OTF Roundtable: Chicago Fire Week Two
Each week, OTF contributors tell you like it is and bring you their gut feelings on the state of the Fire.
Q: What happened in LA and what needs to happen at home vs. New England on Saturday?
I wanted to be wrong about the season opener. I wanted to spend two days writing up an apology for doubting the Fire. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
Countless passes that went straight out of bounds, well over 45 minutes without a single shot on goal, and a midfield that was incredibly unremarkable all added up to a game that was called nothing short of disastrous. Sure, Arne Friedrich was missing and the midfield is still a “work in progress,” but no reason in the world can excuse a hat trick plus one on opening day after a successful preseason.
Dilly Duka, Joel Lindpere, and Maicon Santos might’ve physically been on the field, but mentally, I don’t think any of them made it to LA. A single chance on a free kick was the only action worth mentioning from any of them. The only player I have anything good to say about is Sean Johnson. Without him in goal, it could’ve easily been 8-0.
Looking to the home opener, I expect a better performance and a win. The midfield is still being sorted, but I’m hoping to see a slightly different set of starters on Saturday (including, hopefully, Friedrich and Pause) take on an untested New England squad. While the Revs were stuck with a bye on opening week, Chicago has a chance to work out some of the kinks we saw in LA. I’m hoping that happens.
LA shredded the Fire this weekend. In fact, I think Chicago was lucky to only lose 4-0. The LA offense was dynamic and their defense was pretty much in lock-down mode save for Chicago’s two scoring chances in the first half. Steve Kinney had the worst match of anyone on the field, but wasn’t the only reason the Fire lost.
The entire team seemed outclassed from the first whistle. I’ll just pretend the game didn’t happen and show up Saturday ready to watch the REAL season opener.
Here’s what needs to happen on Saturday at Toyota Park: The fans need to show up, get that place rockin’, and show the squad we’re behind them. From a team standpoint, we need to get E.T. to come down for a night (or even hire him for the season) and heal Arne Friedrich and Logan Pause so they can anchor a drifting back line. Their presence would free up the midfield and allow the Fire to get a little more sustained pressure in the attacking third.
I would also like to see Sherjill MacDonald in the starting XI. Although my nickname for Mackie last season was “Almost,” he usually positions himself to make plays and he should benefit from an upgraded midfield…SHOULD.
We could spend all day beating our heads against the wall, decrying the failure of our supposed “Magnificent Midfield.” However, this distracts from a larger problem that haunted the Fire at the Home Improvement center.
Innumerable times the ball was simply given away in the midfield to the sighs and frustrations of players, fans, and Frank Klopas alike. The inability to maintain effective ball control, and the failure to complete simple passes under pressure allowed the Galaxy to play offensively without having to break a sweat. Moreover, the early and late game subs may have betrayed the team that Klopas actually wanted to play.
I’m all for experimentation, but the preseason is over and flights of fancy are now more appropriate in film review theoreticals and on the training pitch. If Mackie is back next week, look for him to connect with Rolfe and build effective attacks. I’m also looking forward to getting Arne back and filling the leadership vacuum that plagued our back line at LA. However, given this week’s reports, it appears I may have to wait at least another week for Ze German to return.
As the cliché goes, the only way from here is up for the Chicago Fire. After being outplayed in every facet of the game against the Los Angeles Galaxy, let’s hope the Fire played its worst game of the season last Sunday. I can’t recall the last time Chicago took such a thumping.
There was much hype around this team coming into the game. The sense was (and perhaps still is) that they improved significantly during the the off-season. But Sunday demonstrated that there is still a lack of cohesion with this unit. Although the team performed badly as a whole, I still can’t come to grips with the fact that the Fire only had one shot on goal – off a free kick. To me, the game was lost at center midfield, as they were overrun, could not keep possession, and could not create space for the wings and forwards with effective ball distribution.
Granted, this is only the first game of the season. And with Donovan MIA and Beckham gone forever, LA played like it had something to prove. That said, Chicago must sort out its “cohesion issues” quickly if they want to be contenders.
We missed Arne as our general and need his leadership against the Revs this Saturday. I’m not counting on it though. And I’m not sure why our most technical player started on the bench, but Mackie needs to start this weekend. I could go on and on…frustrated. I don’t want to revert back to the empty bucket formation.
Want a seat at the OTF Roundtable? Send us an email at email@example.com and we’ll tell you how to join the conversation…