Despite the Chicago Fire’s awful record through 12 MLS rounds, there’s still enough to like about Frank Klopas’ club.
Sean Johnson remains young, but the goalkeeping situation is adequate, at least, with the young U.S. international around.
Chicago’s back line will surely stabilize once Arne Friedrich returns; you could argue that the German veteran’s prolonged absence is at the heart of Chicago’s struggles. Plus, Bakary Soumare’s arrival into Toyota Park – his second go-round with the club –will add depth.
Klopas still needs to sort out the midfield mix, but it’s not like there isn’t talent there. What’s lacking is the role identification and the balance.
And then there is the forward play. There’s your big issue around Toyota Park. Chicago’s six goals in 10 matches is 18th among 19 teams in MLS; only D.C. United is worse.
Extrapolated over an entire season, Chicago would set an all-time league record for goal scoring futility in MLS.
That’s why Mike Magee’s arrival via trade with Los Angeles is a good move for Klopas’ club. They desperately need to improve scoring punch, and Magee will help. He may not be the ultimate answer, but the man in such good form at the Home Depot Center, among the league leaders this year with six goals, can only help.
They still need a high-scoring striker around Bridgeview, but Magee is a stop-gap who can play alongside a front-line man, the way he did with Robbie Keane in L.A., or he can play wide in the midfield to good effect.
While 11 goals over the past two season may not look like a bunch, those are numbers that certainly beat Sherjill MacDonald’s production. The Fire’s Dutch DP remains on the hunt for his first goal of 2013.
Those who might be tempted to say that Magee’s success around the Galaxy was mostly about the talented men around him – David Beckham until this year, plus Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane – haven’t paid attention in 2013. Magee’s production has mostly been without those figures around to distract defenders and deflect attention from himself.
In fact, Magee’s ability to pick up goals earlier this year, when Donovan was still away, is exactly what helped Bruce Arena’s Galaxy build a good, early start to its first season since 2006 without Beckham around.