(3 wins and 7 goals in the last 4 regular season matches), I think we actually have a chance – albeit small.
Klopas’ changes to the lineup and formation have been incredibly important for this team. As technical director, he has done well to acquire Gargan, Oduro, Chaves, Grazzini, Paladini, Pardo, Barouch (on loan), and Cuesta, just to name a few. As coach, he has done well to put these players to good use. We’ve mentioned before how the defense has strengthened by the addition of Gargan and by Anibaba’s subsequent move back to CB. The pair of Oduro and Nyarko up front has been fantastic. The midfield doesn’t have any weak spots, in my opinion. Not to mention his use of subs during games has been very effective. What more can you ask for? Nothing.
The bottom line is Frank Klopas has brought momentum and energy to a club that was going nowhere fast. He has a strong relationship with the players. They respect him. If he stays on as coach next season I think we can expect great things from the Fire. I would love to see him get a shot at coaching for a full season.]]>
This partnership will be instrumental in growing the popularity of the club outside the borders of the United States. In partnering with these other clubs, the Fire will hopefully be able to gain valuable insight into how to turn the club into a more well known club outside the CONCACAF region. The knowledge they will gain about various aspects of how these other clubs run will be huge - the player development aspect of it alone will be a big step forward for the Fire.
MLS is really a league of two types of teams. The teams that are well known outside the US, where big name players from other areas of the world want to come play - the LA's and New York's. And then there's the teams that are content with operating like smaller market teams and don't necessarily have the huge recognition worldwide. As much as I love the fact that the Fire players, staff, and overall team are so accessible to the fan base and interact with their supporters, I would love for the club to get more recognized around the world. It will lead to bigger things for both the Chicago Fire and MLS.]]>
With this recent push up the rankings the one thing that Fire supporters can't stop talking about it the possibility for the tenth and final playoff spot. Is it possible? What do they have to do to get in? Can they go anywhere in the playoffs? Does this team have what it takes to get there?]]>
What to watch out for:
The straight red to Gibbs forced the Fire (up 2-0 at the time) to play the remaining 55+ minutes down a man. Frank Klopas tried to preserve the lead after halftime by choosing to remove midfielder Sebastian Grazzini and bring on defender Yamith Cuesta to help shore up the depleted back line. (In addition to losing Gibbs, they were playing without Dan Gargan who was suspended for the match) The second half started out nicely and it looked like the Fire were certainly marching towards another three points - until disaster struck again in the 63rd minute. After having given up a goal just minutes before, the men in red gave up the equalizer to Nick LaBrocca and all of a sudden we were living an all-too-familiar story.]]>