OTF Roundtable: Chicago Fire Week 29
Each and every Wednesday, OTF contributors chime in on our Men in Red…
As the Fire continue to turn wins into draws and draws into losses, the pattern of how the squad slips up cannot be more frustrating. The problems are clear to even recreational followers of the game, and the Chicago faithful have yet to see their team implement a successful solution to their repetitive problems. (Hint: It’s not a talent gap).
Possessionless footy is fine if a team efficiently converts their scoring chances, remains composed in the defensive third, and executes set pieces at both ends. Unfortunately, the Men in Red do none of these things well.
It’s clear that “packing it in” is not going to do it against teams that can add late firepower against a ragged back four. Instead, the Fire must match their opponents’ offensive aggression and put fresh legs higher up the pitch to disrupt and dispossess them. The Men in Red, clearly, need insurance goals in the back of the net before they can successfully “park the bus”.
So why the hesitation? Why not Amarikwa for Rolfe instead of Paladini? Why not a diamond midfield instead of a double-pivot where one of the pivots is redundant? Playing careful soccer for the rest of the season will not assure the Fire a playoff spot. Quite the opposite. They’re playing like they’ve got something to lose, and they absolutely don’t — except maybe their jobs.
Baky Soumare is a brawler. I like that he is a brawler and as a center back you need to be able to dish out some pain. However, Baky did cross the line when his emotions got the best of him after last Saturday’s last-minute loss in Seattle. It was a poor decision to troll the Fire’s Jeff Crandall after the beat writer criticized Soumare’s blatant handball that rewarded with a penalty kick to the Sounders and was ultimately saved by Sean Johnson. Crandall’s not even in the realm of a personal attack, but Soumare, offended in the “moment” after the match and retaliated with a tweet that basically said F#$% off you muppet. Outrageous as Soumare’s actions may be, get over it Fire fans because there are more important targets in sight.
Was it a lack of professionalism on Soumare’s part? Yes. That type of response from a player should be made behind closed doors. It was a poor judgment by Baky to misinterpret and respond to Crandall’s criticism publicly, but should Baky be punished by the MLS and/or the Chicago Fire? No. Instead, perhaps an anger management class should be in Baky’s future. Apparently, Soumare and Crandall met behind closed doors and worked out their differences, which leaves me to ask: Will Baky be the next guest on the “All In” podcast?
What would I have done differently in Seattle this past Saturday night? Sadly, other than taking away Soumare’s iPhone after the game, my initial thought is, “not much”.
When the other team is better and you are on the road, you park the bus in front of the goal and rely in your world-class goalkeeper. For over 80 minutes, they did just that. Then they decided to give up a shitty own goal and thus flushed away the bonus point that I never expected them to get to begin with.
I could go into a lot of detail about Frank’s shitty tactical subs and so on, but at this point, I’ve beaten that dead horse so bad that Barbaro has become Elmer’s.
As for Bakary Soumare, I would love to go on a long rant about how disrespectful he was to Jeff Crandall and that he should be fined and suspended, but I can sum it all up in a simple sentence: Jeff is better at his job than Bakary.
Therefore, who gives a shit what Bakary has to say on the subject? Jeff was right. The handball was pathetic (Jeff’s assessment was kinder) and even the morons at PRO couldn’t screw that up.
As for the post-incident spin, did anyone REALLY think the Fire would handle things any different? Of course they would say Jeff and Bakary kissed and made up and all was happy. Then again, the Fire’s senior communications director, the great Dan Lobring, appears to have learned everything he knows about PR and soccer from PR and Soccer For Dummies.
This season has led me to the following conclusion: Whatever compromising photos Frank has of Andrew Hauptman are the same ones Dan Lobring has. How else could they stay in their current positions yet be in so far over their respective heads?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to get in on the conversation and make your voice heard! Cheers.