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Discussion
Not the best month but far from the worst month, 1 loss in 6 really isn't too bad.

Congrats on the belated award from Argentina
Current story - Viva la Beta
Thanks @bigmattb28 for the continued support, lets see how the season panned out...

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End of Season 2035


Now, in the last update the intention was to update again mid-way through the season, but things quickly became clear we were a mediocre side and one that was underperforming too, as evidenced by...

https://i.imgur.com/7bv5fSR.png?1

https://i.imgur.com/XWnmtLd.png?1

https://i.imgur.com/IdtIW4d.png?1


Yep, that's three times during the season where my job was called into question, where each game could've been my last.

MLS


https://i.imgur.com/jUDcLOI.png?2

https://i.imgur.com/ty283OS.png?1


A quick look at the fixture list shows that we struggled to put together any sort of good form. We'd win one then we'd lose one, very rarely would a result repeat itself over the course of the season. Furthermore, I'll put my hands up and say there was mismanagement of the squad, which will be covered in the squad review. Towards the back end of the season we looked a much better side, a tactical change to a positive vertical tiki-take went some way to helping with this, allowing us to make a late push at the end of the year.

https://i.imgur.com/cxVt7dI.png?1


A push which did see us qualify for the post-season, even sitting as high as 3rd at a point! To me this shows movement in the right direction after we narrowly missed out last year.

US Cup


https://i.imgur.com/jUVOB8Z.png?1


Having made it to the Semi Final of last season's US Cup I was confident that we could perhaps go one further this season.

A comfortable win against Nashville got our run underway before a penalty shootout win against Minnesota took us into the Quarter Final. A narrow loss against D.C. United ended any hopes of silverware for another year.

MLS Playoffs


https://i.imgur.com/sAWKjry.png?1


Our Playoff draw pitted us against NYCFC in a game that could've gone either way, and looking at the stats you could say we were unlucky. Bossing possession and dominating the shot count suggests we were in the driver's seat, but a bad challenge from Overgard saw the defender receive his marching orders and less than five minutes later the hosts made the man-advantage count, ending our season and halting our late-season momentum.

Squad Review


https://i.imgur.com/XAwYitT.png?1


I mentioned previously that part of our bad season is due to my poor management of the team, but parts were also due to injury. Before the season had started I made the decision to cut a lot of players from the squad and loan academy graduates and previous draft picks out to see them develop, I realised soon that this left me with a bare bones squad. Towards the end of the season we were hit with a lot of injuries and international call-ups seeing me field a bench entirely of defenders.

We were also hurt by players not performing well, only four averaged over a seven rating.

In goal, both Gray and Perez were rotated and performed equally. Ideally I'd let Perez go in the off-season and sign a cheaper, homegrown 'keeper.

The defence was shaky this year. Luciano and Obinna were the usual starting pair, but when the latter left for AFCON duties, Herrin stepped up well.

The midfield played well for the most part, although nobody stood out. Christoffersen was largely disappointing but a lot of this is due to those around him not firing.

This brings me on to the strikers and I've never seen anything like this. How Sargent is still scoring over twenty goals is beyond me, but its certainly changed my opinion on him. Muller was resurgent at the end of the season, but this isn't enough to save him, he's got to go. Jimmy Clayden wins the award for possibly the worst signing made by anyone ever, twenty-eight games without a single goal and only two assists to go with the countless misses over the year; genuinely I've never seen a player so bad in all my years. Big reshape needed.

Next Update


Off-Season 2035
Off-Season 2035


Last season was horrific to say the least, painful in areas and an absolute nightmare for the most part. Work was needed to sure up the side, so without further ado lets look at the off-season's work.

https://i.imgur.com/WpJiPOm.png?1


December Waiver Draft


At the end of the season, clubs are required to guarantee contracts for next season and protect players from being drafted. With this being said, teams can use this as an immediate means of strengthening their sides before setting their sights on major off-season targets.

https://i.imgur.com/AiKwur0.png?1


Chris Begay - 19, DL - with a full season of MLS football to his name already at the age of nineteen, I was surprised to see the Dynamo fail to protect him for the coming season. Alongside Jones, this gives us two good young left-backs to challenge Overgard, but the future and the depth in this position looks bright.

https://i.imgur.com/n8vSJF0.png?1


Harrison Fenton - 25, ST - with Muller and Clayden not performing last season, there were times when a fourth option would have been a lovely thing to have and this is what Harrison is here to be. He won't start, he will barely make the bench but what he will do is provide depth to a squad that needs it.

https://i.imgur.com/QTUjSF8.png?1


Jack Farnsworth - 25, DR - a common theme with December Waiver Draft players is that they aren't exactly starting calibre. Jack joins to provide depth at right-back and become our nailed on second-choice. With just shy of two-hundred professional games to his name he offers experience behind Vitor, without pushing to start.

MLS SuperDraft


I'll say it from the start here, we did not have a good SuperDraft. Last year's draft set a high standard for me, trading for the number one pick perhaps isn't something that can be done every year. The likes of Muller and Clayden were both traded away for picks and future considerations as the squad was reshaped. I had my eyes on a young 'keeper projected as a Top 5 pick and thankfully our trades saw us occupy fourth. However, he eventually went second making my sole target off the board, leading to the following draftees...

https://i.imgur.com/MQJ7Oxd.png?1


Guillermo Velazquez - 21, MC - with my top target gone I asked the assistant who he'd pick. Generation Adidas midfielder Velazquez was his option and I failed to see a better option. Plenty of room to grow, he'll provide depth in the midfield this season.

https://i.imgur.com/sv2udkb.png?1


Efrain Bernal - 21, GK - third choice, homegrown goalkeeper, nothing more, nothing less. Hopefully he doesn't play for me this season.

https://i.imgur.com/JZXzk7K.png?1


Jose Luis de la Cruz - 21, DR - more depth at the back, again should hope to not see him start any games this year.

Transfer Window


Mamadou Beugre - 19, ML
- if we want to be a better side this year we'd have to improve across the board, that's obvious. Chris Adams had been my starting left-mid since my arrival solely because he was an academy graduate. Sentiment has no place if we're looking to be serious contenders and so Beugre was bought in from ASEC to fill this spot. Six games in and he's yet to set the league alight, but perhaps I've rushed him into the team and he needs to settle.

https://i.imgur.com/x1rBIiD.png?1


Luis Maldonado - 20, ST - I was close to signing Luis permanently during the summer, but Marseille came in after us with a larger fee and higher wages. No complaints from me, can't hold it against the player. Instead then, I loaned him in for the year. I look at him as a better version of Clayden, mind it'd be tough to be worse. I'm looking to use his raw pace off the bench to see games out and already he's done better than his Irish predecessor.

https://i.imgur.com/n0OSr8o.png?1


Paul Collins - 22, ST - I don't know how or why but we've ended up with another International Slot for the year, which I decided to use to get Collins on loan from Liverpool for the year. On paper he looks to be a starter for us alongside Sargent and he can't be worse than those before him. For both him and Maldonado it'll take some time for partnerships to be formed but I have no doubt they can do good for us once they're fully firing.

MLS


https://i.imgur.com/HfPVmm2.png?1


Same old Chicago... Two wins from our first two games and looking good for it, followed by a no-show against an NYCFC side that we're probably equal to, then letting this affect our form as an average Portland side saw us off comfortably. A nil-nil draw against New York Red Bulls saw us register just one shot on target, a ninetieth minute clear-cut chance that was hit straight at the 'keeper. Back to wining ways against Philadelphia saw us dominate throughout yet failed to make any of our chances from open-play count, only a Reyes penalty secured three points.

https://i.imgur.com/hS75zUb.png?1


Six games in and we sit fifth in our division, though only three points (and eight goals) are between us and second. I'm not sure what to expect for this season. We've improved marginally season-on-season and I'd hope to do so again this year and be slightly better than the mediocrity we've shown.

Next Update

Mid-Season Review
Unlucky there against NYC that red cost you the game really. Hopefully this coming season you can press on
Current story - Viva la Beta
Thanks for the continued support @bigmattb28, the red certainly did kill us off!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note: Firstly, let me apologise for the lack of recent updates, getting back to Uni has seen FM take a back seat but I'm still playing when I get the time!

End of Regular Season 2036


When we last touched base, the plan was to come back and see the progress come the halfway stage of the 2036 Season, but there was really little to talk about as the season quickly went wayward.

Major League Soccer


https://i.imgur.com/tvrodnh.png?1


The first half of the 2036 Regular Season saw our form look shaky.

Moving into April we looked like a side that couldn't buy a goal. Four games played, one goal scored. Yet on the plus side we kept an impressive four cleansheets. But not scoring goals hurt our league position during this period.

Things went from ok to terrible quickly during May. It became very clear that the project in its current set-up was failing, we couldn't score and when we did it was looking like a case of "when would we throw the lead away?" as ties against New England, Minnesota and Seattle both saw us give up a lead. By the end of the month, the board had started to notice a singe win our last nine games.

Heading into June we had to gain 10 points from 5 games to shake the board off of my back, and a poor win over a bad LAFC side got us off to a good start, before a real game-of-two-halves against Houston saw us go from looking like world-beaters to looking like a Sunday-league side. A common theme despite this was the continued lack of goals.

July would be our proverbial judgement day. A scrappy win against Real Salt Lake continued our resurgence and a lucky draw against San Jose followed. Thankfully a poor NYCFC side would be our final match of the run in and we managed to come through come the end of the ninety minutes. The fixture list was seemingly in our favour, but during this time we switched away from the 4-1-2-1-2 to a 4-3-3, though this didn't last long either...

Mid-Season Transfers


Outs


As I had said, the current iteration of the squad wasn't performing as I had hoped it would and I'll have to take the blame on that front. So, I decided to do something that I rarely do - shake up the squad mid-season. This meant that all of our DPs and International Players had to be looked at. Sargent wasn't playing well at all, Christoffersen looked nothing like the player I hoped he would be, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

https://i.imgur.com/xnRdbUs.png?1


Bo Christoffersen - £8million (rising to £10+million) to West Ham United - signed to be the player to make us tick, Bo occupied not only an International Slot but a DP slot too - he had to either start performing or go. He never really got going for us and a quick profit was made on the player. His departure frees up a lot of possibilities for the squad going forward.

https://i.imgur.com/iAWcErW.png?1


Jude Obinna - Released - Jude was the first DP player I signed in Chicago. Experienced internationally and in Europe, I thought he would be a solid defender for us whilst we bridged the gap. To be fair, he was. But now well into his thirties and occupying both a DP and International Slot, getting him off the books will open up a World of options.

https://i.imgur.com/SKK39I4.png?1


Derek Gray - Released - Derek is a good player, let's get that right from the off. For whatever reason it wasn't working out for him and there isn't much between him and Perez. At the beginning of the season I was rejecting bids from Celtic for the Scot, but as the time came to cast my eye on the squad I realised I had to cut some International Players from the squad to free room for others to come in. Having said that, and with him not far off what we already have, the decision was made to release him and he subsequently joined New England almost immediately.

Ins


Now this is where the penny dropped for me with regards to where I am in this career and the way the MLS works. Managing in the MLS there are a number of different ways the squad registration can be looked at. Ideally, I would like a squad of good, American players on Senior Contracts. An International Slot can be used to fill holes in the squad, but rarely will you get a star quality International Player on a Senior Contract. Designated Players are where you focus your efforts, and I've come to realise that an International DP (an International Player on a Designated Contract) should be avoided or kept to a minimum unless you're sure of their ability.

Furthermore, I'm now at a point where I've climbed the leagues from bottom to top and I'm now on a 'farwell' tour of sorts. What this means is that there will be former players out there who still want to play for me, and that are also still good players...

https://i.imgur.com/LSiQ5qR.png?1


El Hadji Camara - 24, MC - signed on a free transfer from Leicester City, I'm reunited with one of the prodigal sons of Juventus. I originally signed Camara as a sixteen year-old and from then he was an ever present in my Juventus side, but he never fulfilled his potential. Instead, after I left he was shipped off to Leicester where he failed to gain consistent game time. The Foxes released him and his affection for me was enough to get him on board. He's still a very well rounded, physical midfielder with all the ability and then some for this level. If I have to exploit previous players to succeed here, then I will.

https://i.imgur.com/qu9oJtz.png?1


Krunoslav Monjac - 20, DC - replacing Obinna at the back, but not occupying a DP slot, Krunoslav joins from (yep, you guessed it) Juventus after I signed him as a youngster. His time in Turin was spent mostly with the Under 23s in Serie B and this has helped shape him into a good player, with room still to grow. He's good in the areas he needs to be good in and is equally as good as Obinna.

https://i.imgur.com/Xmwi6WJ.png?1


Ibrahim Cisse - 23, ST - the second Frenchman to join and a new DP to boot, Ibrahim is the type of marquee signing that I'm sure will fire us to new heights. Incredibly gifted when it comes to finishing and dribbling, he looks leagues above the likes of Sargent, and even Muller and Clayden of years gone by. So much is his ability that PSG gave him game time at various stages of his career. I'm excited to have him here!

Major League Soccer


https://i.imgur.com/ZxO3jgg.png?1


With our form looking back on track and a change in personnel, things were looking promising going into the back half of the season. Although by the end of August it looked much like business as usual, although we were starting to score more!

An unbeaten run in September exposed the same old defensive fragilities, as we were unable to shut out opponents, yet had no problem matching them goal-for-goal. The form of Jose Reyes in this period was second to none too.

Somewhat traditionally we failed to turn up for the last month of the season, recording back-to-back-to-back losses in October, before rounding off the Regular Season with a convincing hammering of Atlanta United.

https://i.imgur.com/APuq6We.png?1


https://i.imgur.com/hyw3dpz.png?1


With this, we were good enough to finish fifth in our conference, and tenth in MLS overall. Playoffs booked and now a top ten team, progression certainly coming bit-by-bit rather than by leaps and bounds.

US Cup


https://i.imgur.com/6m5qFoa.png?1


For all our woes over the course of a regular league season, nothing can be taken away from the progress we make in the US Cup each season. Having faltered at the Semis last season, the squad was clearly determined to outdo itself this year.

Although a theme has certainly emerged in our wins this year! Level after ninety minutes in each round of the competition, we have clearly shown that we have the fitness and conditioning to see us edge opponents over one-hundred and twenty minutes. Make of that what you will about how good we are as a team and you could almost suggest we've been unlucky in the league this year.

Into the Final we went and at this point in the season Cisse was struggling for confidence and all of the good-will Josh Sargent had built up over the last two seasons wasn't enough to make me consider putting him on the bench, so in came academy graduate Alexis Martinez. On at the end of ninety minutes, the youngster would go on to bag a brace and single-handedly bring me my first piece of silverware with the Fire - a new hero, perhaps?

https://i.imgur.com/gksq4ou.png?1


https://i.imgur.com/381oZfZ.png?1


Squad Review


https://i.imgur.com/5mVm7HB.png?1


I won't dwell on the squad for too long. A quick glance at the goals, assists and average ratings tells you all you need to know about our season. Not a single player scored over ten goals or got over ten assists.

Perez has probably got one last season in him, a new goalkeeper will have to be brought in again and my eyes are well and truly cast on some American talent for this position.

Steve Jones has established himself as our starting left-back this season, whilst the addition of Monjac gives me three competent central options alongside either Luciano or Herrin. Vitor again was unchallenged at right-back, although the idea of replacing him with native talent and freeing up an International Slot isn't going unnoticed.

The midfield changed so much this year it'd be hard to criticise them. They've played in a 2, a 3 and a 5 now and this does deserve some praise. Rocha has played well as a ball-winner and the addition of Camara has added the much needed quality and presence to the middle of the park. Rookie Velazquez played well when called upon and showed some good passing range despite limited minutes.

Beugre had a good first season and I'll look to him to build upon it. Reyes was our best player and at one point looked set to leave for Reading, before rejecting their offer and I'm very glad he did that now. Adams and Ramirez both missed a sizeable chunk of the season via international commitments.

Upfront and the picture has already been painted. Sargent has fallen off a cliff and to be honest what was I thinking keeping him as the starting striker this year. Collins was ok, but not great during his loan, definitely better than Clayden/Muller (yes this is the new bar for awful strikers now), whilst Maldonado's loan was cut short early. Cisse is a player to really be excited about and once he's settled fully and knows the language I expect better from him. 5 in his first 7 was followed by a 10 hour dry-spell before netting 3 on the final day of the season.

We'll see what the summer has in store for this side.

Tactics


https://i.imgur.com/TPYAfSB.png?1


Lastly, I've alluded to a number of tactical tweaks and changes this year, which may have been a hinderance and not helpful.

We started the year with a possession dominant 4-1-2-1-2 but failed to create and score during this time.

We moved to a counter-attacking 4-3-3 in the hopes that three strikers would mean more goals, it didn't.

Funnily enough it was the formation that would see us play our best players all at once that would work, who'd have thought? Moving to a 4-5-1 allows me to set a solid defence up with a midfield three that all compliment each other. Rocha wins the ball and plays it to either Camara, who will sit back and playmake, or to Velazquez/Mondragon who are tasked with linking the midfield and attack. Beugre and Reyes operate as inside forwards to support Cisse, and between the three of them there is certainly enough ability and pace to cause opposition defenders trouble.

Next Update


MLS Playoffs 2036!
Well done on grabbing the US Cup! good work, now to see if all this seasons hard work can be made worth it in the playoffs!
Thanks @Dan, it was good to finally get some silverware in the States after a rough few years!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MLS Playoffs


We managed to put together perhaps our best season in Chicago over the last season. Whilst result weren't always as I'd hoped they'd be, we managed to scrape through. All of this on the back of a mid-season trigger pull that saw us reshape key areas of the squad. Let's see if this risk would turn out to be worth taking.

https://i.imgur.com/q65x3iE.png?1


Our first Playoff game saw us face off against Orlando City in a one-legged 'Wild Card' to see which of the two sides would make it into the Playoffs-proper. Within the opening minutes of the game Jose Reyes managed to find himself free at the back stick to hammer an early volley home. Orlando equalised not long after through a long-range effort which clattered the post on its way in, I'd like to have seen Perez do better to be honest. Down to the luck of penalties we would go. Jose Reyes stepped up first and hit is tame effort straight at the Orlando 'keeper, but over the course of sixteen penalties we edged our opponents. Into the next round we go!

MLS Eastern Conference Semi Final Leg 1


https://i.imgur.com/IIzxauc.png?1


Montreal would be our opponents at home in the next round, and going into the half we had a lead over the Canadians. Herrin opened the scoring after a fine Mondragon set-piece found the Welshman at the back post. Mercurial striker Apajee picked up where he left off in the Regular Season and punished a missed header from Monjac, but Cisse restored our lead moments later. Apajee had is second of the game through a header of his own not long into the second half, and Cisse had a golden chance to seal a win late on but fluffed his lines.

MLS Eastern Conference Semi Final Leg 2

https://i.imgur.com/XeBx1YL.png?1


We travelled north of the border days later, well aware that the Impact's away goals would be enough to see them through at present. And yet again it was a game of headed goals, this time Rafael Augusto and Cisse the scorers. A game which we struggled to open up the Montreal back-line, we crash out of the Playoffs on away goals.

Thoughts


Given the way the season played out, the squad turmoil and turnover, the numerous encounters with the board and my head being turned elsewhere throughout the season, I'm actually very happy with how the season turned out. I've seen a lot from the squad since we made our big changes mid-season. I'd told myself during the season that I'd be open to moving to another NA team at the end of the year, but there's been enough promise to make me stick it out for at least another season to see what a whole year of this side can do. I've got my eyes set on a few players to take us from strength-to-strength, so let's see what the Offseason has in store for us!

Next Update


Offseason and Start of the 2037 Season!
Unlucky against Montreal Impact there, but good to see you're still confident in taking Chicago Fire forward.
My Careers:
FM15 | FM16 | FM17a | FM17b | FM19a | FM19b | FM19c
FM20Beta: Trip to: United States (w/ Cincinnati) / Full Release: Earth Trip https://i.imgur.com/WvSK16U.png (journeyman)
Away goals and missed chances really killed us @r96Skinner but I suppose that's the way it has to be sometimes!

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Offseason 2036/37


This winter I engaged in what might just be our most significant window with Chicago so far, even more so than the mid-season window that has recently seen the squad shaken up. A number of trades and transfers took place, so without further ado lets take a look at the business!

https://i.imgur.com/dOn8C3V.png?1


Starting with the trades that we sanctioned in this window, we made four in total.

Peripheral centre-back Joshua White was moved to D.C. United for two 3rd Round picks in the 2039 Draft, but more importantly we picked up an International Slot for the coming year - the standout asset in this deal.

The next trade was one that we proposed. We offered our Pick (17) in the forthcoming Draft for both the 1st and 2nd Rounds, £250K worth of General Allocation Money and a further £500K worth of Target Allocated Money in exchange for Minnesota's 1st Pick in the Waiver Draft. Admittedly an overpayment, but I find it hard to judge how much is too much when it comes to GAM and TAM. As you can imagine, if I'm offering that much for an asset it must be worth it. We'll look at that later.

Trades three and four both took place between ourselves and NYCFC as academy graduate Chris Adams left the club after being displaced by Beugre, in return the City-group side sent us LAFC's 6th Pick in the 1st Round of the coming SuperDraft. I think that's exceptional value for a squad player and hopefully can see us draft a top prospect.

Lastly, Jack Farnsworth would leave for NYCFC's future 1st Round Pick in 2039 as well as an additional International Slot. This looks on paper to be a great deal. Farnsworth wasn't going to be pushing Vitor out of the side any time soon. If NYCFC are bad for the foreseeable future the Pick could have great value, and getting an International Slot is always beneficial.

https://i.imgur.com/kGyebvV.png?1


On to the Ins and Outs then. Bagus and Johnson both departed the club, I'd tried to arrange trades for them to see us get something in return but nobody would bite. Academy graduate Aiklounon was signed from the academy and loaned straight back.

Free Transfers


https://i.imgur.com/NCfdFxO.png?1


Greg White - 36, DC I'd mentioned during last season after the signings of Camara and Monjac that I'm in a position now where I've seen a lot and done a lot with this career, and that there are a lot of former players either winding down their careers or looking to kick start them. Greg is definitely winding down and is set to hang his boots up by the end of the season, but for now he comes in to add a level of experience and back up that we'd lacked. Physically shot, his ability to defend and pass still remain exceptional for this level. With two centre-backs leaving, we needed one to fill the void and the fifty-capped international with nearly two-hundred Juventus appearances fits the bill.

https://i.imgur.com/DqVsqZr.png?1


Tomas Hilska - 20, GK - with Perez needing a replacement for the last two years now, Tomas is the ideal replacement in my eyes. Gray before him wasn't going to get any better and was as good as, if not worse than Perez. Hilska is as good as Perez, maybe even better, and still has room to grow. Released after playing a number of years in his native Finland, he looks set to be a starter in Chicago.

https://i.imgur.com/45ZUzYL.png?1


Josh Sargent - 37, ST - Josh started the Winter without a club. I'd decided against renewing his DP deal as he wanted to remain a Designated Player and wanted wages in excessive £100k per week. What a difference a few weeks does, eh? One of two American strikers signed in the window, Josh is actually set to retire mid-season but until then he's happy to be a reserve player earning around ten percent of what he wanted a few months ago.

2036 Waiver Draft


As our trades indicated, there was one player in particular that I had my eye on, and judging by the deal, I did everything I could to secure the 1st Pick in the Draft.

https://i.imgur.com/G0eu4SA.png?1


Mauricio Olvera - 23, DC - And here he is! Mauricio was due to be in last year's Waiver Draft, but Sporting Kansas City offered him a year extension. This year though, he declined any extensions and so was selected for the Waiver Draft. You can see from his ability and reports that he's the kind of player that can make an instant impact on the team. I've essentially paid £750K for an American player who can fit into the first-team and stopped my rivals from getting hold of him in the process - what a deal! Olvera isn't a flashy defender, he'll be there to win the ball and that's that. He's still got room to grow and we've got him tied down for at least three years!

Its worth noting in the Waiver Draft that we signed Thomas Fitzpatrick from LA Galaxy, but he's since been waived by us!

2037 MLS SuperDraft


Call me naïve, call me stupid, but for some reason I love the SuperDraft. I love trying to get as high a pick as possible and this could perhaps see me conduct poor business, but in the last two seasons we've gone on to get two first-team players in Ramirez and Velazquez, so if its not broke I won't fix it. This year's draft class was ok, no real stand out players and a lot of the talent happened to be strikers.

https://i.imgur.com/HgjK95d.png?1


Marcelo Cisterna - 20, AMR - With the 6th Pick in the 2037 MLS SuperDraft, the Chicago Fire select Chilean winger Marcelo Cisterna from Reading United! As I'd said, a lot of the top players in the draft were strikers, an area we didn't need to reinforce. Of the players available, Cisterna stood out to me. 6'4'', pacey and good in the air, Marcelo will add a different dimension to our wide-play. He won't be displacing Reyes or Beugre any time soon, but he will be able to add a spark off of the bench. Since signing he's become a personal favourite, he's just a likeable player. (He's also recently been registered).

March Re-Entry Draft


The March Re-Entry Draft allows teams to assess their squads in the opening days of the season before making any additions they see fit during the Draft. We took this opportunity to sign two players who add first-team quality to the squad right away.

https://i.imgur.com/2V5gDGG.png?1


Tobias Anton - 20, DR - Deemed surplus to requirements in Colorado, Tobias joins the Fire for the next few years. At current, he's as good as Vitor, although will have to work and perform hard to displace the ever-present Brazilian in the backline. His future could see him far surpass his team-mate, and ultimately his future lies outside of MLS. Over the next few years he'll phase out Vitor. Quick, composed and possessing ability where it counts for a fullback, I'm delighted to have signed a player of Anton's quality.

https://i.imgur.com/5YXaHN7.png?1


Cody Torres - 32, ST - The final player to join us this year is experienced striker Cody Torres. Another player deemed not good enough by the Rapids, Cody comes here to play second-fiddle to Cisse. On paper, he's better than Sargent, and I'd rather have an experienced striker such as Cody on the bench over an academy graduate. Good depth signed for free.

Pre-Season


https://i.imgur.com/nNQKjBr.png?2


This is just half of the pre-season fixtures we played this offseason. Preceding this was a host of games against top Argentinian sides as I looked to gauge a new look Fire side against the quality of my previous competition. This was followed up with a slew of games against domestic sides who we should be competing with, ones we should be beating and then Rapid Vienna to boot. A mixed bag of results, but a lot of positives to be taken.

North American Champions League


Yep, that's right. Somehow, we've qualified for the NACL. I assume its for reaching the Semi Final of the Eastern Conference last season, but that seems unlikely seeing as we qualified straight for the First Knockout Round. No qualifiers, no group games, straight into the knockouts. I don't get it, there must've been an admin error somewhere!

https://i.imgur.com/lUfKaRL.png?1


Either way, we'd be playing Defence Force, a side from Belize who you'd imagine we should be beating comfortably. And beat them we did. A whole host of back up players got a run out in both of the games. Greg White anchored a defence that saw the likes of Begay play, whilst Cisterna and academy products McBride and Martinez found minutes.

This set us up to play fellow MLS side New England in the Quarter Finals (?!). By halftime in the First Leg, our opponents had stormed to a two goal lead, but an inspired side would fight back to draw the tie. A narrow win the week after sent us into the Semi Finals, where we'll play Chivas.

As you can see, I'm not pouring over the details for this one. I'm not really sure how we qualified, missed the Group Stage and have ended up in the Semi Final. It feels a bit cheap if you're asking me. I'd much prefer to play a whole tournaments worth of games, especially when you consider we're two ties away from potentially completing this leg of the journey. I'll have mixed feelings should we go on to win.

Major League Soccer


https://i.imgur.com/jTeSYs8.png?1


So after all of this, we're back! Its good to be back too, the squad is looking much better than the one we took over, and a lot better than the one we started the last campaign with! Having played six games so far, let's see how we've fared!

Our sole game in February saw us host FC Dallas in our season opener. Dallas are a side capable of being good for half a season and then being poor in the second half, much like ourselves. A win for either team would perhaps see a change in fortune for the two sides then. One goal settled the game, and thankfully for us it was a composed finish from Cisse into the bottom corner.

Five games followed in the month of March. Olvera returned to former side Sporting Kansas City, who were fresh off of a 5-1 thrashing of NYCFC. The SKC fans are certainly blessed with goals at the start of the season, seeing a further five in a game which we ran out 4-1 winners. Back-to-back road games saw us travel to Philadelphia, and we returned with another three points. We hit the road for the third time in as many games for a game against Montreal Impact, looking for revenge after the Canadian's dumped us out of the Playoffs just a few months ago. We didn't perform to a level anywhere near our recent form and the hosts took full advantage, putting two past us. We finally returned to Toyota Park to welcome D.C. United, but neither sides looked at it after a busy run of fixtures. FC Cincinnati were our last opponents of the month, and a narrow one-nil win saw us take all three points in a game that the visitors were unlucky to lose.

https://i.imgur.com/XwpdFlw.png?1


Four wins, one draw and one loss to start our season sees us sitting top of the Eastern Conference, and a Top 3 side across both Conferences! Our only loss comes to Montreal who sit below us in the table, winning that game would have seen us open up a big gap early on, but for now we'll settle for a point.

What's been particularly impressive is the way that we've played in these games, evidenced by our results. Unlike last season, when we weren't playing well it was always a question of "when" would we concede, not "if". So far this season, we're looking a lot tighter at the back, in part due to having four quality players that could start (but favouring a Monjac-Olvera partnership), but even when we don't look at our best, we still look like we'll score in a game. We're looking a much better side overall and its almost as if the players have fully taken to the tactics. Either way, we're in for a good season by the looks of it!

Next Update


Mid-Season Update - because we actually look a decent side for once!
Mid-Season 2036/37


So, last time we touched base I mentioned that we might well be on to a special season this year, and well... let's take a look at how well that prediction may, or may not, have panned out!

Major League Soccer


https://i.imgur.com/jCCXYtY.png?1


Well it would seem that we're looking good for our money so far!

April saw us go unbeaten, scoring in each of our five league games in the month. A three-nil drubbing of D.C. United started the month, before travelling North of the border to play a good Toronto side, who matched us goal-for-goal, although we managed to battle back from a two-goal deficit to claim a point. A late equaliser would see us drop points as we stayed in Canada, before going back to winning ways with an impressive 2-1 win over Orlando, which could've been 3, maybe 4, before dismantling NYCFC over seventy minutes and seemingly forgetting that a game of football does in fact last ninety minutes, conceding twice more late on.

Our form looked good, but started to get shaky in May. A score-draw with a tough New England side was followed by a poor, poor draw against Cincinnati, who at the time were among the worst sides in the league. A loss to mid-table New York Red Bulls saw us take our first L of the season, but back to back wins over Columbus and Houston allowed us to re-establish our credentials. A so-so draw with RSL rounded out the month.

Going into the Summer, we picked up two wins and a draw in June. Comfortably seeing both LA sides before a poor performance against Minnesota saw us chasing the game for a majority of the ninety before a late equaliser picked up a point for our efforts.

https://i.imgur.com/5Nt1lnt.png?1


And with all that said and done, not only do we sit top of our Conference, but we also sit at the summit of the League! After years of looking decent, we finally look 'good'. Compare where the club is at this stage last season and the club as a whole is a lot more healthy.

Squad wise, bringing in the likes of Hilska, Olvera, Monjac, Camara and Cisse in the last twelve months has added some real star-quality across the pitch, which is being reflected in our play.

Squad Review


Having mentioned the squad briefly, let's take a look at how the boys have been doing so far this year.

https://i.imgur.com/c4y33cV.png?1


One man sits a top the average rating table this year. Ibrahim Cisse has been absolutely electric for us this year, scoring 20 goals in 26 appearances in all competitions so far. He's exactly the striker we needed and since he came in at this point last season, he's scored goals against everyone.

Our inside forwards Beugre and Reyes have contributed well too, whilst Camara has been dominating the middle of the park.

The backline, despite being praised for the quality of signings, has not looked amazing. It has however looked good. What I'm saying is that there is definitely room for improvement, but the current level is certainly good enough.

US Cup


https://i.imgur.com/9KL1ZId.png?1


Having won the US Cup last season, I'm definitely keen to retain our silverware this year.

June got our defence underway. A heavily rotated, weakened side beat lower-league Dayton Dutch Lions in a game that looked like it could've gone either way at stages. Into the 5th Round to face Minnesota and despite the same scoreline as the last round, the game couldn't have been any different. We looked set to turn our opponents over, but yet we failed to make good of our good play, eventually conceding a second half goal which flattered our opponents.

We now go into the Quarter Final to play LAFC in July, and after comfortably beating them in the league, I'd expect a similar result.

NACL


https://i.imgur.com/CcaCf87.png?1


The North American Champions League. The reason we're here, the next stop on a Worldwide Tour.

I'm still confused as to how we got into the competition at the stage we did, but after making our way to the Semi Final at the first time of asking, we were drawn against Mexican outfit Chivas.

Our opponents would prove to be too hot to handle and an awful first leg in Mexico all-but-confirmed our exit from the competition.

To be fair, I'd have had mixed feelings had we made it to the Final and won the thing given the uncertainty of our entry into the tournament, but at least this way there's a chance to do it all over again off of our own backs.

Thoughts


We're looking like a really promising side this year. If we can keep up our form, I'd back us to lift the Conference title and then after that, who knows what could happen in the Playoffs.

What is particularly encouraging is that we've got a fighting spirit this year, coming back into games that we would have been well out of last season.

The squad is young too, and with plenty of room to grow. Who knows where we could be at the end of the Regular Season!

Next Update


End of Regular Season!
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