OTF Roundtable: Chicago Fire Week 14
Each and every week, OTF’s writers and contributors chime in on the state of the Fire…
Reflections on the draw at RSL? What are your impressions of the Mike Magee acquisition and where do you see him fitting in best? Finally, how big is this Sunday’s game vs. DC United at Toyota Park?
A point is a just point, but the point is that the Fire earned it well. While no draw is stylish, one earned at Rio Tinto never comes easily. It’s something to build on. The Men in Red play well with a reliable center back on the pitch, and it’s a relief to see that the center back doesn’t have to be Arne Friedrich.
Bakary Soumare and Mike Magee are fantastic additions to the big cuddly Fire family for a few reasons. First off, they want to be in Chicago. These two didn’t land here on accident, and that means a lot in a trade-happy league like MLS. Second, the front office is filling spots in Chicago’s roster that allow the rest of the system to work. Eliminating the panic on either end of the pitch is a step towards getting results.
This week, two very large opportunities stand in front of the Fire. The road USOC match this Wednesday and the home league match on Sunday are ones to either build upon or become embarrassed about. It would do Chicago well to put their best foot forward by fielding a top team against the Charlotte Eagles tonight and then worry about DCU later, but the Fire aren’t at fault if they don’t.
United is a must win, and Chicago finally has the boys for the job. If heads are on straight and business gets done, it could be a very productive week for the Men in Red.
Saturday’s game in Salt Lake was inspiring. Taking on a team in a strong playoff position in the Western Conference and bringing a point back to Chicago gives us a glimmer of hope – something we haven’t had nearly enough of this year.
The fact that Quincy Amarikwa scored off of a flying, sideways kick wasn’t the most surprising part of the night – the Fire refusing roll over and die after giving up a goal was. Unlike most games this year, Chicago showed up for all 90 minutes.
Though let it be known: Sean Johnson earned us the draw. One goal wouldn’t have been enough to take a point home if the Fire didn’t have a miracle worker between the pipes to keep them in it.
That brings me to Mike Magee. He’s on track to play his best season at the professional level. Combine that with the fact that he is actually happy to be with the Fire, and I think Chicago will eventually have a very dangerous attack. Whether he ends up underneath Chris Rolfe or up top, it’s the opportunistic moments we saw plenty of last Saturday that players like Magee live for.
The Fire have been creating chances without finishing any of them. DC United is about as downtrodden as an MLS team can be, but that might make them more dangerous. If the Fire keeps creating chances, and someone (Magee, Rolfe, Nyarko, MacDonald, Duka, Amarikwa, ANYONE) can finish them, the midseason turn around we’ve all been praying for may just happen.
What a difference a familiar face at the back can make. Bakary Soumare’s veteran awareness and composure made a huge difference with what already looks to be a stronger defensive line.
The defense, mainly Baky, practically won every aerial battle. Sure, there are always things that can improve, but Soumare just arrived and Anibaba is now playing at his more natural right back position. A little more familiarity with each other, and the current back four will be a real fortress.
The Fire gave up a goal, but they didn’t quit. They showed something that has been lacking recently: PRIDE. Frank Klopas made some key subs and it paid off in a big way. With two new players in the locker room, Chicago must feel as if the tide has turned.
And at last! Chicago’s very own Mike Magee has given the Fire Faithful a new chant to belch. I give the front office a lot of credit for handling the Rogers-Magee trade calmly and without controversy.
I see Magee up top, in front of either Rolfe or Alex. He knows what to do with the ball once he’s near the box, and has proven to be a real poacher during his time in LA. Having Patrick Nyarko lead the attack was creative and interesting for a while, but I think he’s better suited on the wing, tiring out defenders and pushing the ball to the touch line.
Because they find themselves ten points off the last playoff spot, every league game will feel like a must-win for Chicago, but DC at home this Sunday feels even more important. The Fire must prove to its home crowd that it is not a bottom-dwelling team. Hopefully, with Soumare and Magee in the line-up, DC will be the first MLS squad to feel the wrath of a reignited Fire.
Some goal-saving heroics from Sean Johnson kept the Chicago Fire in the game against Real Salt Lake, and the acrobatic finish from Amarikwa ensured two points were split. Both players were honored as candidates for MLS Save of the Week and MLS Goal of the Week, respectively.
Bakary Soumare fit in nicely as a central defender, which allowed Jalil Anibaba to bring some relief to the troubled right back spot that has plagued the Fire all season. The defensive unit was more cohesive in this match against a solid RSL team. However, the same offensive troubles are ailing the team, and the Fire was not creative enough to threaten RSL. The Fire goal was manufactured from a goal-poacher’s instinct, not from design.
This leads us to the biggest news of the week: Mike Magee has joined the Chicago Fire. He should help improve the offense, as he’s a striker with good instincts (read: fox in the box) that the Fire needs to improve its feeble offense. Chris Rolfe and Magee play similar roles, and it will be interesting to see how Frank Klopas will adjust his front line tactics to allow Magee to start.
I would like to see MacDonald and Magee get the nod this Sunday in the crucial DC United match. Be warned: with a home loss, some serious implications will arise (i.e., heads should roll). MacDonald is running out of time to prove that he should remain with the Fire. A new striking partner for the Dutchman could perhaps generate some productive chemistry, or finally put an end to the MacDonald chapter.