New Season, New Look For Fire

A change in system plays to Chicago’s strengths
by Kiran Balan   |   Saturday, March 08, 2014

Ladder 97 – column on Chicago Fire & the Chicagoland area soccer scene.

On Sunday, Chicago Fire will be taking the field against Chivas USA to open the 2014 MLS season.  In what has been an offseason with a variety of personnel changes and an overhaul in the tactics department, the million-dollar question on every Fire fans’ mind is who will coach Frank Yallop select in his starting XI for the season opener.

While there are some very familiar names that will definitely make it into the starting lineup, there are a lot of players who have shown their quality during the offseason to stake their claim for a starting role in this new look squad.

With the season about to get underway, it’s likely Yallop is going to go with the highly effective 4-1-4-1 formation. It is important that Sean Johnson help marshal a new look defense as they work to find their feet and build team chemistry. The 2 centerbacks, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Bakary Soumare, are strong in the air and are strong on the ball. In due time they surely will have a strong partnership in the back. Yallop as also stressed the need to have attacking fullbacks that can defend and join in on the attack on the flanks. Both Gonzalo Segares and Lovel Palmer are proven to be capable of doing both.

In the midfield, Jeff Larentowicz will definitely command the holding midfielder role, yet he too is able to get forward and spark an attack.  Wingers Dilly Duka and Patrick Nyarko are both very good on the ball and are able to force defenders into tough positions. They are also very consistent in scoring and setting up scoring chances, which will be important if the Fire are to be a force in the Eastern Conference.  As an attacking midfielder, Alex is very crafty on the ball and his smart play making has been one of the main reasons as to why the Fire had a good run of form towards the latter part of the season.

Up top, reigning MLS MVP Mike Magee will act as an attacking midfielder/second striker behind Juan Anangono. Magee is very smart on the ball and he definitely can find the back of the net. Opposing defenders will look to heavily guard Magee, and that can open up the floodgate for Anangono to score many goals.

With a wealth of depth and talent on this new Fire squad, the 2014 MLS season will be a big year for the men in red. Many young players will also be eager to make their mark off the bench. After a disappointing end to their 2013 campaign, the Fire will definitely be working hard to make a good start to the new season.

NEXT UP: March 9 – Chicago Fire vs. Chivas USA, StubHub Center, Carson, Calif. 3 p.m. EST, Unimas.


Illinois State University
Club Domestic:
Chicago Fire
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Columnist for his hometown MLS team, Chicago Fire. When he’s not flying down the left wing for ISU FC or in a pick-up game, he can be seen watching the beautiful game. A die-hard Chelsea and USMNT fan, he is keen to growing his soccer knowledge.