In their own rebuilding, the Chicago Fire earn a landmark win
CHICAGO – Most times the use of the word “rebuilding” in the Windy City concerns some part of the city’s infrastructure.
Now it’s become a popular catchphrase among Chicago’s professional sports teams.
The Cubs completed their five-year plan with a World Series title last November. Meanwhile the Bears are in the third season of their retooling of the franchise while the White Sox have just begun reshape their franchise to make a run for the top in a couple of seasons.
Each of those teams had their moments this weekend. First round pick Mitchell Trubisky put on a Bears’ jersey for the first time this weekend for rookie mini-camp while coveted youngster Ian Happ debuted for the Cubs in St. Louis. Meanwhile the White Sox collected two of their better wins of the 2017 season against the Padres at Guaranteed Rate Field.
But the most significant step taken by a rebuilding team this week might have come at Toyota Park on Saturday night. That’s when the signs of something big in the future began to come into focus in Bridgeview.
Hosting the defending Major League Soccer champion Seattle Sounders in front of a sellout crowd, the Fire delivered a stirring finish to pick up one of their biggest wins of a new era of their franchise. A trio of goals in the final 45 minutes gave the team a 4-1 win and improves their record to 4-3-3 on the season.
At the moment, second year head coach Veljko Paunovic’s team occupies the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference in the very early part of the season. This still represents an accomplishment for the franchise who hasn’t been in the postseason since the 2012 season.
The Seattle win reinforces the improvement the team has made following a number of additions by general manager Nelson Rodriguez, who has been charged with the resurrecting a team that made the playoffs in 11 of their first 12 seasons.
Offseason acquisitions of forward Nemanja Nikolic, midfielders Juninho and Dax McCarty gained some attention, but the acquisition German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger took it to another level. The World Cup champion’s arrival in Chicago garnered international attention – and so far has paid off.
Schweinsteiger has a pair of goals and assists in his seven games this season while Nikolic is tied for the MLS lead in scores with eight. He had the first and last goals of Saturday night’s triumph over the sounders which improved the Fire to 3-0-1 at home.
It’s a long way from an MLS Cup championship, which came in the second year of the franchise back in 1998. But as the Fire celebrate their 20th anniversary, the win on Saturday shows this story of rebuilding in Chicago can’t be ignored in the city’s professional landscape.