2018 vs. 2019: Comparing the Chicago Fire nine games into the season

Through their first nine games in 2019, the Chicago Fire have earned nine points from two victories, three draws and four losses. (Chicago Fire Soccer Club)

By Ernesto Hernandez

 

The 2019 season for the Chicago Fire has not gone off to the start that Nelson Rodriguez and Veljko Paunovic would have hoped. Despite improving the roster by bringing in players like David Ousted, Marcelo, CJ Sapong, and a marquee name in Nicolas Gaitán, the results on the field have yet to show that improvement.

In fact, when comparing this team to the one from 2018, the Fire are actually worse off than last season.

Through nine games in 2018, the Fire had a record of 3W-2D-4L which translated to a total of 11 points. Through the same nine games this season, they hold a record of 2W-3D-4L which is a total of 9 points. Record-wise, the team is two points worse off than they were last season, having played the same number of games.

There are other similarities as well. Chicago’s played one fewer home game as compared to last season but have only managed to win two of those games. Making SeatGeek Stadium, formerly Toyota Park, a fortress, is still something the Fire have been unable to do.

Looking a bit further into the numbers, they’ve scored and conceded one fewer goal than last season, a rather disappointing figure considering the Fire acquired a lot of pieces in order to improve both their offense and defense.

One may be asking why this is significant or why it matters. It matters because one of the constants heard at the tail end of the season was that the Fire were an incomplete team all season and a focus going into this season was to improve the team in all areas of the pitch. On paper, it seemed that they did. That they are actually worse this season is tremendously disconcerting.

The losses of both Brandon Vincent and Matt Polster definitely hurt and weakened the team, but those were departures the team was aware of at the end of 2018. To replace Vincent, they got Marcelo but they failed in finding an adequate replacement for Polster and we’ve seen how much the Fire are lacking in terms of their fullbacks.

Again, on paper, the signings made by the front office should have made Chicago a more competitive team than last season. Right now they seem to be going through the same issues that we saw last year despite having an improved roster.

The MLS season is well underway now and it’s no longer early. If the Fire can’t turn things around quickly, missing out on the playoffs is a real possibility. They currently sit three points behind NYCFC for the final playoff spot.

The 2018 Fire finished the season in 10th place. The 2019 Fire need to get better or risk finishing near the bottom at the end of the season. For a team built like this one, it would be a massive disappointment.

 

 

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