Preseason preparations are in full swing across Major League Soccer, with just over two weeks remaining until the five Concacaf Champions League participants get things started.
All 26 clubs have plenty of storylines worth watching, of course, and questions to answer in the weeks ahead. But these five stand out for me, whether it be for the promise they’ve shown entering 2020, the scale of the challenges in front of them or the personalities onboard.
Chicago Fire FC
Where to begin? The Fire have a new coaching staff, new brand, new NFL-sized stadium and, to a large extent, a new team this year. With just 21 players under contract in early February – including three teenage Homegrowns – the roster still has holes. While they’ll undoubtedly add to it this month, as they did with the arrival of striker Robert Beric on a Designated Player deal, the status quo underlines the workload, and time crunch, facing the all-new technical staff.
Beyond that, Raphael Wicky will be a fascinating figure to follow. The Fire’s head coach was convinced to leave US Soccer and move across town less than a year into his tenure as the US under-17 national team boss. And though that team’s disappointing performance at the 2019 U-17 World Cup dinged his reputation, he largely earned positive reviews for his proactive work with that squad. Wicky's previous stop at FC Basel in his native Switzerland earned high marks, too.