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Fire bring back German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger for 2019 season

The Fire answered one of their biggest offseason questions Wednesday. They still have plenty more to figure out.

The Fire announced midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger will return for a third season as a designated player. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Schweinsteiger earned $6.1 million in total compensation in 2018, according to the MLS Players Association.

‘‘Let’s raise a trophy,’’ Schweinsteiger, 34, said in a statement. ‘‘I believe in this club, and I believe that we can be champions. This American journey has been very special for me and my family. I love being a part of the Chicago Fire, and we appreciate how the city has embraced us with open arms.’’

Schweinsteiger, a World Cup champion with Germany and a decorated star from his time with Bayern Munich, has been part of one successful season with the Fire (2017) and one not-so-successful one (2018).

Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger (31) in the second half of an MLS soccer match Wednesday, June 13, 2018, in Commerce City, Colo. The teams played to a 2-2 tie. | David Zalubowski/Associated Press

‘‘In a lot of ways, Basti has come to embody our club, the prototypical Fire player and the spirit of Chicago: industrious, intelligent, enthusiastic, talented and world-class,’’ Fire president and general manager Nelson Rodriguez said in a statement. ‘‘His return demonstrates our continuing effort to build a championship program, both on and off the field.’’

Rodriguez and the Fire have much to accomplish before becoming that kind of franchise. And getting Schweinsteiger back is only part of what they needed to do.

Coach Veljko Paunovic doesn’t have a contract, though it’s thought he will be back for a fourth season. And the Fire is again in flux after a season that saw them drop from 16-11-7 in 2017 to 8-18-8 this year. They haven’t won a major honor since the 2006 U.S. Open Cup.

Off the field, the Fire are looking for a new shirt sponsor after the end of their deal with Valspar. They also have unresolved issues with their most diehard fans after their decision in June to ban the Sector Latino supporters group for violations of the team’s code of conduct. That triggered a conflict with the Section 8 Chicago independent supporters association.

Tossing Teddy Bears
The Wolves will hold their first teddy-bear toss during the first intermission of their game Sunday against the Texas Stars at Allstate Arena. Fans are asked to bring a new teddy bear or other stuffed animal, and they will be donated to Toys for Tots.