(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.
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.
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.
Correspondent Matt Bird ponders the history of the beautiful game in STL as Saint Louis FC ups the quality with local talent and Chicago Fire reinforcements.
We’ve waited a long while, me, personally for nine months since the team was announced back in May 2014. Others will say they’ve been waiting for a team for five years since the one-year wonder AC Saint Louis folded in 2010.
Saint Louis is a soccer town, make no mistake about it. What kind of soccer town has yet to be determined. Back in the ’50s and ’60s was the heyday with Simpkins Ford and Kutis winning US Open Cups, and all too fondly remembered. The ’80s and ’90s were all about the indoor game with the Steamers and Ambush plying their trades around the tough MISL circuit. Now with MLS having exploded since the 1994 World Cup, the professional game has seemingly passed us by.
On The Fire is well pleased to bring you the musings and thoughtful prose of our honored guest, one of Chicago’s finest sports bloggers, Mr. Sam Fels.