A star has landed in Chicago. The transfer that seemed to be a preposterous rumor has turned out to be reality, and, suddenly, it doesn’t seem so silly. Bastian Schweinsteiger and the Chicago Fire, on paper, seem to be polar opposites, but, sometimes, opposites attract. The team has agreed to pay Schweinsteiger $4.5 million for his services in this season alone.
Bastian Schweinsteiger’s Professional Experience
Bastian Schweinsteiger is a World Cup winner, and that’s just a drop in the bucket of his long list of accolades. He’s also won the UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga, the German Cup, the German League Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup with one of his former clubs Bayern Munich. More recently, he gained an FA Cup and an English League Cup with Manchester United. Although he spent the last two seasons with a club that did not give him many minutes, he’s still a world class superstar that could arguably play for any team he wanted (except, of course, Manchester United, but that’s another story).
For the Chicago Fire, success is something sought after rather than attained. Last season, the club finished dead last in the MLS Easter Conference standings, several points away from any hope of a playoff berth. To make matters worse, the club ended the season with a negative sixteen goal differential.
Schweinsteiger’s Foundational Role with the Chicago Fire
Chicago’s bold move in signing Bastian Schweinsteiger, while unexpected, is certainly not unique. Struggling teams throw money at superstars all the time, but the strategy is not always successful. Chicago and Bastian are one game into this new relationship, and, so far, it’s going great.
Bastian’s debut was a story book beginning. He was included in the starting lineup and played for a full ninety minutes. He made three shots, one of which was on goal, and, most importantly, he made it to the back of the net with a goal that started the scoring in the seventeenth minute. The one somewhat sour note of the day was that the match finished 2-2 though the Chicago Fire resiliently equalized in overtime.
Immediate inclusion into the squad is significant for Schweinsteiger. He has spent most of his career being a pillar player for Bayern Munich. After a 2015 transfer to Manchester United, his status changed dramatically. To put it simply, he was out of favor with Jose Mourinho for the overwhelming majority of his stint with the Mancunian club. Despite all of his success, a player like Schweinsteiger did not fit with Mourinho’s plans. Although it is certainly too soon to predict a trend, Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunovic has made a statement about his plans for Bastian by allowing him to play a full match on his debut.
Schweinsteiger’s skills make him the perfect fix to the two problems that were plaguing the club last season. The team simply was not scoring enough and was being scored on too much. As a central midfielder, he can come up to score when necessary and also fall back into a more defensive role. His back-up in both the offense and the defense can bolster every man on the field.
Schweinsteiger’s Potential Financial Impact
In addition to making an impact on the field, Schweinsteiger can also make a huge impact with the Fire as a brand. The Chicago Fire certainly isn’t an MLS team like the LA Galaxy or NYCFC, that garners a large amount of international attention. With a world famous player in the club, the team can get some of the international spotlight, which will give it far more than bragging rights. Even if Schweinsteiger’s presence merely causes an increase in ticket sales, the added revenue can be invested into the club.
Schweinsteiger is a great player who was not getting the minutes he desired nor deserved with a player of his talent. The Chicago Fire is a great team that was not able to convert the talent within the team into success on the field in recent seasons. Together, these two entities can help each other meet their goals.