Fire Road Win? A Capitol Idea!

2017-05-20 DC v CHI

(Photo courtesy chicago-fire.com)

The Chicago Fire traveled to Washington, DC on Saturday in search of their first away victory of 2017 and came home with all three points. They put away hapless DC United 1:0, a scoreline that flattered the home team. The Fire created a plethora of chances, and between the heroics of DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid and some of their own poor marksmanship, they missed an opportunity for a blowout win. Nonetheless, the Fire end Week 12 of the MLS season with 21 points from 12 matches, good for second place in the Eastern Conference. They trail leaders Toronto FC by five points, with Toronto having played one more match.

It is certainly gratifying to talk about the top end of the standings, rather than speculating on how the Fire might rise out of the muck and finish above the Red Line. Yes, there’s a lot of soccer left to be played, but this Fire team is doing a good job of ticking the boxes when talking about what it takes to be a competitive team. Their next test comes Thursday versus FC Dallas, who just dropped from the ranks of the undefeated in MLS. If beating Seattle was a “statement game,” a game against Dallas is a genuine measuring stick.

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Engine Company: Who The F#*k is D.C. United? – Answered

To experience the joys of supporter culture by-proxy OTF contributor Jacob Peters provides us some background on Fire history, rivalries, and some footnotes on how to effectively criticize, troll, and generally enjoy Fire games. Next up, Saturday’s away match-up against D.C. United. As always…

Sing in full voice. Hate with reason.

On Saturday the Chicago Fire and their supporters will descend on the Raccoon breeding ground that is Robert Francis Kennedy Stadium (RFK for short) for potentially the last time. D.C. is has broken ground on their new stadium being built on Buzzards Point (more on why this is such an apt name to be associated with this franchise later), and they have claimed that the stadium will be complete by next season. As an architect, I find that to be a very ambitious schedule, and wouldn’t bet on it being complete for the next Fire away trip (let alone their 2018 home opener).

This away trip will have many layers, building on many years of history between these two clubs that in the early years were two of the best teams in the league.

  • Our 1998 season and our first hardware
    • We beat D.C. United 2-0 at the Rose Bowl, five days before making it a double, in the first of many high profile match-ups between these marquee teams in which we would hold them scoreless.
  • 2003 Conference Semifinal Legs
    • In which we held D.C. scoreless on both legs, winning 4-0 on aggregate as we stormed through the playoffs, only to give up four goals ourselves in the MLS Cup Final.
  • 2005 Conference Semifinal Legs

    • D.C. held us to a scoreless draw in the first leg at Soldier Field, only to blow their own home field advantage in the 4-0 blowout we delivered to them in the second leg at RFK.
  • The 2006 U.S. Open Cup Semifinal
    • Where we sent them home from Toyota Park 3-0 on the back of a Calen Carr brace (We all dreamt of a team of Calen Carrs that night) on our way to our most recent trophy.
  • The 2007 Conference Semifinal Legs
    • We carried our D.C. playoff tournament streak through a 1-0 win in Bridgeview off an early Chris Rolfe goal, and a 2-0 first half at RFK that featured another reason that he’d be getting laid that night. However, the streak would break in the 69th minute and United would pull it level, with our Men in Red clinging to our aggregate advantage.
  • The 2008 U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal
    • With the spell broken, we failed to advance after a 2-1 result when we conceded a goal in extra time at the Maryland Soccerplex. We felt we could at least claim we had never lost to D.C. in regular time of any playoff meeting.
  • The 2013 U.S. Open Cup Semifinal
    • Even that streak broke 5 years later when D.C. sent me home dejected from a 2-0 loss that I viewed from the Harlem End. Yet we can still take solace in knowing that they have never beaten us in a playoff game in the District of Columbia.

 

Burns — A Brief Critique of a Team Whose Badge is Definitely Not a Nazi Eagle: 

You know how we were talking about Buzzards Point earlier? Well, personally, buzzards and roadkill go together in my mind. Which is exactly what comes to mind when I look at the 1st road jersey that DC ever wore against us. That stripe down the left side is supposed to represent the three stripes in the D.C. flag, but instead it comes off as tread marks from a reckless motorist (I can see the buzzards circling already).

 

Not only that, but their newest away jersey that was revealed this year looks like their jerseys got run over again, only this time from one of those huge mining trucks with the 3 foot wide tires. I am a huge fan of the D.C. Municipal flag, but these attempts at reference have fallen as flat as a raccoon that has lost a battle with a Fire engine.

It would also be irresponsible not to mention that D.C. United’s logo is definitely not a Nazi Insignia. It is SO MUCH NOT an Nazi insignia that the team itself changed the DC logo to “modernize” it, but made no reference to which way the eagle’s head faces in the new version because that was definitely not an obvious change that needed to be made.

DCUnited-Logo-Through-History-Not-Nazi

 

Sound of Sirens — Fire Chants to Shout at RFK (or at the screen from somewhere in Chicagoland):

Here are my favorites that will be deployed on this D.C. Trip:

  • The Classic: “Who the F*#k is D.C. United” sung to the Battle Hymn of the Republic
    • “D.C. United went to Rome to see the Pope, Rome to see the Pope, Rome to see the Pope,
      D.C. United went to Rome to see the Pope and this is what he said (F*#k you):
      Who the F*#k is D.C. United, Who the F*#k is D.C. United, Who the F*#k is D.C. United, and the Fire go marching on”
  • The Tribute: “Chris Rolfe is Getting Laid Tonight”:
    • Simply repeating the phrase above. It used to be done whenever he would score a goal for Chicago, but after he has been sadly sidelined by the effects of a concussion that have kept him off the field for more than a year for D.C. This time it will be deployed in tribute to a player that is beloved by fans on both sides of this rivalry.
  • Inside jokes for a Fire fan we haven’t gotten to see all year.
    • Jay Eychaner is the reason that a bunch of us Fire fans of different stripes watch soccer at Go Tavern. He forged a path that we just followed in, and this season hasn’t been the same since he took a job in Richmond. This will be our first opportunity to watch a game with him since his move and we’ll be breaking out those inside jokes that bind fans together during the more trying years (like the last few).

 

Watch Commander — Where to See the Game, and What to Look For:

I personally would love to see us shut D.C. out and leave RFK with 3 points on our possible last trip to its crumbling confines (even if we need to repeat the same feat next year). Look for long time Fire favorite Patrick Nyarko on the wing for D.C. and let’s hope that we can build off of their two consecutive home defeats, including the 4-0 drubbing United just suffered at the hands of the lowly Philadelphia Union.

Here’s where you can go to catch the game if you’re not one of the dozen or so that will be with me to watch the game live in person.

  • North (Lakeview, North Center, Roscoe, Lakeview)
    • Schubas on Belmont/Southport
    • AJ Hudson’s at Grace/Ashland
    • The Globe Pub near the Irving Park Brown Line just east of Damen.
    • The Atlantic Bar on Lincoln/Winnemac (Pub to Pitch Partner)
  • Northwest (Logan Square, Wicker/Bucktown/Ukie)
    • Cleo’s just east of Damen on Chicago (Pub to Pitch Partner)
    • Go Tavern on Armitage just east of Kedzie (Pub to Pitch Partner)
  • City (River North, Loop, South Loop)
    • Fado on Grand/Clark (Pub to Pitch Partner)
    • Galway Arms on Clark/Arlington (Pub to Pitch Partner)
    • Kroll’s on 18th/Michigan (Pub to Pitch Partner)
    • La Birreria on the 2nd floor of Eataly at Ohio/Wabash?
  • The Outer Limits
    • Rock Island Public House in Blue Island, 13328 Old Western Ave
    • Imperial Oak right across from the Willow Springs Metra Stop

If you know of any other bars in or outside of the city that play Fire games, let us know.

Kickoff 3pm CT on UniMas

 

 

Endnote… cheers to DC front office who, somehow, have a sense of humor about this whole raccoon thing…

Can Anyone Stop Nikolic?

2017-05-17 CHI v COL

(Photo courtesy chicago-fire.com)

Chicago Fire striker Nemanja Nikolic continued his torrid form on Wednesday, notching two goals in the Fire’s 3:0 wipeout of the Colorado Rapids at Toyota Park. The victory kept the Fire undefeated at home this season. Overall, the Fire have 18 points from their 11 matches and they are unquestionably on a roll.

And no one has been on a roll more than Nikolic, who is the league’s top goalscorer, with 10 goals. After a few unremarkable performances early in the season, where Nikolic was frequently caught offside, the striker has been almost unstoppable, scoring at least one goal in six of his last seven games. No Fire player in club history has reached the 10-goal mark in fewer games than Nikolic has. Mike Magee had set the previous mark in 2013, scoring 10 times in his first 16 matches.

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“The Smiles Are Back in Bridgeview …”

2017-05-13 CHI v SEA

(Photo courtesy chicago-fire.com)

Those were the words of Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunovic following his team’s 4:1 demolition of the Seattle Sounders at Toyota Park on Saturday. Nemanja Nikolic tallied two goals and an assist, while David Accam notched a goal and an assist. The Fire and Sounders engaged in a back-and-forth scrap in the first half and the Fire exploded for three goals after the break, as Chicago won the game in style.

And it wasn’t just the four-goal outburst that was impressive, it was the manner with which victory was achieved. The overall possession numbers favored Seattle 52%-48%, but the Fire dominated for long stretches in the second half. They moved the ball rapidly from player to player, always seeking the easy, open pass. After the Fire had scored the third and fourth goals of the match in quick succession, they broke the game down into an 11 v 11 keepaway exercise.

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Fire Go Jekyll and Hyde in LA

2017-05-06 LA v CHI

(Photo courtesy of mlssoccer.com)

The Chicago Fire finished off their third consecutive away match with a solidly earned point in a 2:2 draw versus the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday, but no one felt like celebrating. The Fire had roared out to a 2:0 lead in the first half in dominant fashion and seemed poised to bury the Galaxy. They could not complete the job, however, thanks to irresponsible defending during two Galaxy corner kicks in the second half.

The game had an air of craziness surrounding it right from the start. The Fire were up by a pair within 16 minutes, prompting Galaxy coach Curt Onalfo to replace captain and center back Jelle van Damme in the 33rd minute with Dave Romney. Then, midfielder Jermaine Jones was forced to withdraw just before the break due to injury. Los Angeles turned the momentum in their favor in the second half and managed to claw their way back to level things at 2:2. Fire coach Veljko Paunovic made his own curious substitution right after the equalizer, bringing on Michael de Leeuw for David Accam, whose play was responsible for both of the Fire’s goals, and who was a constant threat to the Galaxy backline.

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