The Fire look to back bounce from a shocking midweek defeat to the Michigan Bucks in the 3rd round of the US Open Cup. | Photo credit: zimbio.com
Chicago Fire at New England Revolution
Saturday June 2, 2012 (6:30 pm)
Last weekend I was more than a little bit worried that the match against Columbus was not going to end well for Chicago. Unfortunately, I was right. Chicago has been consistently inconsistent to such a degree that their record has become oddly balanced (excluding the US Open Cup failure on Tuesday). The Fire’s form over the last five matches, T-W-L-W-L, is just part of the see-saw season they’ve strung together thus far, and their home/away results are a near mirror image, 3-1-2 at home and 2-3-1 on the road. It’s irksome.
I mentioned last week over at Total MLS, that the Fire’s weaknesses can be pin-pointed. They have been woeful defending set pieces and have seemingly always been behind this season. Updating the states shows us that Chicago has allowed the opening goal nine times this season, which ties the wretched Toronto FC for the most games conceded first in MLS. This is a major problem. Chicago haven’t kept a clean sheet since May 9th which was only the second of the season, the first being against Philadelphia on March 24th. Continue reading
May 20, 7pm
JELD-WEN Field, Portland
Peter Vermes made a stink last week, embarrassing himself by going off on rookie referee Jose Carlos Rivero’s decision to give Roger Espinoza a straight red card for flying through the air and deciding to land elbow-first on Sebastian Grazzini. Funny thing about that red card, it wasn’t about embellishment or how much Grazzini was or wasn’t hurt, it was about clear intent to harm. Espinoza went up high and was falling when he started to come down but replays show how Espinoza saw full well what was before him and how he decided to toss his elbow out. No one in the history of sport has ever thought, “I will cushion my fall using my elbow.” Complaints about that red card are, at best, disingenuous. Which I guess is the reason why Vermes was suddenly so taciturn this week when mumbling that the team would not to appeal the red card. Three straight loses makes every manager snippy.
For Fire supporters it matters really for only one reason, Grazzini who has been pushed around all season and gotten no calls from referees was finally given a call. Too bad it had to be so blatant. Speaking of blatant, apparently Arne Friedrich and the team really want to play down his hamstring injury. Continue reading
Match Preview: Chicago vs. Kansas City
Toyota Park, May 12
So far May has been kind to the Fire, undefeated with four points over two games. But things are getting progressively more difficult. The defeat of Chivas in LA came at the last seconds and this last Wednesday’s draw against Real Salt Lake though steady was uninspiring. Chicago’s midweek match was a midfield grind which in a way revealed the true character of the Fire. MLS is midfield-centric league, and Chicago toes the line.
On Wednesday, we saw Marco Pappa put in a third straight excellent performance. Part of this is due to the growing understanding between Pappa and playmaker Seba Grazzini, but part of this is also due to the fact that Pappa has embraced playing the left wing role. Manager Frank Klopas has said that Chicago “are not a team that is going to rely too much on service,” so I suppose I’m going to have to resign myself to the fact that Pappa and Patrick Nyarko will never be played as out-and-out wingers. Yet it can’t be ignored that when Pappa and Nyarko provide service, the Chicago attack lights up. Continue reading
Logan and co. will be desperate for three points after last weekend’s disappointment against Seattle | Photo credit: ESPN LA
Match Preview: Chicago Fire at Chivas USA (Home Depot Center)
Friday, May 4 (ESPN 3)
Tactics is at once the easiest thing to comment upon and the most difficult thing to get right; I would venture that this is an absolute truth for pundits. For managers, the axiom is a little iffy. A manager can see a string of luck, good or bad, that overrides any tactical tweaking or consistency. On the bad side we see Aron Winters experiencing this every day in Toronto and Peter Nowak getting an earful every week, while on the good side Ben Olson is quietly making a case for manager of the year, Peter Vermes is mining gold, and people still think Sigi Schmid is a grandmaster and not some high-rent Hans Backe. The point is, tactics for the supporter and pundit is a vast arena of speculation, one that demands engagement but where you can’t honestly expect to ever be right. Too many variables. But tell that to the sport betting crowd. Continue reading
Can the Chicago Fire dish out a small dose of revenge for last year's loss to the Sounders in the US Open Cup final? | Photo credit: zimbio.com
The last time Chicago saw Seattle was the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final, and it was not a night to remember for Fire supporters. Although Chicago was on the upswing making a last ditch run for MLS playoffs, the team that faced off against Seattle in the US Open Cup final, it could be argued, reverted to playing as the Carlos de los Cobos’s Fire and not the Frank Klopas’s Fire. In that final, Chicago played spastically, failing to maintain possession by frustratingly playing head-tennis rather than orchestrating any kind of attack. Continue reading