The Fire midfield has been perhaps the most interesting area for the team this offseason. Come Sunday in LA, its expected that three of the four traditional slots in midfield will be filled by new players. Two of those will come in the central midfield where it appears the team has the most strength in their options this season.
Positionally speaking, the most intriguing part of preseason has been seeing the new partnership of offseason acquisitions Jeff Larentowicz and Joel Lindpere (right). The tandem has been given the whole of preseason to develop their new partnership and shown improvement in every game.
LISTEN: All-In Podcast with Jeff Larentowicz
With last year's finish and Pavel Pardo's potential retirement announcement looming, the central midfield was an area of the park that the club sought to improve over the offseason according to Fire President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon.
"We definitely felt we needed to strengthen our team in this area," he told Chicago-Fire.com last week. "We scouted abroad, looked at our potential options there and then looked domesically and felt Joel and Jeff, with their proven track record in the league, were better options to move us in the direction we wanted to go."
That direction appears to be a more dynamic one in midfield, as the team is able to build more in the center of the park rather than rely quite as much on the wings as they have in recent years.
They also provide options on set pieces, with Lindpere one of two main dead-ball takers for the team while Larentowicz looks to be a primary target in the box.
The two have been so strong that they’ve bumped captain Logan Pause out of the center of the park and to a potential role at right back. Still, with more than 300 competitive games played, Pause is more than serviceable and will likely see plenty of minutes in both spots this season, especially when Lindpere goes out on international duty for Estonia.
READ: Postional Breakdown on the Backline
Though he played in less matches in his second year with the Fire, central midfielder Daniel Paladini arguably had more of impact for the team with two goals and two assists in 2012. A bulldog in the center of the park, Paladini comes off another strong preseason and can step in to play the two-way role in a pinch, while also providing valuable minutes as a second-half substitute.
The depth between just those four players is great but also consider the team has MLS veterans Wells Thompson and Michael Videira who can play utility roles throughout the midfield as well as a more attacking option in Alex (who played centrally a bit last season) and potentially Corben Bone.
Whether its MLS or Open Cup play, the central midfield should be a source of strength for the Fire in 2013.
Stay tuned to Chicago-Fire.com Tuesday as we look at the team's options on the wings.