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
Stefan Antonijevic in action for Valparaiso University in 2011. | Photo credit: valpoathletics.com
The path toward achieving a dream isn’t always clear-cut. In January, Stefan Antonijevic became the first ever player from Valparaiso University to be drafted into Major League Soccer when Sporting Kansas City used the 43rd pick in the MLS Supplemental Draft to acquire the 2011 Horizon League Defensive player of the year.
Unfortunately for Antonijevic, SKC decided they already had enough depth in defense and opted against offering the former Valparaiso University defender a place on the team. In fairness, SKC is one of the most talented teams in the league and has a perfect record to show for it so far this season.
“Stefan gets judged because of his size. He’s six to seven feet and not as big as everyone else,” said VU Men’s Soccer Head Coach Mike Avery. “He was the last cut at Sporting Kansas City, so that was disappointing. But it’s no insult to him. They are arguably the best team in the league, at least so far this season, and have two really good young central defenders.”
Sporting Kansas City’s defense has been a significant reason for their unbeaten record, as the league leaders have conceded just two goals in seven matches, meaning breaking into a defense like that would have been a tall order for rookie. As a result, Antonijevic was granted the opportunity to pursue an MLS contract elsewhere.
Antonijevic (far left) celebrates with the rest of the U-20 squad after winning the 2008 USL Super-20 title. | Photo credit: United Soccer Leagues
And Antonijevic is working on doing just that. Last month, the Serbian defender began training with the Chicago Fire as a guest player. Continue reading
The return of a legend and the Fire's new #18.
As if a 2009 Eastern Conference final loss to Real Salt Lake at Toyota Park wasn’t hard enough to swallow, the departure of Chris Rolfe – a true Fire original – two months earlier was also a major low point of the 2009 campaign. Rolfe took up the opportunity in September that year to prove himself in Europe with Aalborg BK in the Danish Superliga and the move was understandable.
It’s quite common for American players to grasp the first chance to play in Europe that comes their way, but it was still disappointing to lose a player who established himself as an integral member of the club during his five seasons from 2005-2009, as well as with the Chicago Fire Premier in the Premier Development League. Continue reading
Can Dominic haunt his old club again? | Photo credit: mlssoccer.com
Somehow MLS schedulers have seen fit to fail to give Houston and Chicago any matches for the first month of the season. Well, not any…both teams have played three. While apologists for MLS quirks in this realm will cite working out the kinks of the new uneven schedule or the even lamer explanation, traveling distance, there really is no excuse for both of these teams in devoted markets to have this few matches played. Back-to-back bye weeks are utterly ridiculous. No matter the grumblings, there’s nothing to be done about it but look forward to match number four.
Houston come into Chicago on Sunday having won two and lost one, the memory of that loss has probably faded over the last two weeks so there’s little hope that that result will be weighing on the minds of Dynamo players. Continue reading
Image source: Yahoo sports
As frustrating as it may be to do so, take a minute and think back to the 58th minute of Sunday night’s defeat to the Colorado Rapids. Newly acquired Rapids midfielder Martin Rivero hits a long ball towards the Fire’s left-hand corner for Brian Mullan to chase. Clearly tired and lacking the pace needed to catch Mullan, Gonzalo Segares lags several yards behind and cannot prevent the Colorado veteran from reaching the ball, looking up and examining his options, and finding Omar Cummings unmarked in the center of the box with acres of space. 1-0 to the home side.
My problem with this goal doesn’t even lie with Segares, apart from his lack of effort to stop the cross, but the main culprits for this goal are the Fire’s center-backs: Cory Gibbs and Jalil Anibaba. The pair have built a formidable defensive partnership together, but they simply weren’t at their best on Sunday. The image below portrays just how much space they left for Cummings, a type of sin when committed in one’s own penalty box.
Omar Cummings finds himself in acres of space for Colorado's opening goal against the Fire on Sunday.
But is defense really the main problem for the Chicago Fire and the main area for Frank Klopas to address before Houston’s visit to Toyota Park on April 15th? I’m not convinced. Continue reading