OTF Roundtable: Chicago Fire Week 26
Each and every Wednesday, OTF contributors chime in on the state of our Chicago Fire…
There was a lot of gloom and doom after the 2-0 loss to New England this weekend. With 11 games left, is it time to fold up the tent? Should Fire Nation still have hope? Why or why not?
The Fire looked dull, and overall appalling against New England, lacking creativity and innovation. Though at times it seemed Mike Magee could do it all, he could only carry the Fire so far. Not to mention they have made what seem like typical, ineffective Chicago Fire midseason signings. With the future not in their own hands, it seems bleak that the Fire has any shot at making the playoffs. The stat that gives Fire fans hope is the game in hand on Houston.
Looking at the Fire’s schedule, 5 home and 6 away matches is an even balance but with their opponents, it seems almost an impossible task. The next two matches are crucial and all 6 points must be earned against KC and Houston; a slip up from the latter would help massively. Then the Fire head to Seattle who are playing great and have signed American Starlet Clint Dempsey. After that, Toronto, where the Fire have struggled in the past.
They end the season at New York and manager Mike Petke has the Red Bulls firing. Needless to say, the Fire needs to win out and hope for Houston and New England to slip up. Not all hope is lost, but with the lack of a creative attacking midfielder and a manager who can’t seem to put his players in the right positions, the odds are stacking up against the Fire to make the playoffs.
You couldn’t realistically look at the Fire’s away game in New England and expect a victory, not with the current turf ‘streak’, which is as nasty as the burn one receives when sliding on the synthetic slop that tries to pass as grass.
Looking at the schedule — which is potentially daunting given the competition — there is still time for a playoff run. It needs to begin Friday night against Sporting Kansas City. With 11 games remaining, Chicago can ill afford to give away points to the teams above it in the standings.
While I just said that the Fire can still make the playoffs, I believe that Frank Klopas’s lack of adjustments and bewildering in-game management will leave the Men in Red on the outside looking in. Here’s to hoping Magee and Anangonó click, and that La Cacha is given the freedom to play either the 6 or the 10, depending on the situation.
I’ve figured the Fire’s playoff hopes were long gone for awhile now, and the loss to the Revolution was just icing on the cake. Consistency is a tough thing to come by in MLS this year, but all the serious contenders have something in common: they have a clear game plan, and a mostly clear starting eleven barring injuries. The Fire, meanwhile, are once again in a position of figuring out their formations and how to play with each other after a series of mid-season moves.
It’s tough to expect the Fire to go on another streak of wins down the stretch. Now with Rios in the mix, I’m puzzled as to where the offense is going to come from. He and Larentowicz playing together seemed defensively sound for most of the night, but without a player like Alex in the midfield to generate offense, I don’t see how the Fire are going to score goals. Why a team splurges on a defensive midfielder when it’s already full of defensive mids will never make sense to me.
Anyway, the Fire are still mathematically in the hunt, but you have to agree that the teams above them right now are simply better. The race is done, and it’s time to start building for next year. Of course, we know Frank doesn’t play youth (speaking of, where is Atouba, and wouldn’t he have been better than 4 defensive mids late in the game against the Revs?), and he’s probably looking forward to blowing up the team yet again next offseason.
Please, oh please, someone end the Klopas Roller Coaster of Sadness.
The season is not over for Chicago Fire, but in the distance I hear the death bells ringing after the loss to New England Revolution. The Fire’s winning hot streak in MLS competition ended with this loss and left it five points off the playoff contention spot. There are still eleven games to play, and anything can happen with the remaining thirty-three points. However, it sure seems like the hammer is raised to strike the final nail in the coffin for the 2013 Chicago Fire and manager Frank Klopas.
The somewhat silver lining to the loss was that Arévalo Rios saw his first action and Juan Luis Anangonó is getting productive minutes to test his mettle and fitness against MLS competition. Also, Sherjill MacDonald has left the building. Dilly Duka is proving he’s is playmaker from the outside midfield. Every time he gets the ball he tries to make something happen by attempting to beat his man with his mad dribbling skills.
The bad news is there was very little cohesion from this Fire team last Saturday night. Now, there is little room left for mistakes. The defense needs to be sharper, the midfield needs to have more vision, and the strikers need to be killers if the Fire wants to advance to the playoffs.
My initial reaction was to try and be hopeful. After all, the Men in Red have been getting results in league play of late. The optimist in me said that Saturday night was just a bad night, on a terrible field, in a terrible stadium. But my eyes told me something different.
So, I took an analytical approach to the question at hand, and I concluded that it’s time to fold up the tent. I think ESPN even named a crappy show after the Fire’s current position. It’s called “The Numbers Never Lie”.
After this weekend, the Fire are sitting in 7th place with 31 points and 11 games to go. Last season, it took 53 points to reach the 5th seed in the East, which is what I think it’ll take again this year. No matter how many different ways I look at the schedule, I can’t find the 22 points they need. In theory, the two easiest opportunities to take 3 points are at home or against teams with fewer points. Those account for 8 of the Fire’s 11 remaining games or 24 points. In home games vs SKC, Houston, Toronto, NE and Montreal and road games at Toronto, Cowlumbus and DC, I believe 15-18 points may be realistic. And of the other 3 (at Red Balls, Seattle and Dallas), they may take a point. That simply doesn’t get it done.
If I’m right, hopefully a regime change follows.
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