Chicago, Montreal Have Quietly Strong Offseasons

Chicago Fire and Montreal Impact could turn heads this season with their strong offseason
by Katherine Rupp   |   Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Major League Soccer (MLS) 2012 Season Preview

Most of the talk of this MLS offseason has been on the big name clubs like Toronto (because of the additions of Sebastian Giovinco, Damien Perquis, and Jozy Altidore), New York City FC (since the club is new, a bit of a mess with the designated player Frank Lampard situation, and the signings of David Villa and Mix Diskerud), as well as the New York Red Bulls (there could be more, but two words are needed: Mike Petke), and the LA Galaxy (with Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard coming to play in LA in July).

But there has been some movement with other clubs that could be a boon to their rosters and the general welfare of the specific clubs.

One such club that could benefit from the spotlight being on others while their own club gets the gears ready for the season is the Chicago Fire. Recently, the club acquired Shaun Maloney, a Scottish international player who was just at English Championship league side Wigan Athletic. Maloney will add some strength to the core of the pitch – in the middle – with two standouts from last season, Quincy Amarikwa and Harrison Shipp, getting the service and support from midfield.

Additionally, in the SuperDraft, the Fire selected two new players to the squad – Matt Polster (from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville) and Kingsley Bryce (Saint Louis University) – who will, if they stick with the Fire, will most likely play for the partnered USL-Pro team, St. Louis FC. One other important move that Chicago has made in this offseason doesn’t have much to deal with the play on the field per se but rather with how people watch the games. The Fire agreed to a deal with Comcast SportsNet Chicago to broadcast nearly two dozen home games in this new 2015 season. Even without flashy names, Chicago could be a dark horse with the offseason moves the club has made.

Another club that hasn’t raised many people’s eyebrows until recently is the Montreal Impact. The now journeyman of Dominic Oduro will say ‘Bienvenue’ to Montreal as he’s one of the handful of players the Impact have recently acquired. The Ghanaian forward, who has played for FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo, Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, and Toronto FC, will hopefully add firepower to the offense, especially now that Marco Di Vaio has retired.

Another player who will look to strengthen the team, this time at defense, and has joined the team in the past few days is Belgian national team member and former player for Standard Liege, is Laurent Ciman. Joining Ciman in defense is Cameroonian – who was most recently on loan at the New York Red Bulls – Ambroise Oyongo.

Another acquisition that Montreal has received recently in the same trade that Oyongo was part of was for former FC Dallas and Portland Timber – but more well-known for his time at the New York Red Bulls – is Eric Alexander. The midfielder (who could possibly be mistaken for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers) will, similarly to Oduro, add more sustainability and organization to the offense, and with his skill set, be a player to watch for in terms of player management on the field even if he doesn’t have the captain’s armband.

Montreal, with quite a few new players – whether acquired from MLS or from around the world – may just turn a few heads with a refreshed squad.

Although the bigger and marquee named clubs and players are getting lots of attention in offseason, the MLS preseason started with the Chicago Fire and the Montreal Impact rounding out the curve and into the stretch of the offseason quite strongly.

There are most definitely other teams with front offices that have made great decisions regarding the play on the field as well as the locker room camaraderie but look for the Fire and the Impact to possibly be two teams that could surprise some people this upcoming 2015 MLS season.

Katherine RUPP

Nationality:
USA
College:
Drake University
Club Domestic:
Sporting KC
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Unabashed Minnesotan by birth. Tried reliving the glory days of collegiate intramural soccer championships but an ACL tear dashed future hopes of adult recreational greatness. Covering a city’s team that’s too big for one state: SKC.
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