|Fire owner Andrew Hauptman -- Getty Images|
That is not to say that the Chicago Fire lost sight of the ultimate goal of attempting to put together a winning club during their sub-par 2010 season. But the Fire's demeanor and the way that they have conducted things in the offseason are noticeably different.
The "attractive" and "possession" lingo of last year from head coach Carlos de los Cobos and their players is less at the forefront, and the "calculated risk" approach of bringing in expensive disappointments such as Nery Castillo and Collins John appears to be gone.
This year, the Fire have centered on words such as "cohesiveness" and "winning," and the idea that everybody has bought into one philosophy.
Now that sounds all hunky-dory, and only the Fire locker room and front office truly know how smoothly everything is functioning behind the scenes. On the surface, the team's demeanor has to be an improvement compared to last year's disjointed team that included personality differences, style differences, injuries and fitness issues, players on the final legs of their playing careers, numerous signings that did not pan out, and a new coach who was brought in so late that he missed the 2010 MLS Combine.
For a second straight offseason, Fire owner Andrew Hauptman and company underwent a major overhaul. Now, the question is whether the Fire feel they are ahead of last year's campaign, and if they have a functioning system in place to rebound from only their second playoff-less season in team history.
Four points and a 1-0-1 start to the 2011 season have brought some early optimism for the Fire.
"I've got my fingers crossed that we've tried to do as much as we could do in a relatively short preseason," Hauptman said last Thursday.
Read more at ESPNChicago.com.