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Questions to answer in MLS pre-season: Chicago Fire

Jan 21, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT

San Jose Earthquakes v Colorado Rapids Getty Images

(Over the next week we’ll look at two or three Major League Soccer clubs per day, considering what they need to accomplish and which questions most deserve answers during preseason training camp. Opening day in MLS is March 2.)

Frank Klopas’ team wasn’t the best coming down the stretch late last year, but it was a good one – and absolutely one of the most intriguing.

If someone other than Chris Rolfe could have scored a few more goals in October and into the November playoffs, perhaps we would be looking upon Toyota Park differently today.

Klopas’ team is spending the first 10 days in relative seclusion at Ave Maria University in Florida.

  • Is there another scorer in the Fire house?

Looking at the men who finished last season with Chicago, after Chris Rolfe’s team-leading 8 goals, Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro and Sherjill MacDonald had 14 goals between them. Not. Good. Enough. (And while Maicon Santos, collected through the re-entry draft process, may provide some able depth, he’s not the answer.)

  • Who steps into the Pavel Pardo leadership void?

The club announced Jan. 19 that Pavel Pardo, their highly respected Mexican international midfielder, had retired from professional soccer. Leadership and chemistry seems to be a talking point as camp opens this year.

(MORE: One of CONCACAF’s best retires from Chicago)

  • What does a new midfield look like?

New additions Joel Lindpere (from New York) and Jeff Larentowicz (pictured above, from Colorado) give Chicago more bite in the middle, a little more athleticism and more forward drive.  It’s on Klopas now to build the right balance around them, and to pinpoint exactly where Lindpere (who played centrally and on the left for New York) best fits.

Next up later today: Chivas USA

  1. pensfan603 - Jan 21, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    The real question is with all the moves the other teams in the North are making and all the progression they have had how will the FIre progress to be on that level and i dont see it, They Don’t have any prolific scorer on that team unless dom can become what he was a year ago

    • Steve Davis - Jan 21, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      Definitely right on the scorer. I assume that will be addressed … But I do like the two key MF additions, Larentowicz and Lindpere. So, IMO, it’s not exactly correct to say the team hasn’t moved forward at all.

  2. wesbadia - Jan 21, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    If I had to guess, Klopas is still looking at running a 4-5-1 formation with two holding d-mids and MacDonald at the point of attack. If so, Larentowicz is probably the perfect second d-mid alongside Pause. The glut of other midfielders on the roster is not peculiar, though. With Lindpere in the mix, where does that leave Fernandez? I heard a rumor about a loan for him, but nothing has seemed to materialize yet. If Lindpere plays left (typically Nykaro’s area), Nyarko on the right (typically Fernandez’s or Paladini’s area), and Rolfe at attacking mid, Klopas still has Fernandez, Bone, Paladini, Thompson, and a couple lesser mids on the bench. That’s a lot of cash stacked up on the pine, especially in Flaco.

    I think the best thing would be if Flaco was loaned or sold, freeing up a DP spot which could be spent on another striker. I will say that I do like Santos off the bench, as I think he’s best as a super sub instead of a starter, as well as their draft pick Yazid Atoube Emane (another burner).

    Provided Flaco moves and additional forward support arrives, I think Fire will be set this season. Top three in the East, me thinks. Especially considering C-bus seems to have gotten weaker and most of the non-playoff teams from 2012 don’t convince me of anything yet.

    • charliej11 - Jan 22, 2013 at 9:13 PM

      Flaco is as good as gone. On loan this year and I would guess not coming back.

      • wesbadia - Jan 23, 2013 at 8:19 AM

        Would be my guess, too. For a World Cup veteran for a fairly powerful South American side, he never really showed much in MLS to impress me. I would probably consider him a “DP Bust”, honestly.

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