickly.
The second way the Fire move the ball up the field is by playing up the flanks. Although, teams have discovered that if they can shut down the flanks, the Fire's offense really struggles. So Schellas, if you read this, you might want to make a note.
4) With the season almost over, what is the one major change you would like to see the Chicago Fire make in 2014?
Picking one thing is going to be really hard to do, but I think I have one: Find young talent within the MLS.
This past off season, I think the Fire FO were on the right track by acquiring players from other MLS teams. There is a big benefit to bringing in players with MLS experience because they already know the league. Unfortunately, the Fire started off by acquiring guys in their late 20's or early 30's.
The Fire's first three acquisitions were selecting 28 year old Maicon Santos in the Re-Entry Draft, trading for 31 year old Joel Lindpere and then trading for 29 year old Jeff Larentowicz. Out of those three players, only Larentowicz will probably still be on the roster next season.
While Larentowicz has be incredibly valuable to the Fire this season, he is also no spring chicken. Larentowicz has probably hit his ceiling as a soccer player and he is not really going to grow or develop any more. Dilly Duka and Quincy Amarikwa, on the other hand, are two great examples of young players who have MLS experience and have not maxed out their potential as soccer players. Looking outside the Fire, Will Johnson has been very good for the Portland Timbers in his first season and Nathan Sturgis has become a regular fixture in the Colorado Rapids midfield. Both Johnson and Sturgis are still in their prime. These are players that teams can build long term plans around and are not just one to two year stop gaps
Bonus: Dan Lobring still works for the Fire. Forgiven and forgotten?
I don't think most fans place most of the blame on Lobring. Many are of the opinion that Lobring was merely a stooge in all of this, and that the actual underlying message of the editorial was an order from above. There are still quite a lot of fans who have not totally forgiven the organization, or owner Andrew Hauptman, for the editorial and most likely will not forget about it anytime soon.
I think a lot of this could have been smoothed over with an apology. A week or two after the editorial, Dan Lobring and the Chicago Fire's Chief Operating Officer, Atul Kholsa, actually attended a Section 8 meeting and fielded questions from supporters. Some fans were hoping that Dan and Atul would offer an apology at the meeting, but no apology ever emerged. I was not at the meeting, but I have heard mixed reports from it. Some felt that it was not what they were hoping for, but there was progress, others felt that Dan and Atul were just there for the appearance and that they did nothing but tow the company line.
Either way, there has been a schism between the club and it's fans for while now, and with the editorial, the schism grew much larger. At this point in the wake of the editorial, the onus is on the club to patch things up.