A vote of no confidence for Nelson Rodriguez and the Chicago Fire

- I've been covering the Chicago Fire for 14 years. My colleagues Don MacGregor and Rusty Silber have been covering the team for even longer. We can just shake our heads that things have gotten this far. We didn't do three hopes and one fear this season for the Fire, but the one fear I had was that the Fire did not build on 2017 when it seemed that they were finally on the right path fear has been realized in the worst way possible.  A lot of this falls on Nelson Rodriguez. He was given the title of President to add to his role as General Manager. We now feel that this was a mistake in hindsight. I have been of the belief as well as others that the President should oversee both the business operations and set the vision for the club for both COO John Urban and Rodriguez to follow. Not only was there a mistake in the appointment itself, but the timing of the decision (January) seemed poor. This might have been better served shortly after the season and then Rodriguez could focus on the matters at hand. Instead the Fire, by Rodriguez's own admission, had an 'incomplete' roster.  The acquisitions that the Fire did make over the winter such as Kevin Ellis, Tony Tchani, and Rafael Ramos; and their first draft pick Jon Bakero have all since left the club. While the acquisition of Aleksandar Katai turned out to be a good one, the Fire failed to adequately add depth to a roster beset by injuries and did not build around what they have. That includes a #10 which has become to the Fire what a quarterback is to the Bears, a center back to partner with Johan Kappelhof, and adding more proven winners to the squad. Veljko Paunovic is not blameless in this by any means (Brandon Vincent is not a center-back), but he has been dealt an unbelievably bad hand by Rodriguez. The ESPN+ deal, especially since that was not announced until just before the start of the season, is not worth the rights fee as it's not worth denying fans who still prefer to watch soccer on linear platforms that still provide decent exposure to teams who need it. Then there is the whole Section 101 fiasco in which Nelson Rodriguez is coming off more and more like Dean Wormer fromAnimal  response after his second roundtable comes off as someone hoping there would be a snitch among the groups. The blanket ban was wrong and that they are banning individuals now for protesting by entering Section 101 on July 21st only shows contempt for the club's most ardent supporters. Nelson Rodriguez has essentially lost the proverbial locker room when it comes to the Fire Faithful. He has now placed himself in the bad disgraces as majority owner Andrew Hauptman. About Hauptman, the Fire have gone through many personnel the way Spinal Tap has gone through drummers over the past decade. The Fire have gone on a steady decline for the most part since Ned Grabavoy converted the deciding penalty in the 2009 Eastern Conference Final. They have not won a playoff game since. They have lost five US Open Cup semifinals since and most of them in bad fashion. Of course, there was that editorial in 2013. The one constant through all of this has been Andrew Hauptman. We are once again questioning his commitment to this club and again questioning his competence as an owner. You have to ask yourself if 50 lamb are better off being led by a lion than 50 lions being led by a lamb. Hauptman's leadership looks more like the latter. Any progress this club made in 2017 has been eroded by the actions of Mr. Rodriguez with the complicit approval by Andrew Hauptman both on and off the pitch. The results are clear to see. So where are we going with this? Quite simply, things have gotten to the point where in the eyes of many, there is no confidence in this front office to do the reasonable thing let alone the right thing. We have warned that continued decline would demand outside intervention either from the league (such as from Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber though some believe Rodriguez himself coming to the Fire was an example of outside intervention) or from someone else (such as now-minority owner Joe Mansueto) to rescue this club. Chicago is the third largest market in the United States with a passionate fan base for soccer. The Fire should not be 22nd in the league in average attendance and only because of a club who has a carpetbagger owner like Anthony Precourt. When Diego Gutierrez, one of the legends of this club, calls what is going on a s***show and wonders if the leadership is purposely trying to kill off the franchise, that's a sign that there is simply no confidence in this front office to build a winning franchise. That is where we are at right now with the Chicago Fire. I've been covering this team for 14 years and this is the darkest things have been with this team not just because they are clearly not good enough on the pitch, but off the pitch it seems like the club is treating its own fans with contempt. That's not something Major League Soccer should tolerate and they certainly should not tolerate the notion that a future USL club set to begin in 2020 become more popular than the Fire because of their potential owner Tom Ricketts and the location of the proposed stadium in the city. If there is any team that needs an intervention, it's one that Taylor Twellman called a "dying franchise" before the 2016 SuperDraft. Sadly, it may have to come from the outside as there is no confidence that it will come internally anytime soon. Chicago Fire August, 2018 Aug 10 A vote of no confidence for Nelson Rodriguez and the Chicago Fire Aug 09 Chicago Fire Double Down on Supporter Bans Aug 08 U.S. Open Cup Preview: Chicago Fire versus the Philadelphia Union Aug 06 Chicago soccer notes for Monday: A deep dish on all things Fire and Red Stars Aug 05 Fire Fall for a Record Sixth Straight Time MLS August, 2018 Aug 10 A vote of no confidence for Nelson Rodriguez and the Chicago Fire Aug 09 PKs push Dynamo into Open Cup Final Aug 09 Chicago Fire Double Down on Supporter Bans Aug 09 Canadian Championship Gallery: Toronto FC 2-Vancouver Whitecaps 2 Aug 08 U.S. Open Cup Preview: Chicago Fire versus the Philadelphia Union


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