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Is it smart for Fire to stress continuity?

Sporting director Georg Heitz made it clear the Fire are hoping that keeping things mostly intact will help results and patch some of the cracks that kept the team out of the Eastern Conference’s top 10.

The 2021 Fire could look very similar to the 2020 version.
Courtesy of the Fire

Sporting director Georg Heitz said Friday that the Fire will try to strengthen their 28-man roster by adding two or three more signings. And with seven players on the verge of getting green cards, needed international spots could be opening soon.

But after the 2019-20 offseason brought so much change in so little time, Heitz made it clear he will focus on continuity as he looks ahead to next season. That begs the question: Is that a good idea considering the Fire won just five out of 23 games and couldn’t make the playoffs in a generous format?

“This is my perspective, that we didn’t end up being in the table where we belong with this team and we have to analyze the reasons why this is the case,” Heitz said during a Zoom media availability. “But we -really think that even against the best teams in this league, we were quite good. Obviously not good enough, but we don’t think that we lack a lot to be competitive, even with the best teams in this league. This is why.”

As Heitz noted, roster continuity hasn’t been a strength. Turnover has been a constant theme of former administrations and has been blamed for slow starts that blew up seasons as they began.

Heitz and the Fire hope that keeping things mostly intact will help results and patch some of the cracks that kept the team out of the Eastern Conference’s top 10. When he came aboard last December, the Fire had no coach and no designated players, and much of the roster needed to be rebuilt quickly. But Heitz didn’t blame that rush for how the season played out.

The task won’t be as extreme this winter, and for better or worse, much of last offseason’s work should be in effect for 2021.

“Due to what we did last winter, we had, until now, 18 new signings since I have joined the club, which is too many,” Heitz said. “We cannot be successful with that. So, we think that we laid the foundation, and we would really like to keep most of the players that we have this season.”

Heitz didn’t go into specifics about what he was looking to add this offseason, other than to say something on offense and defense and more competition for spots. Heitz dismissed the idea of buying down designated player Ignacio Aliseda’s contract, indicating that the Fire won’t be adding another DP because they’re already at the maximum of three.

As for the performance of coach Raphael Wicky and the staff, Heitz said they did a “great job.” He said the Fire were hurt by the -stop-start nature of the season caused by the pandemic but didn’t linger on the point.

Heitz bemoaned how they routinely allowed goals off set pieces and lost concentration after scoring but continued the familiar refrain that the Fire were better than their record.

“What we have to clearly improve is we have to convert our chances,” Heitz said. “We have to convert our performances into points. Many times, after the matches, the coaches of the other teams came to Rapha and told him, ‘Hey, great team.’ But we had lost the game. This is not why we are doing this. We want to be a winning side, and we have to work on our winning spirit. This is definitely clear.”

Perhaps, but it’s not clear whether running it back with a similar roster can bring different results.