Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop entered the 2015 season with 13 new offseason signings filling out his roster, including Designated Players David Accam, Kennedy Igboananike and Shaun Maloney. The revamped lineup was tested early in the campaign, playing in the opening Major League Soccer match of 2015 when they traveled to defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy on March 6, a 2-0 win for the home side.
An ensuing home defeat to Vancouver Whitecaps and a 2-1 loss in the grand opening of San Jose's Avaya Stadium made it three losses in three for the Fire, but the Men In Red Fire found their stride and strung together three consecutive victories, knocking off Philadelphia, Toronto FC and expansion NYCFC in succession.
The month of May opened with narrow cross-conference defeats at the hands of Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake, but Chicago went unbeaten in its next three outings, including a dramatic 2-2 draw at Columbus Crew SC and an impressive 3-0 blanking of Montreal Impact at Toyota Park.
On June 6, a sold-out home crowd witnessed an entertaining back-and-forth affair between the Fire and expansion side Orlando City SC, with the Chicago debut of former FIFA Ballon d’Or winner Kaka adding to the night’s anticipation. Chicago seized a 2-1 lead on a second-half David Accam goal, but the visitors stole three points with two goals in the final 10 minutes.
The Fire won a pair of Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches in the month of June, first outlasting a stout Louisville City FC side, 1-0, when Quincy Amarikwa headed home a winner in the game’s 116th minute. On June 30, the Fire downed Charlotte Independence thanks to a brace by the recently returned Mike Magee and a 30-yard wonderstrike by defender Lovel Palmer.
A draw at Houston and Chicago’s first-ever MLS win over Seattle Sounders FC to open July had the Men In Red in the thick of the playoff race, but there were mixed results the rest of the month. Back in Open Cup play, Chicago again hosted Orlando City SC, this time getting a brace from substitute Kennedy Igboananike to secure a place in the tournament’s semifinals.
After adding Designated Player Gilberto to the club’s attacking fray on July 27, Chicago kept its postseason aspirations alive by knocking off Western Conference front-runners FC Dallas on Aug. 2, snapping the visitors’ five-match winning streak and keeping the Brimstone Cup in Bridgeview.
After falling out of the Open Cup in disappointing fashion -- a 1-0 road defeat to the Philadelphia Union -- Frank Yallop’s side regrouped to take five points from its next three Eastern Conference fixtures. But the month of September began with three consecutive defeats to conference foes, resulting in the club parting ways with Yallop and assistant coaches Clint Mathis and Marc Bircham on Sept. 20. On the same date, the Chicago Fire announced the hiring of general manager Nelson Rodriguez, a longtime MLS and US Soccer executive.
Technical director Brian Bliss made a move to the bench to serve as interim head coach for the season’s final five games, joined by former Fire captain Logan Pause as interim assistant coach. The Fire secured an impressive 3-1 win over playoff-bound New England Revolution on Oct. 3 -- the same night on which club legend Ante Razov became the newest member to the Ring of Fire -- but closed the season with consecutive defeats to D.C. United and Supporters’ Shield-winning New York Red Bulls to finish with an 8-20-6 overall record.
Following the season, midfielder Matt Polster was recognized for his impressive rookie campaign when he was selected as a finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year honors. The dynamic David Accam finished as the Team MVP and Golden Boot winner (10 goals), while Eric Gehrig was tabbed as the team’s Defensive Player of the Year in his inaugural season with his hometown club.
Also on the individual front, league veterans Jon Busch and Jeff Larentowicz each reached the 300 appearance plateau during the 2015 season.