Look back at some of the week's most notable headlines and what's being said about the Men In Red early in the offseason:
Part of the Plan?
In the wake of the U.S. Men's National Team's recent 2017 finale -- a 1-1 draw at Portugal in an international friendly -- MLSsoccer.com's Matthew Doyle took a look at how the squad's depth chart may shake out in the transition times ahead. The two bookends of the Chicago Fire's 2017 defensive unit earned inclusion in Doyle's projections, with left back Brandon Vincent landing the top spot at his position and right back Matt Polster checking in at No. 3. Click here to see the entirety of Doyle's proposed player pool.
Number 1 Newcomer
After his Golden Boot-winning debut campaign in MLS, Fire striker was tabbed by Goal.com as its choice as MLS Newcomer of the Year for 2017. Nikolic remains in the running for the league's official Newcomer of the Year honor, alongside fellow finalists Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez, both of Atlanta United FC. The winner is set to be announced Monday (Nov. 20). No Fire player has won the league award since its inception in 2007.
In the realm of less official MLS awards, the league on Friday put forth its list of 10 best 2016-17 offseason player acquisitions by non-expansion clubs. Author Ben Baer took the liberty of grouping the Fire triumvirate of Nikolic, Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger into one collective acquisition that helped define the club's bounce-back season. Click here to see who else made the cut.
Homegrown Hype Train
As the NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship kicked off this week, MLSsoccer.com's Sam Stejskal gave his thoughts on top collegiate players who could make a successful jump to the MLS ranks down the road. The first name on his list was Chicago Fire Homegrown prospect and Indiana Fire Academy alum Cameron Lindley, a sophomore standout at the University of North Carolina who was named the 2017 ACC Midfielder of the Year. Stejskal also highlighted dominant Indiana University centerback and Big Ten Defender of the Year Grant Lillard, another highly touted Chicago Fire Academy product. Click here for Stejskal's thoughts on both players and his full list of collegiate names to know.