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Chicago Fire Soccer Club

A Sneak Peek into What is to Come this SeasonĀ 

By Roberto Rivera
On March 11, 2011

 

Through the last weeks of February the weather continued to dish out the last couple of cold bursts before the spring season. Despite the weather not being very accommodating, with the arrival of March we have several significant sports events announcing that summer is right around the corner. The Cubs are training in Mesa, NCAA March Madness kicks off midmonth and The Chicago Fire soccer club will be spend the beginnings of March playing in the Carolina Challenge Cup, a four team round-robin competition hosted by the Charleston Battery from the USL Professional Division.
                                    
At the end of the Chicago Fire's 2010, season the team saw the departure of three of their most significant players, Brian McBride, CJ Brown and Wilman Conde. Both Brown and McBride chose to retire at the end of the 2010 season, while Wilman Conde signed to play with Mexican First Division team Puebla.
  
It is now up to head coach, Carlos de los Cabos, to properly compensate for their departures and develop a team worthy of playoff contention. One promising player that the team has to look forward to is Uruguayan Diego Chavez. Team technical director Frank Klopas told MLSsoccer.com that Chavez is set to be a starter for the team since the Fire had lost many of their forwards in the offseason. Chavez has scored 31 goals in 127 appearances in his seven year career.
      
Unfortunately coach Cabos has a short preseason in which to prepare with only five games before the season opener at Pizza Hut Park against FC Dallas on March 19. Of the five matches, two friendlies are against the New York Red Bulls and the Seattle Sounders and three games coincide with The Carolina Challenge Cup. The friendly was against the Red Bulls of New York was on Feb. 23, in which the team managed to come back from a 1 – 0 deficit, to tie the game with a goal from Guatemalan Marco Pappa in the 53rd minute. The teams' home game opener at Toyota Park will be against Sporting KC on Saturday, March 26.
  
                                    
Within the first two weeks of March, the Chicago Fire will be competing against Toronto FC, DC United, and the Charleston Battery. Both MLS teams in the competition gave the Fire a challenge last season. With four games played against both teams evenly, the Fire were only able to win one of those matches against DC United with a final score of 2 – 0, back in the beginning of the season. The Carolina Challenge Cup will act as an alternate preseason, yet at the same time it is also a forum in which the Fire could successfully prepare for a winning season or just be an indication as to whether the team is at all promising for the next season, depending on where they place at the end of the competition.
      
One thing the Chicago Fire does have to look forward to in the upcoming season is the MLS's new Playoff structure, in which the league is allowing a 10 team seeding format, as opposed to the previous seasons eight, a structure that last year would have allowed the Fire to compete, where the team finished in tenth place in the league with 36 points, after 30 games played and a 9-12-9 record.

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