Draw of Draws: Chicago Fire (3) vs. DC United (3)
OTF’s Alex White reaches conclusions and paints you a picture of the Fire’s latest you-know-what…
For their 16th draw of the year, to tie the single-season record, at least the Fire had the good grace to make it an eventful game.
There was a bit of offensive set-piece fun, the kind that implies there is actual coaching during practice; an amazing Amarikwa curler to score the opening goal; a frenetic Q-drawn penalty, and Capt. Larentowicz finishing in the way no goalie can stop.
Even with this being a tie and all, DC’s mirror-image response was striking. They drew a penalty of their own, though Sean Johnson got a piece of it on the way in, and executed an absolute dream free kick, about which the TV announcer used the word, “perfect,” justifiably.
We got to see some old classics, too, like the trademarked Fire goal-mouth comedy-of-errors go-behind goal. The sting of it was removed slightly by Watson’s long-distance, deflected score to knot things at three-all, where they stood at the final whistle.
After the game, the players owned the soccer conversation by complaining quite bluntly about the state of the field, and how it made rolling a ball, particularly into a net, virtually impossible. Why, it’s nothing short of a miracle that any goals were scored at all, but somehow these two teams defied physics and nature for six! If I were a more cynical man, I’d think it was all a deflection from the team’s consistent failure. And if I was an even more cynical man, I’d wonder whether pointing out a possible breach by bankrupted-Bridgeview was some sort of negotiating posture to improve a deal or excuse a release clause. So it’s a good think I’m not cynical you guys, lolz! ;-p
But back to events on the field, where the Fire’s goals are signs for optimism next year as the young talent improves and gels, with the huge proviso that the errors are finally shelved. And, yes, I speak of next season, and I heartily recommend Brian Battle’s recent coda on this one.
Though the team is still mathematically alive, and the farcical talk of a playoff push hasn’t quite been extinguished, the idea that this bunch could put together a win streak and take home what the league has dubbed it’s most important trophy sullies the entire concept of the regular season. The Fire should be putting all their effort into assembling and developing the best squad for next season, not making short-term decisions for the sake of this one. Sadly, it’s been time to look ahead to next year almost from the beginning.
But this season has been a remarkable one, if only for the sheer size and variation of draws. In a league like MLS, where each team is strictly regulated in order to be as evenly-matched as possible, one would think that draws would always be the order of the day, but those results aren’t as common as that same one might have then thought. It’s taken an incredible amount of inconsistency, with flashes of brilliance and slapstick, and it’s taken a remarkable chain of the wrong kind of luck at the wrong time, good and bad, for the Fire to get to this point.
Still, despite all that, the record is only tied, not beaten…
I’m reminded of this past winter, towards the end of it when I started to become snow-mad and stir-crazy, when we’d reached March as Chicago’s third-snowiest winter on record. And that got me thinking: I don’t want to tell people that I lived through the third-snowiest winter! That little qualifier would drive me crazy. It’d be so much better to say the snowiest. To tell the kids about when times are good, they way I kept having to hear about ’78. It got me looking up the table at #1, only ten more inches away, hoping for a snowstorm, and thinking, Well, if we’re this close, why not make the story just a bit better? After enduring all that we had, what would a little bit more cost our spirits?
Sure, there’s a sort of existential delight in tying the tie record, and that would be such a Fire way to go out this year. That said, there are six more games. After the season we’ve had, are you going to put your money on none of those six rolls of the dice coming up even?
Six more chances, Fire. Let’s make this a season to remember. To tell the grandkids about in the bleachers, as we chuckle to recall it over a pint, when the sun is on our faces again. Winning’s nice and all, but being a fan is about telling those stories of suffering. After this season, Fire, you can give us that much.
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Find Alex in his virtual drawing room, @A1exWhite.