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Chicago Fire 2018 outlook: build on progress

The Chicago Fire staged an impressive 2017 turnaround after finishing dead last the year before. Can the Fire take it one step further in 2018?

Head coach: Veljko Paunovic

2017 regular season: 16-11-7, 55 points; No. 3 East.

Postseason: Lost to New York Red Bulls in first round of playoffs.

Season recap

The club made a statement early in the year, bringing German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger into the midfield. Other heavyweight signings included Nemanja Nikolic, who finished as the league’s Golden Boot winner with 24 goals, and U.S. men’s national team favorite Dax McCarty and three-time MLS Cup winner, Juninho.

Together, they helped the club place third in the Supporters’ Shield standings after finishing last in the league in 2016 and 2015. The Fire racked up 55 points, a 24-point improvement over 2016. But the club’s 20th season, one of the most successful in franchise history, came to an end with a 4-0 to the New York Red Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

Accam’s hernia: Chicago midfielder David Accam underwent bilateral sports hernia surgery in November but is expected to be back for the start of January training camp, according to the club’s website. Accam set career highs in 2017 for goals scores (14) and assists (8).

2018 goals

Be the best.

“My purpose when we came here is to build a team that will be a championship team,” Paunovic said in a club statement right after the 2017 season. “[A team] that will win championships and that will resonate in soccer in the United States with the style, with the mentality, with everything. I focus all my energy and my mind only on that.”

Season opener: March 3 @ Colorado Rapids, 9 p.m.

Offseason moves

Not quite as exciting as last year when the Fire signed Bastian Schweinsteiger, but there’s still plenty of time and a new Schweinsteiger deal is in the works.

Signings – N/A

Trades –Arturo Alvarez traded to Houston Dynamo for natural second round selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft.

Contract option declined – F Joey Calistri; D Matej Dekovic; D Patrick Doody; M Collin Fernandez; M John Goossens; D Michael Harrington; GK Richard Sanchez.

Contract expired –Juninho (loan); M – Bastian Schweinsteiger; D – Joao Meira.

Other –David Arshakyan (mutual termination)

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