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Mar 28, 2008 

Chicago Is Ready To Rise From The Ashes Of '07

Mexican midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco should again entertain Chicago Fire fans this season


2006 Record: 10-10-10, 40 points, (4th place in Eastern Conference).
Head coach: Denis Hamlett.
In: Tomasz Frankowski, Andy Herron, Dominic Cervi.
Out: Chris Armas (ret.), Matt Pickens, Ivan Guerrero (SJ), Jim Curtin (CHV), Tiago.

Starting Lineup: Jon Busch; C.J. Brown, Gonzalo Segares, Dasan Robinson; Diego Gutierrez, Justin Mapp, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Logan Pause, Bakery Soumare; Tomasz Frankowski, Chris Rolfe.

Strengths: Having five solid options at forward counts as a huge strength that could be parlayed into help in the back or midfield. With Blanco, Chicago has something no other team has, including Beckham's Galaxy--a firebrand performer who can truly change games with his tenacity.

Weaknesses: There's a certain X-factor with Chicago and it's upheaval last season that must be crossed before this team can contend for the title. Goaltender Busch is just holding the position for rookie Cervi, but shakiness is goal could also light the match that starts trouble again in Chicagoland.

Outlook: Hamlett is the first African-American head coach in MLS history and he couldn't have inherited a more trying situation. The upside, though, of this side is enormous and should entertain the fans at Toyota Park all summer. Despite second-tier status, the Fire will again be a team that nobody will relish playing in a short playoff series.

Prediction: 3rd in Eastern Conference.

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