The 2020 offseason was a scramble for Chicago Fireplace FC.
After an possession change, rebrand and stadium relocation, sporting director Georg Heitz wasn’t formally employed till mid-December. In turn, head coach Raphael Wicky wasn’t appointed till a couple of days earlier than the turn of the new year, thus just a few weeks earlier than preseason. The new sporting group totally embarked upon their offseason duties lengthy after the remainder of MLS.
By the time coaching camp was about to begin, just two homegrowns and one player from overseas have been signed. One other 9 players can be acquired, together with all three Designated Gamers, then one other 5 homegrown signings, after mid-January. It was basically half the roster.
This winter has been much more regular, with solely three signings for the 2021 season (thus far), all wrapped up and introduced three months in the past. Compared to 2020, the incoming switch list is remarkably concise.
“We’re very excited we’ve a big core of the group back,” Wicky informed media on a digital press conference. “We consider in continuity, we consider on this group, that’s why we didn’t change too many players. I’m excited that we’re not ranging from scratch like a year in the past.”
Offseason no extra 🔥
WE ARE BACK. pic.twitter.com/EsNori9qBz
— Chicago Fireplace FC (@ChicagoFire) March 1, 2021
That continuity and pure development, with a number of key tweaks, make Chicago consider they’re going to finish above the playoff line for just the second time since 2012. They finished eleventh within the Japanese Conference standings a season in the past, the last team to overlook out on a postseason spot.
“We’re assured we’ll do higher this year than we did last year,” said Heitz.
Chicago added Bulgarian winger Stanislav Ivanov, Ecuadorian defender Jhon Espinoza and Nigerian forward Chinonso Offor this winter. They reflect the membership’s need to scout globally, leaving no stone unturned when looking for additions.
“I’m really assured (within the signings),” Heitz said. “We knew early what we needed position-wise, we knew early who we needed. We established a scouting division early last year, so the new recruits are a results of this.”
New faces’ first day.
Espinoza, 22 🇪🇨
Offor, 20 🇳🇬
Ivanov, 21 🇧🇬 pic.twitter.com/05KORUL8mk
— Chicago Fireplace FC (@ChicagoFire) March 2, 2021
In a league with such parity, effective margins profoundly affect positions within the total table. Chicago dropped 11 points from winning positions in 2020, seventh-most in MLS. They finished one point beneath the final playoff place, a tricky blow in Wicky’s first year on the helm.
“The goal of reaching the playoffs is what everyone desires, so we’ve the identical goal as all the opposite teams,” Wicky said. “We constructed some really good foundations last year, clearly there’s moments we have to enhance. We let by a 2-1 or 1-0 (lead) to draw video games. We have to tighten up within the back so there are much less moments, perhaps on corner kicks or set pieces. However we laid an excellent basis last year, we’re in a position to construct upon that this season.”