The 2014 MLS Regular Season is almost here, and that means Three Questions is back! With Chivas USA hosting the Chicago Fire in the season opener Sunday afternoon, I thought it would be good to ask a Fire expert to tell us about the visitors. So please welcome Sean Spence of SB Nation Fire blog Hot Time in Old Town, and thanks to him for taking the time to answer my questions!
The Goat Parade asks Hot Time in Old Town:
1. Chicago enter the 2014 season with a new head coach, Frank Yallop. What was the general reaction to the appointment, and what do you think Yallop can bring to the Fire this season?
The reaction in Chicago was mostly shock, not because Yallop was brought in, but because he was brought in so quickly. In years past, the Fire front office had acquired a reputation for dithering over big decisions like this one - this time, owner Andrew Hauptman acted decisively, giving Yallop the keys to the club.
Yallop has begun his time in Chicago by enthusiastically remaking the Fire roster with a basic template of experience in the back, youth in the front. He's got the team playing compact, enterprising football in preseason. So far, what he's brought is a sense of coherence and hope.
2. It's the first game of the season, and with every team bringing players in and out, can you tell us some of the notable additions to the squad for 2014?
This is a very different roster than in 2013, although the starting XI may not be astoundingly different. Last season, the bench was frequently populated by veterans like Joel Lindpere, Wells Thompson and Maicon Santos.
Besides the new starters in defense - Lovel Palmer and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado - the depth of the team is almost exclusively youth. College Cup MVP Harrison Shipp, from Notre Dame, signed with the Fire as a Homegrown player, along with Northwestern deep-lying playmaker Chris Ritter. Chicago also won a weighted lottery for possibly the most exciting young player on the roster, former USA U20 captain Benji Joya, a vibrant box-to-box midfielder. There's a lot to look forward to from this roster, which is another answer to your first question.
3. Mike Magee went to the Fire early last season in a trade, and had a fantastic season for his hometown club, snagging the MVP award in the process. Do you expect he'll have the same impact on the field in his second season with Chicago?
I think Mike will be the best player on this team, and will likely lead the team in scoring. He's intelligent, passionate, and unyielding, and I expect all of those traits to be on display routinely for the Fire. But 2013 was one of the most startling individual single-season performances in MLS history; Magee's arrival transformed one of the worst teams in the league into one of the best, or at least one of the toughest to beat. This squad is a better squad. Magee's reversion to the mean will be cushioned by all his promising, young teammates. I'd guess 10 goals, 8 assists.
4. (Bonus) Prediction for the game?
2-0 Chicago, with goals from Duka and Soumare. (Hey, no one looks smart predicting goals for Magee.)
Find my answers to Sean's questions about Chivas USA here.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!