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.
The Fire have never won a match in the Pacific Northwest since Seattle, Portland and Vancouver joined MLS and that trend continued last Friday at Providence Park, as the Timbers squeezed out a 1:0 victory. That result, combined with Philadelphia’s scoreless draw with Orlando City on Saturday, dropped the Fire back into the cellar of the Eastern Conference.
(photo courtesy chicago-fire.com)
The Chicago Fire’s 2:0 blanking of FC Dallas on Sunday was truly a breath of fresh air. For once, the Fire’s backline looked like a disciplined, coordinated group, unlike the amateurish vagabonds that allowed two very sloppy goals to New England on July 25. Whether this turnabout was due to the return of Jeff Larentowicz, the benching of Adailton, the return of Matt Polster to his rightful place in midfield, or some combination of the three is great fodder for discussion. Regardless of how the Fire did it, they got the job done, and these three points are crucial in determining whether a playoff spot is even feasible. With 13 matches left and 39 points on offer, the Fire really need to take the positives from this performance and make sure that they are part of the game plan every week.
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.
The absence of David Accam and a clinical finisher made apparent in their 2-1 loss.
Real Salt Lake demonstrated remarkable efficiency in front of goal on Saturday at Toyota Park and sent the Chicago Fire to a disappointing 2:1 defeat. The up-and-down Fire started the season with three consecutive defeats, bounced back to win three in a row, and have now dropped their last two. The biggest story continues to be the moribund finishing.
Here is my third installment of “Monday Musings.” As always, it’s a mix of insight, analysis and fluff.
Part I – Fired Up Friday
First off, after some notable snipping on Twitter among Fire fans, it’s a relief to see everyone happy after the Fire got its third victory of the season on a cold and blustery Friday night. While not quite a sell out in terms actual attendance, the crowd was very loud, and truly into this match. It has been a long time since we’ve had this type of atmosphere at Toyota Park. Section 8 was very active and there was even stereo effect between Section 8 and Sector Latino during goal kicks. You all know the irksome chant. Someone did their best to translate it when Montreal’s Evan Bush was subjected to this “friendly greeting.”
Coach Frank Yallop gives the Fire’s 2-1 loss 75% of a thumbs up. (Via Chicago-Fire.com)
James Vlahakis’ review of the Fire’s 2-1 loss to San Jose is an exercise in restrained rage.
This was a match that will stick out in the memories of the Fire faithful. My grim review is not what I wanted to do on my spring break vacation, but as a fan of the game and the Fire in particular, I’m going to be blunt and honest in my assesment. I’m not drinking Kool-Aid on this trip, that’s for sure…