Goalkeeper David Ousted among changes to Fire

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Fire goalkeeper David Ousted makes a diving save in a 1-0 victory against Charleston Battery on Feb. 23, 2019, in Charleston, S.C. | Chicago Fire Soccer Club

Goalkeeper David Ousted knows why he was acquired by the Fire.

After trading Sean Johnson following the 2016 season, the Fire have struggled for consistency in net. They’ve tried journeymen, youngsters and veterans, but the results haven’t been great.

They think they found a steady presence in Ousted.

“That’s what I’m here to do,’’ Ousted said. ‘‘That’s what I’m going to work very hard at trying to do, create consistency in that goal. I think it’s one of my strengths, the consistency I bring to every game. Hopefully I’ll be there to save some points, as well.”

Ousted, 34, spent five seasons with the Vancouver Whitecaps and made two MLS All-Star teams before spending 2018 with D.C. United. The Fire claimed him off waivers in January, and he’s expected to make his debut in the season opener Saturday against the host L.A. Galaxy.

He’ll do so against a team that features Zlatan Ibrahimovic and could punish the Fire for any mistakes. And the Fire has an unsettled back line that’s still working to get used to each other and Ousted.

“It’s obviously something every team is trying to get, that cohesiveness in the back,” Ousted said. “It only comes with games together, practices together and getting to know each other. It’s a work in progress, but I already think we’ve come a long way getting to know each other in this preseason.

“I don’t have any doubt that we’re going to figure it out.”

The addition of Ousted wasn’t the only big transaction during a busy offseason. The Fire re-signed coach Veljko Paunovic, iconic midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger and defender Johan Kappelhof. New players include midfielder Przemysław Frankowski, forward C.J. Sapong and defender Marcelo. They did lose the versatile Matt Polster to Scottish club Rangers and promising defender Brandon Vincent to retirement. Off the field, the team found a new jersey sponsor and made peace with Section 8 Chicago after a battle over the banishment of Sector Latino during the 2018 season.

But despite the changes, the math is the same.

Once one of the most consistent teams in MLS, the Fire have played in only two playoff games this decade. One year after what was supposed to be a breakthrough 2017, the Fire went 8-18-8 and plummeted to 10th in what was an 11-team Eastern Conference. 

Yet again, the Fire hope to bounce back from a bad season. And again, their fans are hoping the new year is different from the recent past. Ousted has some

reasons why he thinks that will happen.

“It’s about passion,’’ he said. ‘‘This team is ready to show the people who are going to be in the stadium, the people who are going to be watching, that this team has passion.

“It’s there to win, it’s there to give 100 percent. Are we going to win 34 games? Maybe not, but I can promise you that this team is going to give 100 percent in all those 34 games.”

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