Over the next three weeks, MLSsoccer.com will take a look back at the 2012 season that was for all 19 clubs in Major League Soccer, starting with Toronto FC and ending with the Supporters' Shield-winning San Jose Earthquakes. You can find the schedule and comprehensive reviews for each team here.
2012 record: 17-11-6 (57 points); 46 GF / 41 GA (+5 GD)
Given a few days to reflect after a disappointing Knockout Round loss to Houston, Chicago Fire players and coaches seemed satisfied with what they'd accomplished in 2012.
While negative comments pervaded the locker room after the playoff loss to Houston capped off a 1-4-1 finish, the Fire realized that they faired pretty well in a season wrought with turnover. The team made five changes to the starting lineup throughout the season and transferred key midfielders Sebastián Grazzini and Marco Pappa elsewhere. Chicago had one of their best stretches in club history when they won seven of eight games with the new guard in town late in the season.
With every starter set to return for a full preseason, the Fire are optimistic that this group can make a strong run in 2013 after they snagged their first playoff berth in three seasons.
On the Fire's 1-3-1 finish...
“I think the mentality of what we're about dropped a little bit. We got away from our fundamentals. We stopped playing soccer, we made a lot of mistakes that really cost us.”
– Patrick Nyarko after the team's Knockout Round loss
On the team's resolve after the Knockout Round loss to Houston...
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"It hurts. It's not a good feeling, but we have to move on. I have a lot of passion for the club, for the city, for all our fans, and it's definitely not a good moment right now, but I can tell you one thing, with every setback, I think there's opportunities, and I think we're going to come back even stronger and work even harder to make sure we can take the next step next year."
– Head coach Frank Klopas
On looking back at the success this team had this year during Chris Rolfe's five months in the lineup...
“I think the time that I spent with the team this year, I think that's the most successful team I've been a part of as a pro. It's funny, because I feel like we all kind of kept our heads down and we kept plugging away, and we didn't really realize how good we were doing. Now we have a little bit of time to reflect on that, and we get to realize that we did accomplish some really impressive things this year. … I think we've had teams that were better suited to maybe win the MLS Cup, but like I said this team did a great job in the regular season.”
– Chris Rolfe
On Sherjill MacDonald...
“His goal production, obviously, should increase. It's difficult when you come in without a preseason, it's difficult late in the season. I thought the guy had an impact. He has the ability now to develop understanding with his teammates. There were good moments, and there were moments that obviously weren't good, and that's going to happen when you bring guys in late. There was a good understanding with Rolfe, with [Álvaro Fernández], with Patrick, but I think there were moments that things didn't go as well because you didn't have the opportunity to work. But that continuity, now that they spend time together, there's an understanding what the strengths of each player.”
– Frank Klopas
On what changes next year with the entire starting lineup expected back...
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“I think the big change will be the expectation. Going into last year, we knew there were a bunch of changes the prior year and, yeah, we were keeping a similar core together from 2011 to 2012, but I think now that this group has been together for over a season, with adding a couple of additions, I think the expectations of our team and winning will be higher, so definitely going into next year, those will be things worth thinking about. We've now had the taste of making the playoffs, but the team is not satisfied with just that.”
– Logan Pause
On what the Fire need to add in the offseason...
“To be honest, in terms of adding something, hopefully we added it from making the playoffs and losing in the playoffs. We gained experience that our young guys continue to grow and our old guys lead well. I think we need to learn from this past year, I think we need to learn what we're capable of, but also the fine line between winning and advancing and losing and our season being over. In terms of personnel, this team is more than capable of winning a championship, and I still believe that going into next year. I just think that our experience from last year hopefully will make us wiser, hopefully will make us more mature as a team.”
– Logan Pause
On how continuity will help this team...
“We did have a few really crucial players that came in mid-season, and to be able to have those six or seven weeks in preseason now, to really have the time and energy to focus on Frank's goals and his vision, I think that'll really help us a lot.”
– Logan Pause