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Three Questions With: Hot Time in Old Town

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Sean Spence drops by to give us some insight into this weekend's match-up

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps will go looking for their first win of the season whey they lock horns with the Chicago Fire this weekend, so no better time to check in with Sean Spence and our sister SBNation blog, Hot Time in Old Town. We talk Mike Magee, the Fire's new-look roster, and how they plan to rebound from a loss to the Galaxy.

86Forever: 2014 was not as kind to Mike Magee as 2013 was. What's a reasonable expectation for him this season, goal-wise?

Sean Spence: Magee's 2014 started poorly and ended poorer. Fortunately, his tentative movement and oddly unconvincing finishing are symptoms we can chalk up to the the labrum tear which ended his season - apparently, the MVP was fighting the hip problem for months before going under the knife in August.

Mike's still a few weeks from fully participating in training, so he's season is again going to be a bit truncated; we expect him back in a month or two. Once he returns, he'll find himself surrounded by better attacking talent, though. Assuming no further health setbacks, I'd look for Magee to chip in 8-10 goals this season.

86F: Plenty of roster turnover for the Fire this season, which newcomer has looked the best to you so far?

SS: The Designated Players have not been overwhelming success stories in the very early season; the hope is that they're still adjusting to the league and their teammates.

Two less-heralded players have looked dramatically better than I expected - Trinidadian left back Joevin Jones and defender/midfielder Matt Polster. Jones has the pace to handle the considerable number of quick right wingers in MLS, and his positioning and timing of forward runs is much better than expected for a guy who's never previously been exclusively a defender.

Polster, considered by many a reach when picked No. 7 by the Fire, has looked the part of a first-round draft pick consistently, combining tremendous bite and discipline with a surprising calm under pressure and the ability to find a simple pass.

86F: What can be learned from the 2-0 loss to the Galaxy last week?

SS: Not so much, frankly.

The team that started the game did not look ready to play, and even in their better moments showed no ability to keep the ball against LA's pressing; the midfield will need to show a great deal more, and we expect some shake-ups in the XI. The combination of Qunicy Amarikwa and Kennedy Igboananike has at least one dude too many trying improbable stuff, instead of connecting possession. And so on.

The season is so very young that the main narratives have yet to take shape; we're looking more for improvement and rational decisions than absolute results. That said, another febrile outing where the Men in Red are out-fought and out-thought will have supporters full of anxiety.


Predicted Fire XI (4-4-2): Sean Johnson; Joevin Jones, Adaílton, Jeff Larentowicz (c), Lovel Palmer; Harry Shipp, Matt Polster, Michael Stephens, Shaun Maloney; Guly do Prado, Kennedy Igboananike.

Score prediction: Draw-masters gonna draw, and the Fire do here, clawing back from an early deficit for a 1-1 tie.

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