Reality Bites Fire the Hard Way

2017-04-21 TFC v CHI

(Photo courtesy Associated Press)

The good feelings from the Chicago Fire’s three-game unbeaten streak faded quickly in the aftermath of their 3:1 defeat to Toronto FC on Friday at BMO Field. The home side had displayed rather indifferent form at BMO so far this season, so they definitely came out ready to play on Friday. The Fire won the possession battle 55% to 45%, but it felt as though they spent much of the contest in chase mode. The Fire now have eleven points from their seven matches and find themselves entrenched in a crowded Eastern Conference table.

The Fire were also on the wrong side of some poor refereeing from veteran arbiter Silviu Petrescu, who missed a shove by Jozy Altidore on goalkeeper Jorge Bava in the run-up to Toronto’s first goal. Then, in the second half, a Justin Morrow handball was adjudged to have occurred outside the penalty area, but the replay showed that Morrow was entirely inside the box when he handled the ball. In MLS, the margins between many teams are very thin. With points on the road so hard to come by, such fundamental errors can be game-changers.

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David Accam Chicago Fire scores goal against Columbus Crew in March 2017

Fire and Crew Share the Points in Opening Game Tug-of-War

Both the Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew come into 2017 looking to turn a page and forget about their respective dismal 2016 campaigns. They squared off on Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium in the season opener on a chilly afternoon and battled to a 1:1 draw. Based on the soccer on display it’s unlikely that either side learned much about whether 2017 will bring more joy than 2016 did, but both teams have a lot of work ahead if they want to be competitive. The Crew controlled play in the first half, while the Fire were the better team in the second. Given the sparse number of shots that found the target the 1:1 result can be considered a fair one.

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Women in Soccer, Chicago Fire ‘Keeper Debate and “Puto”

National Women’s Day

Since today is International Women’s Day, I thought I’d use this edition of my semi-weekly Musing column to write about gender equality among soccer fans and players.  Did you know that FC Dallas has female capos?  I did not know this until I read this great piece in What a Howler written by Gaby Kirschner.  Gaby’s piece, linked below, identifies some of the following negative and positive points. Continue reading

Fire Slay Another Giant. Are There Enough Games Left?

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(photo courtesy chicago-fire.com)

The Chicago Fire’s 2:0 blanking of FC Dallas on Sunday was truly a breath of fresh air. For once, the Fire’s backline looked like a disciplined, coordinated group, unlike the amateurish vagabonds that allowed two very sloppy goals to New England on July 25. Whether this turnabout was due to the return of Jeff Larentowicz, the benching of Adailton, the return of Matt Polster to his rightful place in midfield, or some combination of the three is great fodder for discussion. Regardless of how the Fire did it, they got the job done, and these three points are crucial in determining whether a playoff spot is even feasible. With 13 matches left and 39 points on offer, the Fire really need to take the positives from this performance and make sure that they are part of the game plan every week.

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Fire Defense Leads to Latest Letdown

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Photo courtesy chicago-fire.com

Much of the pre-game hype leading up to the Fire’s tilt with the New England Revolution last Saturday centered on Drogba Watch, as fans waited to see whether an aging striker still has enough magic left to provide some hope for a season that was quickly sinking into oblivion. Discussion regarding Didier Drogba’s effectiveness was the perfect fodder for debate while having a pre-game beer. That discussion, unfortunately, missed the point about what ails this Fire team far more acutely than adding more firepower up top, and that is the atrocious level of defending. Amateurish mistakes were on full display at Toyota Park on Saturday, as the Fire and Revs shared the spoils in a 2:2 draw.

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Mended and Melded: How the Fire Sabbatical Shapes the Rest of their MLS Season

Mike Magee's Day Off

(From the film “Mike Magee’s Day Off”)

Brian Howe Battle dusts off the ol’ keyboard after the Fire returned to the field last Friday after two weeks off and tallied 3 points.

The time between the Chicago Fire’s win against New York City FC last week and their previous win against Toronto FC seems like a lifetime. Despite the Full-Team Sabbatical, things are looking pretty good.

When the Fire agreed to reschedule their game against the Montreal Impact #CF97 fans were outraged. Of course, the default Twitter emotion is outrage, so that’s not really a big deal.  What this shift did afford the Fire was what they needed more than any other MLS team — time to mend and meld.

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Monday Musings, Episode III – Revenge of the Greek

Here is my third installment of “Monday Musings.”  As always, it’s a mix of insight, analysis and fluff.

Part I – Fired Up Friday

First off, after some notable snipping on Twitter among Fire fans, it’s a relief to see everyone happy after the Fire got its third victory of the season on a cold and blustery Friday night.  While not quite a sell out in terms actual attendance, the crowd was very loud, and truly into this match.  It has been a long time since we’ve had this type of atmosphere at Toyota Park.  Section 8 was very active and there was even stereo effect between Section 8 and Sector Latino during goal kicks.  You all know the irksome chant.  Someone did their best to translate it when Montreal’s Evan Bush was subjected to this “friendly greeting.”

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