@Jvlaha’s Monday Musings – Episode II

Here’s my latest “Monday Musings” contribution on various topics:  a weekend without the Fire; #scrimmagegate; fitness; Aston Villa vs. Liverpool; Wrigley Field and “Tweets of the Week.”

Part 1, What’s a Fire Fan to Do Without a Fire Game?

With the Fire not playing this weekend, what’s a Fire fan to do?  Many Fire fans made the trip to Lisle see the Chicago Red Stars play.

This upset one person in particular:

But led to snickers and a thank you to Fire fans:

If you want a game recap, check out this excellent piece by OTF’s Lucas Hammer, who happens to have the second coolest name of the writers on OTF.  http://otfsoccer.com/2015/04/19/dispatch-chicago-red-stars-3-vs-seattle-reign-fc-2/

Hands down, Brian Battle wins with his use of the double B and an epic sounding name.  If Lucas and Brian had a love child, I would think it would be called “Battle Hammer.”  Of course, Hope Solo was true to form, but you’ll have to read Luca’s piece and the comment section to know what I’m talking about.

The Red Stars and the Fire will team up for a double header on May 9th with the Fire playing at 2 pm. and the Red Stars at 4 pm.


Part 2, #Scrimmagegate – To Have a Fit or Not Be Fit.

“If a team plays a scrimmage in a stadium and no one is around to watch it, does it make a sound?” The answer to this philosophical question is open to considerable debate, but Twitter was ablaze with debate over the closed door “scrimmage”:

One fan (I mean raccoon) felt like “he” was being left in the dark by the FO:

And there was this clever exchange with Atul Khosal:

In the end, “logistically” speaking, it was not possible to simply unlock the doors to Toyota Park to accommodate fans, despite the best efforts of one fan:

In the end, the scrimmage was more of a training session so the fans didn’t miss much:

As noted above, everyone has an opinion regarding whether it was good for the TEAM (not the fans) to be off for so long without a game.  I’m of the opinion that time off will help the team “gel” and work on fitness.  Earlier today, Coach Yallop mentioned fitness during his weekly press call.

Part 3, Fitness; How to Avoid a Dreadful “15-15-15.”

In case you missed it, Adrian Lamb is the Fire’s new strength and conditioning coach, and if I were a betting man, I think we’re going to have one of the fittest teams in the league in the near future.  Here’s a piece on Adrian when he was with Aston Villa; notably Villa outplayed Liverpool on Sunday as I discuss below.  http://www.avfc.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0,,10265~2420407,00.html

Fitness is a key component to the long MLS season and semi-arduous travel schedules during weeks filed with weekday and weekend games.  We’ve all see certain players look rather gassed at certain points in matches, and we’ve also seen (more so in the past), that tired legs lead to defensive lapses in the final 15 minutes of games.  And it’s not just the Fire.  The US Men’s National Team conceded 15 goals in the last 15 minutes of the last 15 games.  Think about that stunning stat for a second.  No wonder Klinsi gets all worked up about fitness.

From a motivational standpoint, I’m also confident that Assistant Coach Marc Bircham has whipped the team into shape during the team’s down time.  Who wouldn’t be motivated by Marc with the gems contained in this brief clip.  http://www.chicago-fire.com/video/2015/04/13/marc-bircham-micd  I wonder if there’s footage that was not postable on the internet?

Packing a one-two punch, Bircham and Lamb may very well transform this team to perform better on the pitch.  Here’s a summary about their backgrounds from the Fire’s website.  http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2015/02/chicago-fire-announce-two-additions-technical-staff

If the Fire wins the next couple games, will the Twitterati call it luck? Will the coaches and the FO get some credit for “taking one for the team” when they were asked to move the Montreal and Revolution games?  Stay tuned.  Either way, it’s going to be an epic match on Friday, with a capacity crowd.

Word to the wise, buy your tickets now, unless the Empire Strikes Back (again):

Part 4, Aston Villa Move on to the FA Cup Final – Woe is Stevie.

Sunday’s FA Cup Semi-Final between was an epic battle between to underachieving teams.  It was a tough match for me, as I support both teams.  Historically I’m a Liverpool fan, but I started following Aston Villa because of local boy wonder Brad Guzan and the wonderful supporters and a former Villa player that I played against during our “friendly match” on July 21, 2012.



I’ve always admired Steven Gerrard, but I think the past 12 months have not been kind to him.  I hope he returns back to his former self when he plays for LA later this year, but I believe that he’s going to have a difficult time dealing with the LA heat and MLS travel schedule after playing  a full EPL season.

Liverpool was outplayed by Aston Villa, despite having almost equal possession and Liverpool having more shots on goal.  Horrid defending on Aston Villa’s first goal was representative of Liverpool’s season.  Despite his many years with Liverpool, Gerrard has not received his fair share of victory.

If the “Soccer Gods” within MLS get their way (again), it would be an exciting start for the MLS phase of his career to help turn around LA’s season, and hoist (sigh) another MLS Cup.

Of course, a better story would involve the Chicago Fire winning the MLS Cup with goals from Maloney and Accam, goals that were first forged on during a blustery midday scrimmage in an empty Toyota Park.

Part 5, How to Chug a Baseball – Thoughts on Wrigley Field

With the Fire not playing this weekend, what’s a Fire fan to do?  Many fans made the trip to Lisle see the Chicago Red Stars play.  If you want a game recap, check out this excellent piece by OTF’s Lucas Hammer, who happens to have the second coolest name of the writers on OTF.


Hands down, Brian Battle wins with his use of the double B and an epic sounding name.  If Lucas and Brian had a love child, I would think it would be called “Battle Hammer.

Without anything to do other than coach AYSO soccer on Saturday and play Sunday league soccer at the crack of dawn, I decided to feed my soccer starved mind with a trip to Wrigley Field.  It seemed like ages, since I’ve been there, and the place is still a dump.  I was a season ticket holder when I used to live in the City, having dropped the tickets after too many dismal seasons.  I witnessed the horrific “Bartman game”, watching the drama unfold from a good vantage point in the upper deck.  I gave up on the Cubs, long ago and I don’t own a “Cubs Til I Die” mug.  That’s because I can’t imagine a scenario where the Cubs win a World Series.  In contrast, the relative “parity” offered by MLS gives almost every team a reasonable shot at winning the MLS Cup. So yes, I’m going out on a short limb and declaring that the Fire will win the MLS Cup before the Cubs win the World Series.

A few reflections on my Wrigley experience.  Fire fans have pushed hard for a “First in, Last Out” campaign at Toyota Park to help support the team.  That doesn’t always work out, as I’m often stuffing my car with tailgating materials and racing to the gates in time for the National Anthem.  And for others in the Section 8 tailgating area I understand that micro/craft beers must be shared before entering Toyota Park.  All the cheering can make you thirsty.

In contrast, Wrigley has never never had a “First in, Last Out” campaign.  I arrived late due to traffic and I was amazed by the amount of inebriated people milling around outside the stadium, looking as if they were not worried in the least that they were missing part of the game.  And then it dawned on me, Wrigley is “World’s Largest Outdoor Bar.”

Having said that, I was reminded of what a “snooze fest” a baseball game can be.  There’s not much to cheer about until someone actually hits a ball and someone makes a semi-dramatic catch or a double play.   I’m a soccer snob and the constant flow of the game and the roar of the fans is what gets me excited.  A good example of this was how well the Aston Villa match was mid’d up.  You could almost feel the roar of the crowd after each goal.

Of course, Wrigley does have a certain level of charm, for where else will you find a fan who catches a foul ball in her beer cup and then proceeds to chug the beer.

Ironically, this woman was sitting a few seats away from my former season tickets.  Someone needs to find this woman and buy her a ticket to a Fire game.  I will buy her beer, including a pre and post-game beer in the Season Ticket Holder Lot.  Find her!

Her epic “catch n’ chug” would not happen as Toyota Park based upon this simple non-mathematical/physical equation:  when a large ball meets a beer, beer will always lose, as this clip from a rugby match shows.


For the fans who were actually paying attention, the Cubs won the game in the 11th inning.

Part 6, Tweets of the Week

It’s only Monday, but this tweet from a Columbus Crew fan punking Toronto is noteworthy.

And finally, David Beckham shows up his son Brooklyn in this smack down moment over Twitter followers.

Until next week…..

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