Chicago Fire must find cutting edge to become serious contenders
At one time in the Chicago Fire’s 17-year history, the club were one of Major League Soccer’s most consistent teams.
In 11 of the Fire’s first 12 seasons, the club qualified for the MLS postseason. On top of a fantastic playoff record, the Fire appeared in three MLS Cup finals during that time, winning the 1998 instalment.
The club also created a dynasty on the domestic cup front by winning four US Open Cups in nine seasons and became Chicago’s winningest team during that 12 season run.
Outside of DC United and the Los Angeles Galaxy, a case can be made that Chicago have the third most prestigious MLS club in terms of historical significance. But don’t tell Kansas City or Houston that.
Since 2010, however, the Fire have been extinguished. In that time, the club have made the playoffs once – 2012 – were they were beaten in the knockout round by Houston. In addition, the club have finished no higher than sixth overall in MLS during that same time span.
Three coaches have manned the team’s bench in the last five plus seasons. Mexican Carlos de los Cobos began the 2010 season, but after the club won a mere ten games under his stewardship, the team fired the coach in the spring of 2011.
Frank Kloppas took charge of the Fire thereafter, and despite improving things in 2012 and 2013, the team began to slump again. Kloppas was removed in 2013 and Frank Yallop was installed to remedy the problems.
Yet in Yallop’s one full season with the Fire, the Canadian coach secured a franchise record-low six league wins. Of course, Yallop has had success as a MLS coach. However, other than the 2012 season with San Jose Earthquakes, much of his success came during the early 2000s.
All is not lost for the Fire yet this season as the club sit sixth in the Eastern Conference with eight points from nine games. Yallop must be thankful for the two expansion teams (Orlando City and New York City) in the conference this season, along with a dreadful Montreal and Philadelphia.
This past weekend, the club slumped to a home loss to Real Salt Lake. Once again the club were victims to poor finishing as the club could only score once from 14 shots. Jeff Larentowicz, who played at center-back against RSL, scored that lone goal as he became the club’s leading scorer with two goals in 2015.