OTF Roundtable: One Prediction


The “Original Recipe” OTF Roundtable returns. Preseason practice has begun, the team looks considerably younger and (dare we say it), there are even some signs of hope. Even some of OTF’s perma-skeptics may be coming around to the team … maybe.

Today’s roundtable question:

What is one prediction about the 2016 Fire season that you are sure will come true?

Jon Denham

Prediction: April 30 and August 24 are going to be frustrating.

Why, you ask? The MLS schedule has Chicago playing DC United for the first time in 2016 on April 30 and then L.A. Galaxy on August 24. These two matches are going to be reminders of previous Fire squads.

A swirl of emotions will take over as fans recall the threatening speed of Patrick Nyarko and a young Chris Rolfe tucking home meaningful goals. Nyarko will get an on-camera moment with the old teammates in the tunnel or the pre-game handshake line. Rolfe’s hair will bounce its way towards the end line. At some point, DC’s transition from “worst to first” a couple years ago will make you grit your teeth.

When the Galaxy arrive at Toyota Park, many will stare at Mike Magee and wonder what might have been. A few more will have the same thoughts about Dan Gargan. We’ll tip our cap to Jeff Larentowicz, who wore the captain’s armband and earned the respect of so many around him. His spot kicks and transition to center back will stick out as memories. The stars surrounding the Galaxy’s crest will serve as a reminder of the ultimate goal at the league level — MLS Cup.

Certainly fans will know by late August what type of manager Veljko Paunovic is. They also may be celebrating a “big” summer signing. (Editor’s Note: Yeah, we’ll see about that).

There are plenty of unanswered questions in the preseason, sure, but these emotions are coming. Shake your head, pound your first, and honor the efforts these guys put forward during their time in Chicago. The frustration may only last a few moments, but it will be there.



Roberto Diaz

Prediction: No matter if the results are much better or much worse, there will finally be a feeling of REAL hope around our beloved club.

Paunovic is already off to a much better start than any coach I can remember. From interacting with fans on Twitter to going out to team events, and even attending a Chicago Bulls game where he was interviewed by CSN; Pauno’s arrival finally gives the club a vocal and recognizable leader. Paunovic’s visibility in the community isn’t the only reason to believe in the Fire again.

Chicago added the best available outside back in the draft (a player who just happened to be invited to the USMNT camp before he was drafted) and the team’s core players are all under the age of 27. It gives me some hope that, if given the proper amount of time to work on this youth project, Pauno and GM Nelson Rodriguez can take us back to much happier times.

Can’t wait to step back into Toyota Park. 2016 is the beginning of the era of new hope!


Pauno & Mirotic



George Gorecki

Prediction: 2016 Chicago Fire will be organized.
The one thing that will come true for the Chicago Fire in 2016 is that they will play an organized brand of possession soccer. Coach Paunovic utilized this approach when coaching Serbia’s U-20 team. This video shows an exercise where players move the ball out of the back. If Paunovic can get the Fire to do this, they will be a joy to watch. No one will miss the “hit and hope” style of play.
Paunovic’s influence on his new team was evident from the first day of training. Harry Shipp noticed the difference in his coach’s preparation, as the players were presented with a minute-by-minute breakdown of the elements of their training session.
How effective will this style of play be? That’s a huge question and will be the key to determining whether the Fire have a successful season. Can Rodriguez find quality veteran players who will fit into this style? A veteran player who understands the value of keeping the ball and who can teach this lesson to his younger teammates will be an integral member of Chicago’s roster.



Scott Fenwick
Prediction: Chicago Fire will not make the 2016 MLS playoffs.

Chicago Fire will not make the 2016 MLS playoffs.

Juan Santoliva

Prediction: Fire miss the playoffs… but it’ll be close!

Chicago, so far, seems to have improved and there’s still more signings to come. They already have the promising young guns in Matt Polster, Shipp and now U.S. camp invitee Brandon Vincent. There’s also the what-we-call veterans in Gilberto, Michael Stephens and Eric Gehrig to help pave the way.

Potential is there with the right signings but Chicago is not quite ready to play with the big boys.

Yes, last season was a mess. Yes, Frank Yallop lost respect in the locker room. And yes, the home kit was awful (sponsor included). This season is a fresh start. Chicago has a new coach and GM that actually have a vision that players seem to be buying in to. And what about that kit?! The white stripe is back and the fan base is slowly crawling back to the team.

Morale will be high, but it will not be enough to get that 8th and final spot.

As I mentioned before, the team looks promising. They’ll have Gilberto for a full preseason and David Accam hopefully won’t start off with an injury. Both are deadly attacking options that will produce more goals and make the race for the final spot interesting.

The team will still have defensive miscues that will cost points and give other teams a chance to leapfrog us — I’m not convinced this year’s defense will gel quickly enough to help win games, but do think they are on track.
The optimist in mean hopes for a 6th or 7th place spot but we can’t push for that quite yet. Baby steps.



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You can read more OTF Roundtables in The Archive.

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