OTF Roundtable: Chicago Fire Week 27
Each and every Wednesday, OTF contributors chime in on the ups and downs of our Chicago Fire…
The Jekyll and Hyde nature of Chicago Fire continues. Sure, the Fire beat SKC 1-0 last weekend. But its opponent looked tired and was missing two of its biggest offensive weapons in Bieler and Kamara. If we are to take solace in this 1-0 win, how much should we take?
Looking ahead to Sunday, where do you expect to see Chicago Fire on the Eastern Conference table that evening and why?
I rarely admit when I am wrong because well, I am never wrong, but Rios was phenomenal against KC. He and Larentowicz completely bossed the midfield, and provided the strength that the Fire has lacked all year long. Despite a “strange” goal, the Fire was rarely threatening, and lacked a creative dynamic. So, being the pessimist that I am, as good as the three points were, the Fire has much work to do. After getting demolished 5-0 by Montreal, Houston is vulnerable and in poor form so the Fire must be ready to take advantage of that fact. Being at home doesn’t hurt either. A win would put the Fire in sixth place, and pending the New England result, could put the Men in Red level for fifth, but likely behind the Revs due to the second tiebreaker (goals for).
The storm that is Mike Magee has cooled, but that is not to say he isn’t performing. If Magee can bag an early goal and regain his confidence, the Fire stands a chance at making the playoffs. I could be proven wrong again (twice in one week, wow!) and the Fire could rekindle its midseason form, as the latter part of the schedule is in their favor, though the next match in Seattle proves a tough ask with the addition of Clint Dempsey and Chicago’s constant failures on turf. Though KC was labored and lacked two of their top players, the win could be the boost that the Fire need, though a loss against Houston could theoretically end their season.
Luckily, Dr. Jekyll, not Mr. Hyde, showed up at Toyota Park on Friday night with a signature Fire win over (then) league-leading Sporting Kansas City. The Fire did catch some breaks, with SKC’s main offensive weapons Claudio Bieler and Kai Kamara not in the lineup. However, the same could have been easily stated for the New England Revolution when they got their win last week without Patrick Nyarko and Chris Rolfe in the lineup.
The lone goal, registered by Hunter Jumper, was a momentary lapse of reason. In the end though, the young center back headed a shin-high ball into the net for the win. In most circumstances, I would have expected a shoe lace tattoo on his cheek along with a broken jaw, but Jumper’s bravery was the difference-maker in this match.
That’s not to say the Fire did not have other opportunities to finish off a physical SKC team. Chris Rolfe missed a one versus one with Jimmy Nielsen. Then, Juan Luis Anangono had a spectacular volley, but the Pink Panther was able to get his fingertips on the blast and deflect it onto the woodwork.
The Fire, time and again, finds a way to keep staying alive to possibly earn a playoff spot. Arguably, the hottest team in the MLS will have to defeat rivals Houston Dynamo at Toyota Park if it wants to keep its post-season dream alive. I can’t wait ’til Sunday!
After Week 26, I fully expected the Men in Red to still be sitting on 31 points. After all, this was the same team that looked like a U-12 rec team the last time Sporting KC came to town. However, after a brave goal by Jumper and a truly dominating performance from Rios, the Fire are now on 34 points. That was 3 points I never expected them to get in their quest for 22 and the playoffs.
After that gutsy performance, this week looks to be the one where the Fire can become serious playoff contenders. For starters, Houston has a mid-week CCL match and should show the same fatigue that SKC showed last Friday. Speaking of SKC, they too have a CCL mid-week, followed by a tough matchup this weekend vs. the Rapids. Things are lining up for the Fire to pick up 3 more points, leapfrog Houston, and possibly be within a point of Philadelphia. Sorry, there is no way the Revs are giving up points to Toronto.
Looks like it’s time to jump back on the bandwagon and follow the Fire on their playoff push…
Nah, who am I kidding? Frank is back and will be overmatched. He’ll forget he can actually make tactical changes during the game and the Fire will still be on 34 points, resulting in Scott and Brian going back to planning their off-season content for OTF Radio.
If you’re a die-hard Chicago Fire fan who’d like to take part in the OTF Roundtable, please send Scott Fenwick an email at email@example.com to find out how to get in on the conversation and make your voice heard! Cheers.