Unbeaten Run Reaches an Incredible 9 Matches

2017-06-24 CHI v ORL

(Photo courtesy chicago-fire.com)

It was a night of visceral dominance on Saturday at Toyota Park by a Chicago Fire side that came out hungry and did not stop until visiting Orlando City SC had been beaten to a pulp. No Fire player was more dominant than winger David Accam, who scored three times, to go along with an assist in a 4:0 rout. The Fire have reached the halfway point of the season with 34 points, trailing Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC, who are on 35 points.

Orlando dealt with significant problems coming into this match. Leading scorer Cyle Larin was sidelined by the league following a DUI situation and the Lions had made the long trek from Seattle after their match on Wednesday. Although all teams have to deal with these  scheduling nightmares, their impact is unmistakable; teams  who cross two or more time zones after having played a midweek game almost always struggle in that second game. That Orlando played both games away in a span of four days only made things worse for a team that had amassed just five points in their previous seven away matches.

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Fire Hang On For Massive Road Win

2017-06-20 NE v CHI

(Photo courtesy chicago-fire.com)

There are times in a soccer match when scoring a goal can destroy the motivation for an opponent to mount a comeback. The New England Revolution were that team on Saturday shortly after Luis Solignac put the visiting Fire 2:0 up in the 61st minute. It was the kind of authoritative strike that resulted in the Revs looking like they were ready to pack it in. Good thing for them that they didn’t succumb completely, because Matt Lampson’s failure to punch a ball clear led to Antonio Delamea’s response nine minutes later, and a game that was surely in the bag became competitive once again. The Fire managed to close out for a 2:1 win, but there were more than a few heart palpitations along the way.

New England created enough opportunities to get something out of this game, but the shockingly poor quality of their finishing right in front of goal was their undoing. Despite outshooting the Fire by a gaudy 24-8 margin, the shots on target were far more even (5-4 in favor of New England). They might easily have scored four, with a bit of luck. Instead, they spent the 90 minutes chasing the game, because of what the Fire did to build that two-goal lead.

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Nine-Man Orlando Keep Fire in Check

2017-06-04 ORL v CHI

(Photo courtesy chicago-fire.com)

The Chicago Fire had a superb opportunity to grab three very valuable away points on Sunday night, but failed to find a way to break down a closely packed Orlando City defense and had to settle for a share of the spoils after a 0:0 draw. The home side went down to ten men when Rafael Ramos was sent off in the 26th minute after a clash with Brandon Vincent. Things only got worse for Orlando in the 66th minute, when Antonio Nocerino cleated Matt Polster in the thigh, and was sent to an early shower. The Fire had no answers, however, as Orlando very effectively circled the wagons. The draw allowed the Fire to maintain their hold on second place in the East, with 25 points from 14 matches.

In addition to being a good test against a team who had amassed 19 points from their first eight matches at home, the Fire could also get a look at how their team would perform without Dax McCarty, who had been called in to the US National Team last week. McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger are the players who have fueled the Fire’s resurgent form this season. Coach Veljko Paunovic inserted new right back Polster back to his old position at holding midfielder to replace McCarty. The other new right back, Drew Conner, got the call to start for the first time in four games. Paunovic’s other option at holding midfield would have been Juninho, but he was away from the team for family reasons.

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Engine Company: Who The F#*k is D.C. United? – Answered

To experience the joys of supporter culture by-proxy OTF contributor Jacob Peters provides us some background on Fire history, rivalries, and some footnotes on how to effectively criticize, troll, and generally enjoy Fire games. Next up, Saturday’s away match-up against D.C. United. As always…

Sing in full voice. Hate with reason.

On Saturday the Chicago Fire and their supporters will descend on the Raccoon breeding ground that is Robert Francis Kennedy Stadium (RFK for short) for potentially the last time. D.C. is has broken ground on their new stadium being built on Buzzards Point (more on why this is such an apt name to be associated with this franchise later), and they have claimed that the stadium will be complete by next season. As an architect, I find that to be a very ambitious schedule, and wouldn’t bet on it being complete for the next Fire away trip (let alone their 2018 home opener).

This away trip will have many layers, building on many years of history between these two clubs that in the early years were two of the best teams in the league.

  • Our 1998 season and our first hardware
    • We beat D.C. United 2-0 at the Rose Bowl, five days before making it a double, in the first of many high profile match-ups between these marquee teams in which we would hold them scoreless.
  • 2003 Conference Semifinal Legs
    • In which we held D.C. scoreless on both legs, winning 4-0 on aggregate as we stormed through the playoffs, only to give up four goals ourselves in the MLS Cup Final.
  • 2005 Conference Semifinal Legs

    • D.C. held us to a scoreless draw in the first leg at Soldier Field, only to blow their own home field advantage in the 4-0 blowout we delivered to them in the second leg at RFK.
  • The 2006 U.S. Open Cup Semifinal
    • Where we sent them home from Toyota Park 3-0 on the back of a Calen Carr brace (We all dreamt of a team of Calen Carrs that night) on our way to our most recent trophy.
  • The 2007 Conference Semifinal Legs
    • We carried our D.C. playoff tournament streak through a 1-0 win in Bridgeview off an early Chris Rolfe goal, and a 2-0 first half at RFK that featured another reason that he’d be getting laid that night. However, the streak would break in the 69th minute and United would pull it level, with our Men in Red clinging to our aggregate advantage.
  • The 2008 U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal
    • With the spell broken, we failed to advance after a 2-1 result when we conceded a goal in extra time at the Maryland Soccerplex. We felt we could at least claim we had never lost to D.C. in regular time of any playoff meeting.
  • The 2013 U.S. Open Cup Semifinal
    • Even that streak broke 5 years later when D.C. sent me home dejected from a 2-0 loss that I viewed from the Harlem End. Yet we can still take solace in knowing that they have never beaten us in a playoff game in the District of Columbia.

 

Burns — A Brief Critique of a Team Whose Badge is Definitely Not a Nazi Eagle: 

You know how we were talking about Buzzards Point earlier? Well, personally, buzzards and roadkill go together in my mind. Which is exactly what comes to mind when I look at the 1st road jersey that DC ever wore against us. That stripe down the left side is supposed to represent the three stripes in the D.C. flag, but instead it comes off as tread marks from a reckless motorist (I can see the buzzards circling already).

 

Not only that, but their newest away jersey that was revealed this year looks like their jerseys got run over again, only this time from one of those huge mining trucks with the 3 foot wide tires. I am a huge fan of the D.C. Municipal flag, but these attempts at reference have fallen as flat as a raccoon that has lost a battle with a Fire engine.

It would also be irresponsible not to mention that D.C. United’s logo is definitely not a Nazi Insignia. It is SO MUCH NOT an Nazi insignia that the team itself changed the DC logo to “modernize” it, but made no reference to which way the eagle’s head faces in the new version because that was definitely not an obvious change that needed to be made.

DCUnited-Logo-Through-History-Not-Nazi

 

Sound of Sirens — Fire Chants to Shout at RFK (or at the screen from somewhere in Chicagoland):

Here are my favorites that will be deployed on this D.C. Trip:

  • The Classic: “Who the F*#k is D.C. United” sung to the Battle Hymn of the Republic
    • “D.C. United went to Rome to see the Pope, Rome to see the Pope, Rome to see the Pope,
      D.C. United went to Rome to see the Pope and this is what he said (F*#k you):
      Who the F*#k is D.C. United, Who the F*#k is D.C. United, Who the F*#k is D.C. United, and the Fire go marching on”
  • The Tribute: “Chris Rolfe is Getting Laid Tonight”:
    • Simply repeating the phrase above. It used to be done whenever he would score a goal for Chicago, but after he has been sadly sidelined by the effects of a concussion that have kept him off the field for more than a year for D.C. This time it will be deployed in tribute to a player that is beloved by fans on both sides of this rivalry.
  • Inside jokes for a Fire fan we haven’t gotten to see all year.
    • Jay Eychaner is the reason that a bunch of us Fire fans of different stripes watch soccer at Go Tavern. He forged a path that we just followed in, and this season hasn’t been the same since he took a job in Richmond. This will be our first opportunity to watch a game with him since his move and we’ll be breaking out those inside jokes that bind fans together during the more trying years (like the last few).

 

Watch Commander — Where to See the Game, and What to Look For:

I personally would love to see us shut D.C. out and leave RFK with 3 points on our possible last trip to its crumbling confines (even if we need to repeat the same feat next year). Look for long time Fire favorite Patrick Nyarko on the wing for D.C. and let’s hope that we can build off of their two consecutive home defeats, including the 4-0 drubbing United just suffered at the hands of the lowly Philadelphia Union.

Here’s where you can go to catch the game if you’re not one of the dozen or so that will be with me to watch the game live in person.

  • North (Lakeview, North Center, Roscoe, Lakeview)
    • Schubas on Belmont/Southport
    • AJ Hudson’s at Grace/Ashland
    • The Globe Pub near the Irving Park Brown Line just east of Damen.
    • The Atlantic Bar on Lincoln/Winnemac (Pub to Pitch Partner)
  • Northwest (Logan Square, Wicker/Bucktown/Ukie)
    • Cleo’s just east of Damen on Chicago (Pub to Pitch Partner)
    • Go Tavern on Armitage just east of Kedzie (Pub to Pitch Partner)
  • City (River North, Loop, South Loop)
    • Fado on Grand/Clark (Pub to Pitch Partner)
    • Galway Arms on Clark/Arlington (Pub to Pitch Partner)
    • Kroll’s on 18th/Michigan (Pub to Pitch Partner)
    • La Birreria on the 2nd floor of Eataly at Ohio/Wabash?
  • The Outer Limits
    • Rock Island Public House in Blue Island, 13328 Old Western Ave
    • Imperial Oak right across from the Willow Springs Metra Stop

If you know of any other bars in or outside of the city that play Fire games, let us know.

Kickoff 3pm CT on UniMas

 

 

Endnote… cheers to DC front office who, somehow, have a sense of humor about this whole raccoon thing…

Engine Company: America’s Hat – A Tale of Chicago’s Evil Canadian Twin

Seeing The Men in Red play at home is really just half the fun, but not all Fire fans are able to see them anywhere else. To experience the joys of an Away Game by proxy, OTF contributor Jacob Peters provides us some background on Fire supporter group history on-the-road, established rivalries, and some footnotes on how to effectively criticize, troll, and generally enjoy Fire away games. 

Sing in full voice. Hate with reason…

Toronto is kind of like an alternate reality Chicago.  One in which we didn’t tear out our Streetcars in the 50s, decided to randomly insert “u’s” into our words unnecessarily, expanded Meigs Field into a discount airline hub, and never built the elevated portions of the “L”.  It’s also an alternate reality in which the Chicago Fire built a stadium downtown adjacent to McCormick Place (this guy’s still holding onto that dream), and then we expanded it with an epic roof.

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Toyota Park is nice, but this…drool

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Nikolic, Schweinsteiger Lead Evisceration of Revs

2017-04-15 CHI v NE image

(Photo courtesy chicago-fire.com)

The Chicago Fire extended their unbeaten run to three matches on the heels of a dominant 3:0 victory over the New England Revolution at Toyota Park on Saturday. The Fire treated the Revs the way a dog treats a fire hydrant, and made them like it. Nemanja Nikolic scored twice to complement Bastian Schweinsteiger’s opener, as the Fire climbed to third place in the MLS Eastern Conference.

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Engine Company: Revscum

To experience the joys of supporter culture by-proxy OTF contributor Jacob Peters provides us some background on Fire history, rivalries, and some footnotes on how to effectively criticize, troll, and generally enjoy Fire games. Next up, Saturday’s home match-up against our most frequent playoff opponent, the Boston Providence Foxboro Foxborough New England Revolution.

Sing in full voice. Hate with reason.

On Saturday Chicago Fire plays host to a club that has met us in a plurality of our playoff appearances over the years. A club that has produced some of our biggest villains (Taylor Twellman and the blind draw that drew Jermaine Jones into the grubby paws of the Krafts, to name two), who we have deftly made the subject of running jokes.

Chicago Fire Supporters Christmas Card to Taylor Twellman

[Ed. Note] Look at the size of this man’s head.

To understand the extent to which this history has influenced the feeling of many Fire fans towards the Revs, I direct you to a post earlier this week from the current Section 8 Board Chairman Scott Greene on the ISA website:
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Fire Get the Job Done in Home Opener vs RSL

The Chicago Fire won’t win awards for stylish soccer after their first two matches of the 2017 campaign, but there are plenty of indications that they are on the right path. Their 2:0 win on Saturday over Real Salt Lake at Toyota Park was built on pragmatism, hard work, and taking advantage of opportunity.

On the day, RSL won just about every statistical battle, generating more shots, generating more corner kicks, and coming out on top in the possession battle. All of their possession amounted to precious little, as only one of their twelve shots was on target. Their mostly toothless attack was missing that final decisivetouch and it makes one wonder whether they jettisoned Javier Morales too soon.

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David Accam Chicago Fire scores goal against Columbus Crew in March 2017

Fire and Crew Share the Points in Opening Game Tug-of-War

Both the Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew come into 2017 looking to turn a page and forget about their respective dismal 2016 campaigns. They squared off on Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium in the season opener on a chilly afternoon and battled to a 1:1 draw. Based on the soccer on display it’s unlikely that either side learned much about whether 2017 will bring more joy than 2016 did, but both teams have a lot of work ahead if they want to be competitive. The Crew controlled play in the first half, while the Fire were the better team in the second. Given the sparse number of shots that found the target the 1:1 result can be considered a fair one.

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Depth Charge: Positional Battles After First Preseason Game

Chicago Fire Depth Chart Soccer OTFsoccer, Logan Pause

Give us fuel, give us Fire, give us depth which we desire. (photo via YoDesportes)

Preseason has started for your 2016 Chicago Fire. Prior to tomorrow’s friendly against fellow basement-buddy Philadelphia Union, we wanted to look at the depth chart battles going on. Continue reading

OTF Roundtable: One Prediction

Chicago-Hope-OTFsoccer

The “Original Recipe” OTF Roundtable returns. Preseason practice has begun, the team looks considerably younger and (dare we say it), there are even some signs of hope. Even some of OTF’s perma-skeptics may be coming around to the team … maybe.

Today’s roundtable question:

What is one prediction about the 2016 Fire season that you are sure will come true?

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Chicago Fire Offseason Player Movement

2015-16ChicagoFireOff-Preseason-OTFsoccer.gif

Ironically, when things move so slowly it is hard to see what’s really happening. Aside from the wheeling and dealing on Draft Day, there was considerable movement on the Fire roster so far in the offseason…

Here’s all the official player movement that has occurred since October 24th through January 27th in handy GIF form.  Below is a description by week.

(Last Update, 1/29)

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Maths Apology: Which 2015 Fire Players Earned Their Salaries?

Larentowicz-OTF-Performance2015.png

Chicago shed a lot of player contracts last week as new GM Nelson Rodriguez and new coach Veljko Paunovoic freed up as many dollars as possible for the upcoming MLS post season scramble.

As Phase One of the Re-Entry draft begins it’s worth taking a look at how the 2015 Fire performed in context to their MLS salaries.
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The Cold Head and Warm Heart of Veljko Paunovic

Pauno-Lifted.jpg

Chicago Fire’s new General Manager Nelson Rodriguez doubled-down on his staff cleansing by announcing the organization’s new coach, Veljko Paunovic last week.

Calling Veljko Paunovic an “outside” choice is an understatement, as most media and local soccer followers tracking the Front Office’s progress (and perhaps thinking they had insider info) rattled off considerably long lists of potential candidates — none of which included the 37-year old who coached Serbia to a u20 World Cup victory this summer.

Now that the announcement is a few days old (buried under so much delicious turkey and Cyber Monday purchases) how much do we really know about Pauno?

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Who is the Next Chicago Fire Coach?

Nelson-Rodriquez-Chicago-Fire-MLS-GM

Does Fire GM Nelson Rodriguez’s upcoming coaching decision dwarf the rest on the organization’s needs?

New Chicago Fire General Manager Nelson Rodriguez speaks to the press for the first time officially this Sunday. Media speculates that a great deal of this conversation revolves around choosing a coach for the 2015 season.

It’s a decision which Rodriguez has stated he wants made by Thanksgiving, so the clock is ticking.

With a lot of rumors floating around, and with Rodriguez’s own United States Soccer Federation history fueling the guesses, the OTF writers pool took some guesses on who the next Fire coach might be…
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OTF Roundtable: Frank Yallop Out, Nelson Rodriguez In

Wow. That happened quick.

Quicker than we were able get to Home Depot for some new pitchforks and lanterns, the Chicago Fire organization borrowed some from the Bridgeview Grounds Crew and did it themselves, (maybe). As of Sunday afternoon Technical Director and Head Coach Frank Yallop is out (along with his coaching staff), and Owner Andrew Hauptman has installed a General Manager with some serious league chops — Nelson Rodriguez. Read Fire’s official release here, and read below for some additional speculation.

So, we ask our illustrious OTF Writers Pool: Do the recent Fire Front Office and coaching changes make you more optimistic, pessimistic, or increasingly indifferent about the future of the organization?

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Don’t Look Back in Anger: Fire lose to Orlando and now it doesn’t really matter.

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Editor’s Note: This snarky re-post was to be published Sunday after Chicago’s yawner of a loss, and a follow-up post to ESPN Chicago Radio’s highly suspect defense of Frank Yallop the week before no longer feels relevant. There is a weird tinge of something surfacing through Fire supporters thick armor of cynicism. As a Chicago sports fan I’m not sure what you call it; a less jaded type may call it optimism. (Had to spellcheck that word, I’ve never typed it before.)  Anyway, because I’ve already put this together I’m posting it, but, stay tuned, there is positive news….

 This article, in its entirety, was posted on September 17th, 2014, any updates for the 2015 season have been noted with a “strike through” and additions in bold.

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OTF Roundtable: What to Make of Hunter Jumper’s Chicago Fire Criticism

Screenshot 2015-09-16 at 3.11.19 PM

If you’ve sworn off the #CF97 hashtag for the rest of the year you missed a (*ahem*) Fire Storm earlier this week when former Chicago Fire defender Hunter Jumper tweeted for HOURS about the Fire organization. Most of Jumper’s Tweets are still up if you want to track back.

If you’re looking for a straight recap with minimal commentary, Fire Confidential has captured the rant for posterity’s sake. Here’s what some OTF contributors had to say about Jumper’s damning tirade when asked…

“What’s your biggest take-away from Hunter Jumper’s Twitter Comments?”

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8/22/15: Fire Fans’ Action Plan

Capture

We’re expressin’ with our full capabilities…

On Saturday, August 22nd, at Toyota Park, a collaborative effort among supporters and fans will express their disappointment and discontent with the current state of Chicago Fire Soccer Club. Read on for a detailed schedule of activities and action…

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Sean Johnson Rescues a Point! Will It Matter?

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(courtesy mlssoccer.com)

Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson pulled a rabbit out if his hat several times last Sunday to keep the Fire competitive in a match in which the Philadelphia Union easily could have buried them. The teams traded goals and leads back and forth, but the affair was not settled until Kennedy Igboananike drove him his second goal of the match deep into second-half stoppage time to salvage a 3:3 draw.
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