Dispatch: Chicago Fire (1) vs. Philadelphia Union (1)
After the latest Fire “result,” OTF’s Alex White wonders if there is any meaning to be found…
Another match drawn. Another lead lost. There is more to be said on that front, so watch this space for an analysis to come.
My thoughts on the Chicago Fire are primarily non-tactical, and the first one each time they drop another match or another pair of points is that… it’s always something, isn’t it? And rarely the same something.
There are lessons learned in one match lost in another, a brain freeze that comes at the worst time, a bad refereeing call, or just plain bad luck. Some thought this could be a season where some fans might ask what might have been, but I came into it with thoughts of a rebuilding, refinancing year—and therefore one with lower expectations.
So it’s saying something to say that I’m disappointed even by those standards, and let down in a worse way. It would be one thing to just get stomped week in and week out. Getting thumped has a way of removing doubt from the equation; you have to take your lumps and move on. What the Fire have been doing, in losing by fine margins from winning positions, is so much more agonizing.
It reminds me of one of those great moments in the soccer punditry of most games, when the commentators wax lyrically about whether a team deserves to win or deserves their result. It’s a bit of critical analysis that rarely happens in other American sports, that leaves open the chance that we could work hard and deserve to succeed and unfairly fail. Or: that plain, simple bad judge or a referee’s bad judgment could steal away what a team may rightly claim as theirs. Above all, if anyone begins to defend a losing effort as perhaps the better, they are inevitably drowned out with chants of, “Scoreboard!”
But this line of questioning promotes the complexity, ambiguity, or even duality that’s so present in all aspects of life save the zero-sum game of draw-less sports. So, did the Fire deserve to win?
Maybe, but maybe not. Neither side created a lot of chances, but the boys in red pulled off a nice header (after a try or two), and they had the lead, dagnabbit, so surely they choked it away by not holding it. Right?
There’s no easy answer, and, frankly, I am little inclined to search for one. With so, so many draws this season, I have begun to approach Fire matches with a sense of nihilism and repression that requires a strong alarm clock and a Clockwork Orange device to overcome. Why get all worked up, when it is only a matter of time before the lead is lost? Who cares if a lead is lost in a season where the playoffs offer only the prospect of more agony? To be or not to be?
Oh, but there’s the more traditional spin: that these bad breaks have a tendency to even out (sometimes even within the same match); that, after all, the Fire continue to build their unbeaten streak; that the crowds continue to grow and that beers taste so much better when they only cost $2…
Still, I look to Bridgeview with foreboding, and morbid curiosity. Could the Men in Red turn things around if things start to break good? If the Fire continue to drop points without repeating the same mistakes twice, how long before they run out of plausible ones and turn to slapstick and shark-jumping? And if the team’s form doesn’t improve, how long will my question mark key hold up? These questions, and many more, loom. Stay tuned, and stay strong, Fire faithful.
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