The Chicago Fire have certainly rang the changes this off-season. What started with a change at the very top, with Joe Mansueto taking full control of the club, continued with Veljko Paunovic’s dismissal, and is now finishing off with a big squad overhaul.
All of this was happening as the club moved from their soccer-specific SeatGeek Stadium and going back to the NFL venue Soldier Field. And last, but not least, the club also changed its logo, something which unlike the other changes, was met by a wave of disproval from most fans.
These changes clearly indicate that the new Chicago Fire attempts to start with a clean slate. Most fans agree that there is nothing wrong with this as changes are completely normal in sport. After all, Chicago has always been viewed as a hotbed of soccer talent and the city definitely deserves a soccer team challenging for top honours year-in year-out. Chicago Fire fans want more than anyone to see their team top of the standings and being the favourite to win with sports betting sites such as NetBet.
However, all of these changes would also mean that the people at the very helm of the Fire admit that the SeatGeek Stadium, and to some extent the Veljko Paunovic eras were both failures. There is strong evidence that this is indeed the case.
Returning to the Old Stadium
It was evident that Mansueto was far from happy from what he saw last season. So he rang the changes as soon as he could. Returning to the successful path the Fire were on back in the early 2000s was probably top of his agenda.
Back then, and this is the period immediately before the Fire left their Soldier Field home in 2005, they were not part of the playoffs only once in eight years and regularly hosted more than 17,000 people.
In contrast, during the four years in which Paunovic was coach, the team made the playoffs only once and boasted an average attendance of only around 10,000 fans. Compare that with the more than 40,000 fans which regularly watch the Seattle Sounders and you can see the reasoning behind the new chairman deciding to move back to the Fire’s old home.
Complete Roster Changes
It is probably clear to the new owner that if the Fire would to get anywhere near the level that the Sounders are playing at, he would have to change not just the stadium, logo, and coach, but also quite a lot of the players too. And that’s exactly what he ordered his people to do.
The Fire currently has only 16 players under contract and that’s because they only picked up their options on two players, CJ Sapong and Raheem Edwards. This means that a group of no less than 8 players saw their options being declined. This includes names such as Nicolas Gaitan, Diego Campos, Aleksandar Katai, David Ousted, Richard Sanchez, Amando Moreno, Stefan Cleveland, and Elliot Collier.
This move was greeted with support from most fans especially as it relieved the club from four of its five top earners. These bold moves mean that the club is finally moving into the future with a certain strategy. Except for the logo of course.