if the deal does go down as expected -- has to happen. You're always sad to see guys who have contributed to your team playing for the enemy, particularly if that enemy is Dallas or Columbus.
What's new in Baltimore?
Meanwhile, the SuperDraft yielded a pretty promising crop of young talent for the less-than-immediate future. Connolly liked what he saw, and I'll defer to him on the grounds that he probably pays closer attention to college soccer than I do. And by "closer," I mean "any." I tend to judge these things by whether or not we got anybody with a cool name, so welcome, 'Boyzzz' Khumalo. I have high hopes for you.
Both Connolly and coach Sarachan seem to think that one or more of these seven draft picks -- particularly Notre Dame defender Jack Stewart -- could win a starting spot this year, but I'm reserving judgment. There are still a number of deals to be made with regard to player movement, and from what I've heard, those deals should make the starting 11 largely impenetrable to this year's crop of collegians.
While my skepticism as to whether or not any of the new kids see the opening whistle from the field may be somewhat frustrating for them, it should be good for Fire fans. With only one of four heavily-rumored acquisitions nailed down, it's a little bit tough to speculate.
At the very least, the addition of former Manchester United reserve -- even if you hate Man U, that's fun to say -- John Thorrington gives the team a natural right-sided midfielder. Last season, it was a revolving door of Justin Mapp playing opposite his natural side, Nate Jaqua out of his normal forward position, and occasionally Andy Williams and the vague notion of Alex Boucicaut, so this should be an improvement.
The rest of the projected lineup should include two Hondurans and a well-traveled U.S. international, and my back-of-the-envelope calculations have the starting lineup looking an awful lot like the one that started doing some major damage last season before Mapp got hurt, with significant upgrades at as many as five positions.
Of course, during the winter, this is all pure speculation. It's still going to be months before we see if any of this pans out, but there's certainly enough happening to start to show some optimism for next season instead of continuing to dwell on last season's disappointment. Having lived in Chicago for some time now, I know that you have to take those rays of sunshine in January when you can.
Chris Costello is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.