Here is something unfortunate about Major League Soccer previews: things are moving fast, right up to first kick.
So as a writer, you do the research, put in the work and then write your words. But then someone signs on the dotted line, a press release spins quickly through the cycle and voila! Don’t look now, but that preview you doted on so diligently is obsolete.
Let me give you a solid “for instance.” Here’s what I wrote just days ago about the Chicago Fire:
Question marks still dot the back line, where veteran Cory Gibbs and second-year man Jalil Anibaba are the current starting central duo. Gibbs is prone to bad challenges, the kind that MLS has promised to crack down on this year. (But haven’t we heard that before?) And the versatile Anibaba remains a work in progress. As such, Klopas hopes to add another center back soon to shore up the position. …
Well I suppose they showed me. Good thing I left myself a little wiggle room with the reference to a potential signing at center back.
And what a signing it is, announced by the club Wednesday afternoon. Longtime Bundesliga veteran Arne Friedrich has 82 appearances for Germany, including places on the team for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups in addition to the 2004 and 2008 European Championships.
He’s played all across the back line in his career (mostly spent at Hertha Berlin) but will almost certainly police the center back spot at Toyota Park.
It’s a great signing for manager Frank Klopas and the Fire. I had them situated third in the East in my preseason selections, based largely on that 7-2-1 dash to end 2011. Chicago’s late, heroic reach for the post-season fell just short, but it certainly got things pointed in the right direction for 2012.
Yes, there are some concerns about back issues Friedrich has had lately. But don’t forget that Chicago graded out quite well in the draft by most accounts. Grabbing highly regarded Louisville center back Austin Berry was one reason, so there’s depth in place.