by Dan Gaichas
Last time I wrote for Prost, I wrote about how the Fire took the first seven steps back towards prominence. I also mentioned that there were three steps the club needed to take for 2018: 1) Sign a true #1, 2) Re-sign Schweinsteiger, 3) Get a true #10.
It still holds true that Matt Lampson is not going to win the Fire matches on his own. The Iker Casillas rumors are out there, but Chicago would need to make some room for him in terms of moving out two goalkeepers; Jorge Bava (whose option was curiously picked up), Lampson (currently guaranteed for next season), and Stefan Cleveland (option picked up). Not to mention halting the process of trying to re-sign Richard Sanchez who went 1-1-0 in the two starts he made in 2017.
The Fire have a history of goalkeepers who could win matches on their own. Think Zach Thornton, Jon Busch, Sean Johnson),ight now, the Fire do not have that kind of goalkeeper and Lampson’s form late in the season had Fire fans wanting to see more of Sanchez. They might at least get that in 2018.
His option picked up at the end of last season, David Accam’ remains on the Fire’s roster along with Nemanja Nikolic who is also on a guaranteed deal. Just how he reinvigorated the Fire is reason alone to re-sign Bastian Schweinsteiger for 2018. When he was healthy, everyone around him was better. The defense improved with the returns of Brandon Vincent and Matt Polster in September but those concerns to resurfaced with Schweinsteiger’s injury in Montreal. Chicago would take a big step backwards if the Fire do not re-sign Schweinsteiger after all the goodwill the Fire had rebuilt in 2017. Signing #31 is simply a no-brainer.
The Fire’s fortunes soured for good with Michael de Leeuw’s ruptured ACL.against NYCFC. He was the go-between for Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty , Accam and Nikolic. Possibly out until June, Fire need a #10 capable of getting the ball to Accam and Nikolic. Curiously De Leeuw was something of a false #10 while David Arshakyan only more so; his cameo in the playoff match against Red Bulls was cringeworthy.
General Manager Nelson Rodriguez has always spoke of obtaining a player who not only could create chances for others, but for himself as well. Schweinsteiger could do that on occasion, but the Fire definitely someone who can do that more often. Whether that requires using GAM and TAM to play down a DP salary (read: Accam’s).
The Fire’s attack needs to be more than just Nikolic and Accam for them to move forward in 2018.
The Fire have been relatively quiet apart from the trade of Arturo Alvarez to Houston for a 2019 second round SuperDraft pick.Resting on the laurels of a successful 2017 season if the Fire wish to keep trending upwards, they need to do the aforementioned and add additional depth in defense and possible a strike mate for Nikolic—something they did not do last season and will need to do to move forward past step #7.