Club record signing Bastian Schweinsteiger was immediately added to the Chicago Fire lineup Saturday. Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic was rewarded for his choice as the German opened the scoring in his debut appearance. The Fire’s newest arrival provided an excitement to Toyota Park which has not been felt for many years. As exciting as the 2-2 match was, the performance proved that the revamped Fire squad is very much a work in progress.
Bastian Schweinsteiger Scores on Debut for Rebuilding Fire
The German world champion arrived to great fanfare last Tuesday and participated in just three training sessions before Saturday’s matchup with the Montreal Impact. Fire fans were buzzing at just seeing the famous midfielder take practice shots in warmups. Moments later, the former Bundesliga champion received a roaring ovation when his name was read during the starting lineup announcements. While Toyota Park was not near capacity on Saturday afternoon, the excitement in the park was palpable.
Schweinsteiger opened his Chicago Fire scoring account after just 17 minutes. The new Fire designated player attacked a David Accam cross and headed the ball past the Montreal goalkeeper with great power. The goal received a thunderous roar from the Fire faithful and was an excellent way to announce his arrival. With ball in hand the new Fire hero celebrated with great joy, surrounded by his new teammates in front of the sector latino corner of the stands. “A big thank you to the Chicago Fire fan support. It was very special and a very good feeling, not only for me, but also for the team” said the german midfielder after the game. He did however have mixed feelings on the result adding “[scoring] was a great feeling. Perfect cross from David and the header. It was a good feeling at first, but I’m a little bit sad and not so happy that we couldn’t win the game.”
The Fire are a Real Work in Progress
Saturday’s performance overall showed that this revamped Fire squad has a lot work to do to improve. Fire midfielder Dax McCarty, who only joined the Fire in the recent offseason, summed up the match and the new squad best after the draw with Montreal. “Obviously, there’s going to be a couple times where we’re kind of in each other’s way, because we’re still trying to figure out each other’s tendencies, it’s early in the season and we’ve only known each other for a couple days. It’ll be a work in progress, but for the most part, we dominated the game in the midfield and gave up some extremely soft, sloppy goals defensively to make this game a frustrating one.” The MLS season is a long one, so with time in hand the new Fire midfield trio of McCarty, Juninho and Schweinsteiger could be a tremendous force this year.
Lots to See in the Draw With Montreal
In addition to the goalscoring debut of the world famous German, there were a number of notables from Saturdays wild match. Fire rookie Daniel Johnson made his club debut with a second-half substitution for injured Michael de Leeuw in the 79th minute. The Fire’s 2017 draft pick impressed in his limited minutes with a few good touches and passes.
Fire goalkeeper Jorge Bava’s performance was a bit shaky Saturday. The newly added veteran slapped at least two crosses back into very dangerous areas and may have been to blame for Montreal’s second goal. The form of the Uruguayan goalkeeper may be something to keep a skeptical eye on.
The Fire will now try to move on from the disappointing draw with the undermanned Montreal Impact. April’s upcoming schedule is quite kind to Schweinsteiger and the retooled Fire however. The Men in Red remain at home for the next two matches which should give the squad time to settle in and adjust to their new teammates. The Fire will welcome the Columbus Crew to Toyota Park next Saturday afternoon.