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: 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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OTF Roundtable: The Signal, The Noise, and The German

Making predictions is hard. And it becomes even harder when the information you are working with is, well… noisy. In Nate Silver’s book, “The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t,” he connects our ineptability to make accurate predictions (humans, not Fire fans) as an evolutionary problem identifying the truth from nonsense.

In a line that feels very Chicago Fire-y, Silver says, “Some stone-age strengths have become information-age weaknesses.” Let’s replace “stone-age,” with “MLS 1.0,” pause for a moment, and then move on.

It’s been a really noisy four weeks: An opening draw against a Columbus team that might be awful, a shrug-then-bunker opening day against half an RSL side, then a dizzying loss to Atlanta that gave us about eight minutes of actual soccer to work with.  Bad soccer.

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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

Who Are The Best Players & Best Values in MLS Free Agency, Re-Entry

MLSBestValues-OTFsoccer-CF97

Evaluating players is a messy thing.  With MLS’s first Free Agency class now available for purchase and MLS’s yearly Re-Entry Round 2 Draft beginning tomorrow (Thursday, 12/17), it is worth looking at who’s available… and who’s worth being available.
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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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Does Klinsman Have Anything to Do With the USMNT Loss to Mexico?

United States’ Fabian Johnson (23) is challenged by Mexico’s Oribe Peralta during the CONCACAF Cup match (via BostonHerald.com)

 Fabian Johnson challenged by Oribe Peralta during USMNT vs Mexico match Saturday (via BostonHerald.com)

After the U.S. did not make the Gold Cup final earlier this year, it was clear that Jurgen Klinsman had been given a longer leash than previous National Team coaches like Bob Bradley and Bruce Arena. Now, after the US loss to Mexico on Saturday night and their match against Costa Rica tonight, we ask the OTF Staff: What changes (if any) need to be made to improve the United States Men’s National Team?
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The Kids Are Alright: The Chicago Fire are the New Cubs

Chicago Fire SOccer Goal Celebration

(via USA Today)

After what was a pretty successful league run for the first decade or so of their existence, Chicago’s still-young franchise had begun to stall.

It was a new century and there was a clear need for change. The owner ousted their manager (a beloved former player) and the vacuum that remained caused an even further dip in performance. Supporters, still loyal to the club and sympathetic to its young local players, gave the team some nicknames: “The Remnants,” and “The Orphans” were two of the more popular ones, but the one that caught on… in 1900’s … was “The Cubs.”

The name stuck.

As the first pitch for your 2015 National League Wildcard Cubs nears, let’s go ahead and place that Loveable Losers crown on the new not-so-great team with young talent and plenty of hustle — the Chicago Fire.

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Resilient Fire Defeat Red Bulls… So You’re Telling Me There’s a Chance

Chicago Fire Soccer Celebrates Win over New York Red Bull August 2015

Good times. (via Soccer By Ives)

There was a point, eons ago, when OTF covered on-field soccer events in addition to domestic soccer culture. …This is one of those posts.

Witnessed on the field last night was the kind of grit, resiliency, and determination that Fire Supporters had been hoping to see the whole season but rarely had. Even if the game had ended in a draw (which Eric Gherig made sure did not happen) the experience was pure pleasure.

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Fire Attack Out of Ideas, Out of Cup

The story that played out at PPL Park on Wednesday night was depressingly similar to the story that has been on display all season for the Chicago Fire. The Fire offense was missing a beginning, middle and end, so it was only a matter of time before the Philadelphia Union, no less feeble in attack than the Fire, would find the goal that would propel them to their second US Open Cup Final in as many years. Sebastian Le Toux did the honors in the 74th minute, but the game was lost long before then.
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Bum Fights at the Blackjack Table: Chicago Plays Philly in Back-to-Back Shrug Off

Try Again. (via GoldStar.com)

Try, Try Again. (via GoldStar.com)

In case you haven’t successfully sifted through U.S. Open Cup game date information (info which Major League Soccer has little incentive to promote), the Chicago Fire are meeting fellow cellar dwelling Philadelphia Union in a semi-final match tomorrow, Wednesday 8/12. The two teams also meet again, in The Bum Fight Double, for an MLS league match this weekend.

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Fire Defense Leads to Latest Letdown

E7QVSBv - Imgur

Photo courtesy chicago-fire.com

Much of the pre-game hype leading up to the Fire’s tilt with the New England Revolution last Saturday centered on Drogba Watch, as fans waited to see whether an aging striker still has enough magic left to provide some hope for a season that was quickly sinking into oblivion. Discussion regarding Didier Drogba’s effectiveness was the perfect fodder for debate while having a pre-game beer. That discussion, unfortunately, missed the point about what ails this Fire team far more acutely than adding more firepower up top, and that is the atrocious level of defending. Amateurish mistakes were on full display at Toyota Park on Saturday, as the Fire and Revs shared the spoils in a 2:2 draw.

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Tactical Notes: Sporting Kansas City Have the Edge Over the Fire

Shaun Maloney Chicago Fire Benny Feilhaber sporting kansas city skc cf97

(via MLS)

Chicago Fire’s lack of finishing upfront puts a heavy burden on the backline. 

The Chicago Fire saw their modest three-game winning streak snapped on Sunday when they dropped a narrow 1:0 decision to Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park. Substitute Paulo Nagamura scored the only goal of the match in the 75th minute.

The match was evenly contested, but it was the home side that showed just a bit more quality. Scoring chances for the Fire were plentiful. Finishing, however, was left wanting yet again. SKC’s backup goalkeeper Tim Melia did a solid job in place of Luis Marin, whom coach Peter Vermes benched following the previous week’s 4:4 goalfest in Houston. Melia proved his worth, registering three saves on the day to keep the Fire off the scoreboard.

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The First Fan: Reflections on 10 Years Without Peter Wilt

Cf97_ChicagoFire_PeterWilt_OTF_USopencup

Ten years ago last week, news broke that the first President and General Manager of the Chicago Fire was leaving the club. Despite Peter Wilt’s departure from Major League Soccer, his influence in the North American game remains.  

In an age of “Circle the Wagon” franchise mentality, Wilt is a champion of fan culture, corporate accessibility, and organizational transparency.  Among other accomplishments, Wilt has plied his trade as CEO of the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars, established the Milwaukee Wave soccer club, and is currently President of NASL’s Indy Eleven.

Some of OTF’s favorite soccer personalities were kind enough to answer the prompt:

“What are your reflections on Peter Wilt ten years after he left the MLS?”

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@Jvlaha’s Monday Musings, Episode 1

There’s a new editor in charge of “On The Fire”, and with that, I’ve decided to step up and write a new column. Without further ado, here is the first episode of “Vlaha’s Monday Musings”.  Today’s piece comes in four parts…

Part One, “The Empire Strikes Back”, #Schedulegate

The-empire-strikes-back-soccer

First stop on today’s installment is #Schedulegate. Fire fans are justifiably upset about recent schedule changes which apparently were going to happen whether or not the Front Office was going to go along with them.

Although I can’t say that the Fire was a team firing on all cylinders during the team’s 3-2 Ping-Pong victory against Toronto, the team looked vastly improved over recent games. As a result of this win, the Fire could have strutted into our scheduled games Foxborough Massachusetts (this Wednesday) and Montreal (this weekend) with a bit of a “we can do this” swagger…

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Maths Apology: Salary vs Performance Breakdown

Lovell Palmer Chicago Fire OTF

Why Lovel Palmer was one of the few Fire players offered new deals. (Photo via MLSSoccer.com)

The Fire are amidst a flurry of Nordic signings, and just weeks earlier Coach Frank Yallop and Technical Director Brian Bliss opted to pick up only six of a possible seventeen contract renewals.

Most fans tracking the Fire Front Office’s moves thus far assume that many of those athletes who were not offered a contract renewal may wind up back on the team with a renegotiated salary. (Of course, as Chris Rolfe learned, even a renegotiated contract doesn’t guarantee employment).

So… how good (or bad) were Fire players last year?  Did they measure up to their contracts? Who is worth keeping?

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How not to screw up CONCACAF Champions League: a guide for MLS

You want this trophy, MLS? Try a little harder to get it this time. (wvhooligan.com)

You want this trophy, MLS? Try a little harder to get it this time. (wvhooligan.com)

CCL 2014-15 is nigh. Austin Fido is here to ease you back in to the CONCACAF Champions League chat with some friendly advice for MLS’s representatives… Continue reading