1. One of the things I've noticed in watching long-time Chicago Fire fans is their simmering sense of betrayal and rage. I'm more familiar with the New York Red Bulls version of that, especially this past off-season. Besides hashtags and other online fora, how is this anger manifesting itself physically, if at all?
I wrote a piece a couple of years ago talking about what happens when fans get too frustrated - in short, they find something else to do. Most of the anger towards the organization is manifesting as people finding other things to do with their time, and shows up in the stadium as empty seats. Tonight's sell-out is an outlier; the front office has spent most of its energy trying to sell Chicagoans on the quality of the opposing team's roster.
2. How hopeful are you (and other Fire fans) of seeing Mike Magee return to his imperious 2013 form? Especially since this year's team has had trouble scoring, and it looks like your designated players aren't quite clicking?
It's early days yet on the designated players - at this point, only Kennedy Igboananike looks a bust - but there is no doubt that a healthy Mike Magee improves this team quite a bit. It's hard to imagine that Magee comes back at anything like his MVP form, though; by the time he hits the field, it will have been almost a year since he's played, and he's 30. That said, Magee's primary attributes are not related to athleticism, so it's not unreasonable to expect that he'll be very good - just probably not 'carry the team to the brink of the playoffs by scoring every game' good.
3. Speaking of which: underlying that dissatisfaction is the fact that Fire owner Andrew Hauptmann doesn't seem particularly interested in really investing in the team. Given that, do you think that Frank Yallop can make something out of the pieces he's already got? And if not, then what?
The signs of underinvestment are all around the Fire for those who care to notice, but winning is the best distraction imaginable. I was dubious about the chances for the Men in Red to be dramatically better in 2015, given the amount of roster turnover and the fact that Frank Yallop's one big roster move in '14 (dumping young centerbacks in favor of Bakary Soumare and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado) was an unmitigated failure. But Yallop and Brian Bliss seem to have threaded the needle this offseason, revamping the defense and adding midfielders who can actually keep the ball. It's too early to tell if it'll work, but there's at least reason to believe it might, which is better than I'd've believed four months ago.
If the team doesn't win, they'll keep tinkering at the margins while Chicago focuses on the Cubs, and street fairs, and being the best damned city in the universe. Bridgeview will grow ever lonelier and more remote, coming unmoored from the city, sliding south and west until it bumps up against southern Iowa.