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The Best Of Both World - 2014 Beer-view: Chicago Fire

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Jeff Crandall / Senior Content Producer, Chicago Fire

Team: Chicago Fire

Coach: Frank Yallop

Is he the right man for the job?

Yes. Yallop has brought a fresh air to a Fire team that saw 2013 end in bitter disappointment after a great fight back from the start of the season. He’s clearly accomplished in MLS with three domestic titles and two Coach of the Year awards to his name but beyond that, he’s shown to be a coach that always gets the most out of his players.

Yallop has put together a strong support staff in the form of assistants C.J. Brown and Clint Mathis and Technical Director Brian Bliss. Training sessions run more efficiently and players seem to be grasping the directing being given much more easily than in the past. Simply put, Yallop and crew do well to relate to the MLS player because they all were at some point in their career. They keep things loose for the guys but are able to command respect and be serious when it’s called for.

Player(s) to watch?

With Mike Magee being the obvious one, I’d point to new Fire youngsters Benji Joya and Harry Shipp.

Joya comes in as a very young professional with two-and-a-half years experience already from his time with Mexican side Santos Laguna. The San Jose, California native can play throughout the midfield has been adept at playing two ways, scoring and setting up some quality goals in preseason. In his first real game for the Fire in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat to Chivas, Joya showed poise, scoring literally seconds after entering the match

After a very successful senior season at Notre Dame where he helped the Irish to their first College Cup and finished as runner-up for the MAC-Hermann award, it was a huge win for the Fire to claim Shipp as a Homegrown player. Most agree Shipp would have been a top three pick in the SuperDraft and he backed up the hype with two goals and an assist in preseason. Shipp has fantastic attacking vision and a soccer brain that you don’t see from a lot of players that have played four years collegiately.

The pair above were the only two to get significant minutes with the first team group in preseason and it wouldn’t surprised me to see one or both of them continue that during the year.

Predictions for 2014?

Photo Credit: AleHeads.com

I truly think that the Eastern Conference is a crap shoot in 2014. There are certain teams you would say for sure will be in the playoffs but I have no reasonable prediction for them. Yallop has had to deal with an incredibly tight salary budget inherited from mis-steps made by the last group so expecting many reinforcements isn’t likely. That said, I think the Fire will be a playoff team but will probably have to battle through the Knockout Round again in the East. The hope every year in Chicago is to catch that elusive fifth U.S. Open Cup title and Yallop has earned high praise for saying he plans to take the competition seriously.

Myself and many others would probably take Open Cup glory over a fourth place finish in the East.

Local Beer Pairing:

I’m not sure it fits with our team but my favorite “Chicagoland” beer would be 3 Floyds Brewing Co.  “Robert the Bruce” Scottish Ale (Munster, IN).

Dark, malty goodness is right up my alley. If I have to find a way to relate it to the Fire, I would say I hope this team battles as well against MLS as this guy did against England.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

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