Recap: The Fire had an extremely strong season, finishing the race for the Supporters Shield behind only Columbus and Houston. They did not play as consistently down the stretch, and whether the Barrett for McBride trade pays dividends is a question that has no answer. Overall, they get a B+ for 2008.
Offense: The Fire had a very hot start, but cooled off to finish tied for fifth in the league in goals with Colorado. Blanco played very well to open the season, but he seemed disinterested down the stretch. Rolfe emerged late after a poor start, and he remains one of the biggest enigmas in MLS. For the O, the Fire get a B.
Defense: The Fire’s defense, like their offense, had a fantastic year and finished 2nd in the league in goals allowed. It certainly helped that Jon Busch was unbeatable, finishing with a league high 78.2% save percentage. They had a great core and a very dominant season, so they get a A- for their 2008 D.
Needs: In 2009, the Fire will need to play with more motivation. Blanco needs to play like a real leader and give 100% every game like Schelotto did in 2008. McBride and Rolfe need to overcome nagging injuries and the defense needs to remain formidable. It’s early for predictions, but they will likely make the playoffs in 2009.