1. Impressive debutants
On the bright side, the Chicago Fire had a few of their new signings play very well against tough competition. It was a real trial by fire (pun somewhat intended) for rookie Mauricio Pineda, who made his first-team debut after signing a homegrown deal in the offseason.
Coming in at defensive midfield, he served as an anchor for the team, staying back while others pushed forward. He was also the link between the defense and the attack, dropping deep before hitting a pass up the field. Pineda probably won’t start once the Fire are at full strength, but he was able to prove himself on the day, which should lead to more minutes down the line.
Alongside him in the midfield was Alvaro Medran, who had a tough preseason but looked much better in his first competitive game for the club. The Spaniard was a joy to watch on the ball, constantly twisting and turning past defenders before driving upfield. Wearing the number 10, Medran had a few brief moments of magic that will have surely excited Chicago supporters. He took one too many shots from distance, but once he gets more acclimated to life in MLS, he could become a real star.
Then there was Robert Beric, who only needed about 46 minutes to score his first goal for the Fire. Some fans may have had flashbacks to Nemanja Nikolic when Beric was caught offside several times in the first half, but that was likely down to opening day jitters. He calmed down as the game went on and led the line very well. Dropping deep and holding up play at times, Beric helped Chicago keep the ball before then pushing forward again. His goal was well taken as he waited for the ball to bounce before smashing a volley past Stefan Frei, who is an elite MLS goalkeeper.
It was a positive start for Beric and co., perhaps an illustration of the positive work the Chicago Fire did conduct in the offseason. But as anyone who watches MLS will tell you, the season is long and hard. There is still a long way to go.