OTF Roundtable: Chicago Fire Week Eight

(photo: chicagotribune.com)

Hands on hips. Frowns. Fire de rigueur? (photo: chicagotribune.com)

Your weekly gut check on the state of the Fire from OTF’s writers and contributors

After the result  in Houston, talk about Frank Klopas’s lineup, tactics, and substitutions. Would you have done anything differently? Why or why not?
How big is the Columbus match at home this Saturday?

Emanuel Corpus

The loss in Houston was no shocker. An unbeaten streak of 35 matches at home doesn’t happen easily, and the Dynamo were desperate to shake off their flop against the Timbers. It was a match where a Fire win would’ve been ideal, but was not demanded.

The real confusion came with Klopas’s continued faith in MacDonald over Santos, along with his decision to pull Paladini off the pitch before he even had time to cool down from his yellow card. These choices seem to suggest there was some sort of game plan that, due to either its lack of creativity or efficacy, never came to fruition.

Sitting on only four points after playing six matches certainly hurts, but the Men in Red have a prime opportunity to fight for and earn three points against Columbus on Saturday in a regional battle at home. Unfortunately however, it appears that Arne Friedrich will not play. It’s a shame, because his experience and calming influence on the pitch would increase Chicago’s chances to win against the Crew’s direct style of attack.

It’s too early in the season to deem any matches as must-win games, but without a win at Toyota Park this weekend, the Fire’s time at Montreal on the 27th will only be more daunting.

Lucas Hammer

I was excited about the lineup on Sunday, with the possible exceptions of Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald. I would’ve rather seen Santos up top, but in retrospect, I’m not sure how much of a difference that would’ve made.

The substitution to take Daniel Paladini out was a bad idea however. His aggressiveness on the field is something the Fire have been missing most of this year, and I feel like it was missing again for the final third of the match.

Sunday’s was a tough result against a team that is now holding the record for the longest unbeaten-at-home streak, so it’s hard to say the Fire should’ve won. But a draw would’ve been deserved if not for the disastrous cross-turned-shot from Brad Davis that somehow sailed past countless players and a dumbfounded Sean Johnson.

It’s hard to say the team didn’t perform, because the evidence shows otherwise. The lapses will hopefully cease once Arne Friedrich returns to command the back line, but based on recent reports, that probably won’t be against Columbus.

Saturday’s game really can’t result in a loss. A draw would be acceptable against a Columbus team that has done well so far – especially since Chicago will face Dominic Oduro, who has performed very well – but a win would put more fans in the seats, which is something the Fire are struggling with this year.

Chicago gets better with each game, but I’m not sure it’s enough. 

Mark Rogers

If you’ve ever wondered how much of an effect poor coaching has on the outcome of a game, this past weekend’s loss to Houston is a good one to cite.

When I saw the lineups, I immediately knew it was going to be a long night. I appreciate that Klopas likely looked at this lineup as getting his best players on the field, but playing five midfielders who have no desire to get wide is just crazy. Paladini’s heat map shows him essentially abandoning the right flank, and Lindpere’s doesn’t look a whole better on the left.

The Fire simply never had a chance with this lineup.

As one would expect, there were a lot of attempts to drive down the Dynamo’s throat, with the occasional dash down the left flank thanks to Segares and Lindpere. Chicago is just too predictable each week. Even their substitutions feel scripted. Why not give Bone a shot, or give Duka the start to get some width?

On the defensive end, did anybody tell Wells Thompson about this Brad Davis guy? Even passive MLS fans know that Davis has the most deadly left foot in the game. I just don’t understand how Thompson was burned so bad by Davis faking right, and then going left. Why stick Thompson, a midfielder, with the most important defensive responsibility? This would have been a great time to try Jumper on the right, or put Pause back there.

On the upside (downside?), my predictions are correct so far…

Juan Santoliva

I had never doubted Mr. Frank Klopas before, but after watching Sunday’s loss to Houston, I realized the gaffer may not have a clue on how to manage this Fire team.

First, I wasn’t sure who would start between Maicon Santos and Sherjil MacDonald. Going with Mackie, a DP who has yet to score a goal, was the wrong choice. Why not go with Santos, a player who just scored two goals in a late cameo the weekend before?

Although Chris Rolfe had a decent game in Houston, his recent past performances are not good enough to merit a starting spot. Klopas has to stop playing favorites and go with players who are able to produce consistently.

Next, there’s the early substitution of Daniel Paladini. Paladini has been Chicago’s best player this season, yet Klopas is more worried about him getting a second yellow card rather than playing to win? I don’t see any reason to take him out against such a dangerous team.

Lastly, this whole idea of “let’s get ‘em on the counter-attack” must stop. It’s Chicago’s only go-to plan, and opponents have it figured out. The Men in Red must go back to the basics: trapping, passing, and dribbling the ball. When was the last time you saw a Chicago player take on an opposing defender outside of the penalty area with a direct, one-on-one dribble?

The Columbus game is a huge make-or-break match. If the Fire lose at home to their hated rival, expect many Chicago fans to give up on the Fire for the time being.


Want a seat at the OTF Roundtable? Send Scott an email at manonthefire97@gmail.com and he’ll tell you how to join our weekly conversation on the state of the Fire.

4 thoughts on “OTF Roundtable: Chicago Fire Week Eight

  1. Nice input and good points all the way around. I particularly agree with Juan. I can’t speak with authority as I have only seen clips of this match. But the more video I watch the more frustrated I get with this tendency not to attack or challenge the defenders one on one.

    Unfortunately, it’s the sign of a weak team or a team that lacks confidence and/or a killer instinct. Either way it’s a bad tendency and needs to addressed.

    • Agreed. I’m fine with the occasional counter-attack, but we need to go at players more to restore some confidence. Without that, we might as well take the Cubs philosophy and “wait ’till next year.”

  2. Great roundtable. All this Santos/Rolfe/Mackie talk reminds me of the old football adage: “If you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback.”

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