Armchair Analyst: One big question for the Chicago Fire

A Big Question: How much do Dax and Basti have left in the tank?

Truth be told this is probably the question for Chicago. It almost doesn't matter what other signings they make in the next six weeks: If Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger both fall off a cliff, or even start a downward trend, there's not a lot of reason to think that this can be a successful year in Bridgeview.

In both cases it's the years and the miles, as McCarty turns 32 and will likely crest 30,000 career minutes this year. Schweinsteiger will hit 35 in August and, for club and country, is already over 50,000 career minutes. Guys at this stage of their careers don't improve; they hang on.

And that is part of what made 2018 so frustrating to watch. A good way of extending an important player's career is to circumscribe the amount of physical energy he has to expend, and the best way to do that is by having the ball. Theoretically any midfield that gets 2,300 minutes of McCarty and 2,700 minutes of Schweinsteiger really should have the ball a whole, whole lot.

But they didn't. Chicago, under Veljko Paunovic, have chopped and changed (personnel, formation, tactical approach) by the game, and have moved Schweinsteiger all over the field, and that's made it impossible to build the type of possession-out-of-midfield approach you'd think would be a natural fit given who this team's best players are. Thus Chicago spent almost all of last year playing back-foot, reactive, losing soccer.

Do the same this year and they'll lose more than games: They'll have lost their chance to build something meaningful around two of the smartest, most technical midfielders in the league.

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