With less than a month to go until the start of the 2020 MLS campaign, we are taking a look at how each team has evolved since last year, and their chances this term. This time, we look at the Chicago Fire.
For the second successive campaign, the Chicago Fire failed to make the playoffs. The 1998 MLS Cup champions having now only made the postseason once in the last seven years.
They finished eighth in the Eastern Conference, missing out on a playoff spot on the final day of the season as they ended the regular season three points behind the New England Revolution, who took the final postseason berth.
When it came to the U.S. Open Cup, it was also the first time since 2012 that they failed to reach the last 16 having made the semi-finals in five of the last seven seasons. The Fire could only reach the fourth round this time round, losing out to non-MLS opposition, Saint Louis FC, a USL Championship side playing in the second tier of American soccer.
The Chicago Fire also featured in the inaugural edition of the Leagues Cup, but they were eliminated at the first hurdle by Mexican side Cruz Azul, the eventual winners of the competition.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, again, was one of the club’s best players in 2019, along with new defensive rock Francisco Calvo, who came over from Minnesota United in the early part of the season, and he eventually finished the campaign as they highest-rated defender.
Along with the Costa Rican centre-half, four other Fire players averaged a WhoScored rating of over 7/10, including the club’s top-scorer in 2019, C.J. Sapong. The USMNT forward scored 13 goals for the side last season, as well as chipping in with a couple of assists.
The likes of Przemyslaw Frankowski, Aleksandar Katai and Nicolas Gaitan also impressed, the latter of which only arriving in the offseason, but such were the expectations for these players, 2020 was largely an underwhelming campaign.