OTF Roundtable: Chicago Fire Week 16
Each and every week, OTF’s writers and contributors chime in on the state of the Fire…
Was the result against Portland Timbers simply a matter of luck?
What’s your take on the USOC match this Wednesday vs. Columbus?
We’ve had two good weeks in a row as Fire supporters, and it’s clearly gone to our heads. Nabbing a result at home against the Timbers — a team that was short four starters — is not something to be monumentally excited about. Quite honestly, it should be expected.
It’s clear that Mike Magee has brought over more than his goal-scoring prowess; he’s demands excellence and doesn’t tolerate mediocrity. (Note: Magee dismissed Frank Klopas’s congratulatory offering after a DC United performance that was not up to his standards.) We need to see more of the team operate like Mike, and stop being pleased with draws at home.
With the Fire playing the Yellow Submarine twice in quick succession, it will be interesting to see who Klopas puts on the field. Since a playoff berth looks a long way up, I’d expect Chicago to put out their best team for the Lamar Hunt trophy game, and we’ll see what happens from there.
It’s not a question. Mike Magee got lucky against Portland. It’s really more of a question of whether or not the Fire was scoring any lucky goals before acquiring Mike Magee, which it was not. The adage stands true: luck is a byproduct of persistence, and the Men in Red finally look to have the heart to be tenacious.
Though the last four matches have been encouraging, there is still a lot of climbing for Chicago to do if they’re to land that fifth playoff spot. A long string of winable games ahead is encouraging, leaving only a lack of back line depth as the obstacle that could stand in the way of the Fire’s ascension. Another injury at right back or center back would be a cruel foil.
One immediate barometer for the Fire’s current form will come tonight in the form of a U.S. Open Cup match against the Columbus Crew at home. This is a real chance for Chicago to make a big statement.
Columbus undeniably has the short end of the stick on this matchup. While Chicago gets to rest for an entire week, a battered, injury-ridden Crew side has the daunting task of hosting Eastern Conference leaders Montreal Impact this Saturday. Such cruel scheduling fate will surely knock the Columbus squad’s quality down a rung or two.
Frank Klopas sent the A-list down to Charlotte for the Eagles, so why not welcome the Crew back to Toyota Park with the same gusto? Only this time with a couple snarling new toys…
Chicago Fire 2, Portland Timbers 2. Simply a matter of luck? No. Lucky? Yes. But here’s the rub: it didn’t have to be that way.
If Frank Klopas would flip the script, so to speak, and field an attacking XI composed of his best performers to date (and not nostalgic favorites), his club would have a better chance at winning — something it must do from here on out. It’s elementary my dear gaffer: play offensive soccer during the first 60-65 minutes or so. Then, if you must, change the personnel and tactics to protect a lead or draw.
After two years at the helm, it’s no accident or coincidence that Frank Klopas’s Chicago Fire only scores first 34% of the time. His philosophy invites it. Unfortunately though, his personnel doesn’t warrant it. And here’s what’s maddening: the man is undefeated (19-0-4) when his team scores first. Let me repeat: undefeated.
Regarding the U.S. Open Cup 4th round war with Columbus, a super storm looms, so it’ll be interesting to see when this game gets played. If the forecast is even remotely correct, let’s hope it’s Thursday. That said, the Fire should win this game and advance to a quarterfinal matchup at home vs. the winner of the Sporting KC/Orlando City match in two weeks.
The Crew resemble a M*A*S*H unit right now, and never win at Toyota Park anyway. Moreover, despite the fact that a few Fire vets could use a rest, with his next match scheduled for a week from today at home, I’ll be shocked if Klopas doesn’t field a full-strength XI against a weakened Columbus side. Given its history and importance to the club and its fans, the gaffer should have his men amped to win the Cup. Plus, it may be the only way to save his neck come November.
Sure, Portland didn’t have four of their prized pieces, but the draw felt more like a win. So congrats to the Men in Red on their second half never-say-die attitude.
On the other hand, the Timbers attacking force should have scored its first two goals in the first ten minutes, which would have likely put Chicago away for good. But that’s luck. Sometimes it goes your way. So was the result just a matter of luck? Yes and no.
Portland should have been up at least two goals in the first half, but the soccer gods had mercy on the Fire and let them escape the half down just one. The second half showed a completely different Chicago squad and proved how dangerous they can be when Klopas fields the right players, *cough* Paladini *cough* Santos. Chicago’s second-half surge gives me hope that the gaffer will realize which players (and tactics) give his club its best chance to win.
Heading into the Columbus match, Klopas must be wary of players who have logged a significant amount of minutes lately. Bakary Soumare could sure use a break; Gonzalo Segares and Patrick Nyarko too.
Realistically though, Patty will play the full 90 and Alex will be in the mix as well. I would like to see Santos in with Paladini, so they can get some consistency with Magee and Nyarko. As far as resting Baky goes, the option is to move Jalil Anibaba back to the middle alongside Austin Berry, and use one of the Fire’s (non) right backs in his stead (Mike Videira, Wells Thompson, Logan Pause).
Columbus will bring a mix of their A and B teams, and I think the Fire will do the same. With Paladini pulling the strings and feeding Magee, I see Chicago swatting the Bumblebees out of the U.S. Open Cup and away for good.
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