2009 Recap: The Fire continued many traditions in 2009. They continued to stay toward the top of the East (11-7-12; 2nd place). They continued to spread the minutes around to different guys swimming in their deep talent pool. They also continued to play like the “blue collar” bunch that they are, which is fitting because Chicago is one of the most “blue collar” cities. Sure, they haven’t been around as long as the Cubs or Bears, but Chi-Town loves the Fire.
Of course, Chicago fell flat in the Eastern Conference Finals against the upstart side known as RSL. To lose the Eastern Conference Finals again hurts, but to lose it to a team from the West probably hurts even more. Now, Hamlett is gone and Chicago will be looking to add new flavor while saying goodbye to some old stars (including one very pesky overrated one). While the 2009 season was undoubtedly a success, it was not a title. Thus, Chicago is devastated.
Top Players: So many to choose from here. Jon Busch was great in goal, and his stat line is remarkable. He played every minute of every game, ending the season 3rd in saves, 2nd in shutouts, and 3rd in saves percentage. As for the offense, injuries couldn’t keep McBride from having a stellar season. Blanco notched 8 assists in a part time role. Nyarko is one of the league’s rising stars. But the D deserves props too, and Conde was the best man on the back line.
Symbolic Stats: The strangest stat for the Fire indicates that Toyota Park may be as cursed as Wrigley Field. Chicago was the only team in MLS in 2009 to be better on the road (6-3-6) than they were at home (5-3-4). I don’t think it has anything to do with a goat (or the Goats), I just think the Fire play a lot of close games and this year they lost a few too many at home. They also started the season with the longest unbeaten streak of ’09, 11 games. I bet they continue to stay near the top of the table in 2010.
2009 MLS Season Review: