Fire Confidential 2011

Now that 2010 is nearly behind us and the New Year will signify opportunities via the opening of the international transfer window it's time to start thinking about Fire Confidential in 2011.  My initial goal in writing this blog was to provide a platform for the type of Fire/soccer discussion and coverage that was largely absent in Chicago's local media landscape.  The Fire are still virtually ignored in print and radio although the team's less than mediocre 2010 hardly merited any increased attention but the fact remains that there is a fairly substantial local fan base that is just as passionate about the Fire as any other team in the city.  Comcast's broadcasts during the past season were an improvement over the my50 broadcasts of the previous season but the promoted "half hour" post game shows quickly deteriorated into 10-15 minute recaps while trying to rustle up an on-field interview in between commercials.  It was an improvement but hardly the in depth look that Bulls and Blackhawks telecasts are afforded. 

One of the things I'd like to accomplish in 2011 is expanding the podcasts beyond the coach's post game press conference and locker room sound bites.  The absence of any media coverage of the post game press conference has always been puzzling to me since it doesn't take much more than a microphone or a camera during the "post game show" to provide the audience with some insight into the coach's thoughts on a particular match.  It's easy programming and Comcast seems to have no problem airing Lovie Smith, Joel Quenville, Tom Thibodeaux, Ozzie Guillen, or Mike Quade in the midst of addressing media queries.  Anyway, the post game coverage for homegames will continue in 2011 but I'd like to expand the podcast idea into a live internet radio call in program but I need some feedback from you.

 

Of course the podcast would include more than just my rambling.  I'll try to feature Fire related guests, media members, and listener phone ins.  If this is something Fire Confidential readers are interested in I'll certainly move forward with it but I'd like to hear what you think.  What are the best days and times for the program?  On game day? The day after? During the week? 

If there is enough interest and feedback it should provide another avenue for the voice of the Fire/soccer fan to be heard.  Initially it would probably be a monthly or bi weekly half hour webcast/podcast until the season gets rolling. 

Other features I'd like to implement in addition to continuing the post game recaps and daily discussion of 2010 include:

  • "Have Your Say" posts from Fire Confidential readers.  If you've got a burning desire to sound off on a Fire/soccer related topic let me know and I'll post it here.  I know there are some interesting opinions out there based on the comments section of each post.
  • Yes, I will update the Fire Confidential banner at some point this off season.  My biggest challenge with the banner update is that ChicagoNow requires an odd size (980x200).  If anyone out there can help with this I'd greatly appreciate it. 
  • Sam will chip in occasionally with an upcoming series on "attractive, attacking" soccer. 
  • I did a few soccer book reviews last season and I've got a few more coming up.
  • If time permits (this blog does take up a considerable amount of time if you can believe it) I'd like to expand into more MLS general discussion-particularly focusing on upcoming Fire opponents.

The transfer window opens in January, the MLS combine takes place from January 8-11, the SuperDraft is on January 13, the US takes on Chile in a friendly on January 22 with Sean Johnson possibly on the final roster, and the Fire need to fill 13 of a possible 30 roster spots. 

January should be a very interesting month and I didn't even mention a new shirt sponsor, assistant coaching vacancies, and how the team's marketing perspective has changed under a new team president. 

Feel free to post your thoughts here, email me fireconfidential@aol.com, or find me on twitter @fireconf.

 

Comments

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  • the half hour show would be good for the day after or during the week. have you heard anything out of the front office about a sponsor, cj possibly as an assistant, any signings, or anything to make 2011 seem more positive than 2010 was? and if the fire pass on the chance to keep cj part of the team in some way it would be a very big mistake.

  • In reply to firefan1998:

    The day after would usually mean Sundays but a regular time during a week night may work better....I'm not sure. The front office has been pretty silent on all three of your questions. I've been trying to get some comments on all of those issues from Frank Klopas but haven't been to get him due to his travel schedule.

    I agree with you on Brown. Not making him a part of the organization in some capacity would be a mistake.

  • I like the idea of the podcasts and reader submitted content. I think a midweek podcast in the evening would be the best - I'm sure most are busy on match day or the day after. It would also give you a chance to get some information from midweek practices.

    One of the things that Luis did with his blog was have guest bloggers, mostly when he was out on holiday. It would be great if you could get a player to guest blog maybe once a month to give us his opinion of the team.

  • In reply to dustbin:

    I liked Luis' guest blogger segments too but I've tried to keep things different from what Luis and Sam did. That being said....it's not a bad idea.

  • In reply to dustbin:

    I'm not even sure how to comment on this one........

    http://ht.ly/3vPnt

  • In reply to cesba:

    Some lucky 35+ fan will get a shot at making the team, fits the current profile perfectly! Sheer marketing brilliance. What is next? Maybe a golden ticket to be placed in a churro wrapper aa Toyota Park which will grant a fan the chance to play in a US Open Cup match with the Fire.

    All kidding aside, keep up the good work Guillermo. Chicago has not had decent soccer friendly sports caster since Tim Weigel so you work is cut out for you. Fight the good fight!

  • In reply to DerSting:

    Tim Wiegel did give the Sting legitimate coverage during their heyday, unfortunately there is no 2010 version of Weigel.

    The tryout promo comes off as ridiculous to me. If they want to promote sales why not offer a fantasy camp or some sort of 1 day chance to kick the ball around on the pitch at TP under the direction of some Fire personnel?

  • In reply to cesba:

    Remember, Channel 7 had Jim Rose doing a postgame show interviewing Willie Roy in the mid-80's.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    I've actually seen Jim Rose at Fire games as a spectator and he has covered the team from time to time during his broadcasts...but he's no Tim Weigel.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Julian Posada must find different solutions on expanding the Chicago Fire. One of them is finding an English speaking outlet to carry the games and also advertising the Fire properly.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    We need english radio. Maybe Guillermo could get his show he's talking about on the radio.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    If he can't play in America how could he play in Scotland?

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    He was playing every game for us. We needed him more than he needed us. Who would you rather play for? Celtic or the Fire.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    My point being that he wasn't very good, even by MLS standards. I'll give it to you that Scotland isn't the best league in the world, but if you can't get it done in America you can't get it done there.

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    I thought he was pretty good here but not great...although there were some flashes.

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    I like the podcasts idea and think that anytime during the week would be a good time to do it. On Ljungberg, I'm disappointed he left but it's not too bad of a loss. Also, I was wondering if anyone knew where to find the figures on MLS revenue, profits, expnditures econimic figures like that. I've been able to find bits and pieces, but mostly just estimations.
    Also we will now get to see the team in the full image of DLC (I know, scary thougt), but I'm glad to be able to see it all right here. Thanks GR.

  • In reply to fire1020:

    Finding actual figures on that isn't likely since MLS keeps that information very tight to the vest. There are two books that I can recommend that have covered that topic in some detail Beau Dure's Long Range Goals:The Success Story of Major League Soccer and Gary Hopkin's Star Spangled Soccer. The latter covers the financial aspect in some detail and is an excellent read.

    Kind of ironic that the one player that was squarely on DLC's side is gone now so it'll be interesting to see what he does now that he has an opportunity to look at players coming in. The Salvadoran national team is thankfully not an option for more talent at this point.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Just got Star Spangled Soccer for Xmas and I'm loving it. Beau Dure's book is next on my list.

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    I liked Ljunberg as a person, and as a player I thought he was good, but not worth it as a DP for us because I felt, he, pappa, Castillo and Nyarko didn't click at all.. and all of them seem to like to posses the ball and carry it... which made all of them less effective.

  • In reply to lijien:

    That's a good point Tone, all four of those players are better with the ball at their feet. A playmaker was still sorely needed even if Ljungberg stayed on.

  • In reply to cesba:

    what they need in my opinion is a deep lying playmaker more like a Modric or Pirlo type rather then an in the hole hole guy

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    When was he not very good? He had 4 goals and 20 assists in 2 years. That's better than we have had in terms of distribution than any player on our team. He is going to be a big loss for us because we don't have anyone to fill into his role on our current squad.

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    After Celtic and Rangers, I think there's a pretty precipitous drop in quality in the SPL.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Very true.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    I would like the podcast on iTunes. I would download it.

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    It should be on iTunes if I can get everything together.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Another suggestion: please don't ONLY have it available via iTunes! I've run into a number of podcasts that only use iTunes for distribution and it is a pain to download if you don't use the software.

    The ideal way--in my opinion--to download pods is through a normal RSS feed. Whatever setup the Guardian has works well--you visit their site and you can stream it in the browser, but if you subscribe to the RSS feed you can also download directly from your feed reader to your device.

    The Bundesliga podcast, for instance, has an RSS feed, but you actually have to open a web browser to download the mp3. This can be kind of a pain on non-Apple smartphones.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    +1

  • In reply to cesba:

    Happy New Year all!

  • In reply to cesba:

    Happy New Year everybody! 2011 should be fun. Transfer window is open.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Zoltan Gera is a player who I would love to see in a Fire jersey. His club Fulham are not peticulary in need of him (and his contract is up in the summer) and he is an extremely good player who can play any position in attack. He was Fulham's player of the year last season, only 31, and a hard worker. Plus he wouldn't cost as much as a Seedorf or a Van NIstelrooy, but would be just as affective on the field. I think he would be an ideal signing for the Fire.

  • In reply to cesba:

    JANJO reporting for duty!!
    If your lucky enough you could acquire me during the open transfer window. :)

  • In reply to cesba:

    Wishing Everyone On Here A Happy New Year.
    For 2011 to be a Happy Year For Us Fire Fans "We Need And Deserve A Winning Team". Guillermo I appreciate all your hard work in keeping us fans informed and entertained. I would to see an English Speaking
    Radio Station cover the Fire Games in an Addition to Television this Year. I live near Rockford Illinois were Soccer is very popular. Can't get My50 out here. Hopefully Comcast Sports Net will cover at least the away games for the Fire this year.
    All of us should join forces and see if we can't Promote Guillermo Rivera to give Fire related commentaries on English Speaking Television and Radio this year."I can see it already "Fans here is Guillermo Rivera's report on your Chicago - Fire."

  • In reply to TigerJMS:

    English radio is something Posada said was a priority. I'll hopefully have some posts regarding Posada and his responsibilities in 2011 coming up soon.

    Thanks for the support Tiger, I got a chuckle out of that last comment.

  • In reply to cesba:

    That is out right crazy talk! Stop it GR!

  • In reply to cesba:

    my god, i saw that on Facebook and I couldn't believe it. They must be looking for those few kids out there who are actually really amazing soccer players considering a career, AND also happen to be in the market for some season tickets. Why not?! Kill two birds with one stone. Brilliant.

    About FC2011... Live podcasts sound like it would be very difficult to work successfully at this point (although I don't know your exact readership), but I do listen to a lot of casts and it would be great to hear some more with interviews and guests, etc. You seem to ask really good questions in your interviews, so I have no doubt the podcasts would be good listening.

    Some podcasts play listener/callers questions pre-recorded and then you can answer them. That would be interesting.

    I like your "have your say" idea, as well. Keep up the good work!

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    The live podcast technology is out there and it does work. If the demand is there for it I'll try it out with some test runs before going live. I have an idea what the readership of the blog is on a daily basis since ChicagoNow does provide bloggers with a daily automated report detailing the amount of views each day. I can tell you I was pleasantly surprised at the traffic here last season.

    I agree with you that a live podcast would be a challenge since the FC readership is spread throughout the day and a program like that would be concentrated into a set time slot which might limit listeners. Pre-recorded listener questions might work also. That's the kind of input I'm looking for.

    Thanks Redline.

  • In reply to cesba:

    We're screwed. If we're trying out STH and one actually makes the club . . . I'll demand a refund.

  • In reply to fireman451:

    That's a funny concept.....what if one of the STH's actually makes the club. It would be even better if it was a Fire Confidential commentor.

  • In reply to cesba:

    If a STH made the 1st team, would they still need season tickets? Would they get that lovely poncho as a gift, or would that be their salary?

    :D

  • In reply to giaco:

    I hope you win Giaco. ;)

  • In reply to giaco:

    Ljungberg closer to deal with Celtic......

    http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/858927/celtic-hoping-to-finalise-deal-for-freddie-ljungberg?cc=5901

  • In reply to giaco:

    GR,

    What format this banner needs to be saved as? What players would you want to be shown? Anything else that needs to be on the banner?

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Adam,
    I've gotten some responses on the banner. Jpg or pdf should be fine I would imagine. As far as players....Johnson, Pappa, Nyarko would be my pick for a top three.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Can any pictures be copied from fire website?

  • In reply to cesba:

    I'd love to see you do a Fire podcast, Guillermo.

    I'm not sure about doing it live--my sense is that you wouldn't have many callers. I would for sure download it.

    There are tons of great models for good football podcasts.

    My favorites: Guardian's Football Weekly
    Beyond the Pitch
    The Bundesliga Podcast

    I don't have experience with any that focus on a particular team (if there are any Arsenal ones, please post!); but give it a go!

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    Thanks for the input Roti.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I'm w/Roti on this...Live might be hard, I have a hard enough time catching the Fire games live b/c of schedule conflicts. But I would certainly download it and listen to it.

    I think occasional Q&A's from readers would be a good addition to the blog. It might not be necessary because you have a great ongoing dialogue with your readers, but I always enjoy reading Q&A's.

    I can't say it enough though, you are doing a tremendous job and I can imagine it's very time consuming...so thanks for all your work!

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    Freddie Ljungberg has signed with Celtic......

    http://www.fifa.com/worldfootball/clubfootball/news/newsid=1357550.html?cid=twitter_voiceofthesite

    The Fire can keep the #9 pick in the draft but give up #27 to Seattle.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Seattle were desperate to unload Llungberg so I cannot see why they paid a second round pick. What did we get in return for Mapp?

  • In reply to Celt:

    Allocation money.

  • In reply to cesba:

    They have 17 players on the roster and a lot of cap space to fill some holes.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Here is Ives 2011 Superdraft preview

    http://www.soccerbyives.net/soccer_by_ives/2010/12/sbi-mls-mock-draft-version-10.html

  • In reply to cesba:

    Can you give us an idea of how important allocation money is to a team? I still don't have a solid grasp of it after all these years.

    There are so many variables in MLS that ca n be traded, I sometimes am unclear on how good (or bad) of a deal these teams are getting. Do we know how much allocation money the Fire got? Allocation money, international player slots, reentry rights, blah blah blah. They sure have made it complicated. And parenthetically, not very transparent, which I think is poor form from a PR standpoint. It'd be a lot more interesting and fun to talk about if we knew how much a player was signed for, for example. Their secrecy sucks! :)

  • In reply to Drew:

    They don't release allocation figures, which is incredibly annoying and hints of shadiness. That is supposed to change in 2011 but I'm not holding my breath for it.

    Transparency=good

    Allocation money is important. LA traded Bowen away for allocation money presumably to sign Angel so that gives you an example of what can be done with the cash. The league also distributes some unknown amount of allocation cash to teams that did not make the playoffs the previous season.

  • In reply to cesba:

    With that 9th pick, they need a center back or striker.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Now it would be great to dump Castillo, he may be a fairly decent player, but not worth the money the Fire are paying him. Looking at his career in total his goal per game average is pretty medicore for a striker.
    They probably could do better than Castillo at lesser money.
    Given the money available now that Freddie is gone, the Fire should be in good
    position to find quality players, but the personnel transactions during the past year by Klopas/De Los Cobos poses some questions about their ability to judge talent. I'm not that confident that the Fire are going to improve that much in 2011.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    Lone,
    Castillo will be here in 2011.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Any updates on Nery Castillo and his loan to Mexico on a short term basis? Last year, he was a complete bust and he needs to realize that a loan to a Mexican benefits for him to get into playing shape. This is last stop, 2011 is either all or nothing. Also did the Fire hire a replacement for Mike Matkovich?

  • In reply to longoria3:

    not yet and not yet

  • In reply to cesba:

    Comments from Ljungberg on leaving the Fire.....

    http://ht.ly/3wnlG

    Ljungberg was a good locker room influence although the results weren't there in the second half. He seemed to be one of the few players who grapsed and understood what De Los Cobos was trying to implement. There was a mutual respect between the two that was very evident in training.

    His departure is based on his desire to 1-make more money and 2-get back on the field now rather than later. The Fire would definitely have liked him back but the price may have gotten too steep for a 33 year old with other options available to him.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    DLC/Klopas put in some effort and management was willing to spend some cash, but the retutn on investment was pretty poor. I hope Castillo turns it around this year but without service I am less than optimistic. Carr is not the answer... Way too many needs to turn it around quickly this year. Better lock in those season ticket packages soon or you might not get to see a game at all this year with this lineup!

  • In reply to DerSting:

    Yeah, I really hope he's loaned out...hopefully during the loan he gets in shape and figure out how to remove his head from his...

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    If they could do better for cheaper, they still can. We have as close to an infinite amount of cap space that is possible. McBride 378K, Brown 95k, Conde 180k, Thorrington 177k, John 160k, Krol 100k, Ljungberg 400k, Lowry 40k. That leaves us with 1.5 million in cap space without pay raises and stuff.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    I like all of those ideas!

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    There are definitely team-dedicated pods out there... not only Arsenal ones (http://feeds.arsenal.com/O2arsenal, http://onlinegooner.com/podcast.php), but some MLS ones as well. Try an iTunes podcast search for soccer and even football for more. Of course, sometimes these things come and go.

    I'd love to see a Fire-dedicated podcast, but Guillermo - you need to not overstretch yourself! Podcasts can be tough to produce if you want to weed out the chaff and present something that's listenable! I'd keep it short at first till you're sure you know what it takes to manage it.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Point well taken. They'll be no more than 30 minutes tops if I decide to go forward with them. I want to make sure that there is interest in something like that before continuing onto the next step in production.

    I know they take some work and effort to produce in order to keep them from sounding like crap so I'm lenaing toward a monthly pre-recorded podcast initially. I also do have a few other voices interested in helping, so it won't just be me rambling for 30 minutes.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Whats' up with the "Bridgeview Sports Dome" stuff?

  • In reply to Modibo:

    That's the location of the try-outs.

  • Love the blog and looking forward to your suggested upgrades next year.

    Keep it up G.R.

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