A phoenix rising from its own ashes? The Chicago Fire FC’s new 2020 vision

by Will Dancer / Staff Reporter

New Head Coach Raphaël Wicky holding up a scarf of the team’s new colors and logo. Photo courtesy of mlssoccer.com.

A new year of American soccer brings about many changes for MLS. In order to further grow fan bases throughout North America, the league has introduced two new teams for the 2020 season, Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC. While raising interest in up-and-coming teams is good for the league, maintaining excitement towards struggling teams remains an issue. 

All too familiar with struggling recently, the Chicago Fire has not been a serious contender for nearly a decade. Between 2010 and 2019 the Fire only made the playoffs twice, losing in the knockout round both times. However, the team is back again with a new look, new logo, new coach, new stadium, many new players and brand new expectations for success.

Most interestingly, the team has undergone quite the drastic stylistic change for the 2020 season. The replacement of its old color scheme of predominantly red, white and blue to a dark bluish-purple with hints of red and yellow caught many fans off guard.

 Yet, the team’s new logo is what left most people scratching their heads. Seemingly a take on a more stripped-down and modern design, the abstract fire emblem incorporating prominent gold coloring was a huge turn-around for the club. While some fans came out in support, others were critical of the alterations. However, if the team is really aiming for a fresh start, then a more contemporary logo and uniform makes sense for embracing that new team identity. 

Taking over the head coaching position is the newly acquired ex-Swiss midfielder, Raphaël Wicky. A man who has decades worth of both playing and managing experience, Wicky arrives as the Fire’s head coach after a short stint coaching the United States’ U17 team, as well as managing various youth teams in Switzerland throughout the 2010s. Wicky was described in an article by SBNation as “intense, but positive” and “demanding, but thoughtful.” Fans appear to hope Wicky, along with new owner Joe Mansueto, won’t be yet another short-lived head coach. Since 2010, the Fire has seen six head coaching changes.

Additionally, the Fire has once again secured its home stadium at Soldier Field. Returning to downtown Chicago was no doubt an attempt to generate audience attendance to games. Its former home, Seatgeek Stadium in Bridgeview, put the Fire dead last in attendance for the entire 2019 season. The Fire will bump up to the fifth largest venue in the league at Soldier Field. A return to the stadium, coupled with the team’s new logo and jersey, signifies attempts to encourage old fans to give the Fire another try. Additionally, the location and the stadium’s history acts to entice fans of other Chicago sports teams to back the Fire. 

The most worrisome offseason changes come with the copious amount of coming and going of old and new players. According to Alex Campbell of mlssccer.com, “14 players from last season have left the club, including all three Designated Players. As it stands, 12 new players have been acquired to take their places with more likely on the way.” 

This massive overhaul is predicated on the expectation that the Fire has somehow found a whole new squad of players that can work well in a system with one another. Many overseas players have been acquired since the beginning of this season with the plan that they can form a successful roster after losing both veteran leaders Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger. 

All-in-all, this season for the Chicago Fire will not be make-or-break for the team, but the uncertainty of how it plans to make its mark remains vague. While a new coach and new stadium are both steps in the right direction, the influx of new players operating under a new system may confirm that there will be an adjustment period before any real success is achieved. Whether that adjustment period will be a few months or a few years, Fire fans can only hope to be quietly optimistic for a 2020 playoff appearance. 

A new year of American soccer brings about many changes for MLS. In order to further grow fan bases throughout North America, the league has introduced two new teams for the 2020 season, Inter Miami CF and Nashville SC. While raising interest in up-and-coming teams is good for the league, maintaining excitement towards struggling teams remains an issue. 

All too familiar with struggling recently, the Chicago Fire has not been a serious contender for nearly a decade. Between 2010 and 2019 the Fire only made the playoffs twice, losing in the knockout round both times. However, the team is back again with a new look, new logo, new coach, new stadium, many new players and brand new expectations for success.

Most interestingly, the team has undergone quite the drastic stylistic change for the 2020 season. The replacement of its old color scheme of predominantly red, white and blue to a dark bluish-purple with hints of red and yellow caught many fans off guard.

 Yet, the team’s new logo is what left most people scratching their heads. Seemingly a take on a more stripped-down and modern design, the abstract fire emblem incorporating prominent gold coloring was a huge turn-around for the club. While some fans came out in support, others were critical of the alterations. However, if the team is really aiming for a fresh start, then a more contemporary logo and uniform makes sense for embracing that new team identity. 

Taking over the head coaching position is the newly acquired ex-Swiss midfielder, Raphaël Wicky. A man who has decades worth of both playing and managing experience, Wicky arrives as the Fire’s head coach after a short stint coaching the United States’ U17 team, as well as managing various youth teams in Switzerland throughout the 2010s. Wicky was described in an article by SBNation as “intense, but positive” and “demanding, but thoughtful.” Fans appear to hope Wicky, along with new owner Joe Mansueto, won’t be yet another short-lived head coach. Since 2010, the Fire has seen six head coaching changes.

Additionally, the Fire has once again secured its home stadium at Soldier Field. Returning to downtown Chicago was no doubt an attempt to generate audience attendance to games. Its former home, Seatgeek Stadium in Bridgeview, put the Fire dead last in attendance for the entire 2019 season. The Fire will bump up to the fifth largest venue in the league at Soldier Field. A return to the stadium, coupled with the team’s new logo and jersey, signifies attempts to encourage old fans to give the Fire another try. Additionally, the location and the stadium’s history acts to entice fans of other Chicago sports teams to back the Fire. 

The most worrisome offseason changes come with the copious amount of coming and going of old and new players. According to Alex Campbell of mlssccer.com, “14 players from last season have left the club, including all three Designated Players. As it stands, 12 new players have been acquired to take their places with more likely on the way.” 

This massive overhaul is predicated on the expectation that the Fire has somehow found a whole new squad of players that can work well in a system with one another. Many overseas players have been acquired since the beginning of this season with the plan that they can form a successful roster after losing both veteran leaders Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger. 

All-in-all, this season for the Chicago Fire will not be make-or-break for the team, but the uncertainty of how it plans to make its mark remains vague. While a new coach and new stadium are both steps in the right direction, the influx of new players operating under a new system may confirm that there will be an adjustment period before any real success is achieved. Whether that adjustment period will be a few months or a few years, Fire fans can only hope to be quietly optimistic for a 2020 playoff appearance. 

However, with the recent news of MLS, among the majority of other sports leagues, postponing the season for an unspecified amount of time, a shortened season with fewer games available to make the playoffs would really hurt the rebuilding Fire who needs as many games as it can get. On the off chance that the season doesn’t return, it would be a disappointing start to a new era for Chicago soccer.



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