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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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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Fire Get the Job Done in Home Opener vs RSL

The Chicago Fire won’t win awards for stylish soccer after their first two matches of the 2017 campaign, but there are plenty of indications that they are on the right path. Their 2:0 win on Saturday over Real Salt Lake at Toyota Park was built on pragmatism, hard work, and taking advantage of opportunity.

On the day, RSL won just about every statistical battle, generating more shots, generating more corner kicks, and coming out on top in the possession battle. All of their possession amounted to precious little, as only one of their twelve shots was on target. Their mostly toothless attack was missing that final decisivetouch and it makes one wonder whether they jettisoned Javier Morales too soon.

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#cf97 – Hope, Passion and the Fire’s Three-Way Battle for ‘Keeper

I’m back, with another installment of my “Monday Musings” column on a Tuesday. Why am I back?  Or, why was I gone?  The answer to both questions is simple:  a loss of “passion” for my beloved Chicago Fire Soccer Club.  I’d been sitting on a draft of this piece, weighing whether my passion has been properly reignited.  Yesterday gave me the proper perspective to gauge that it is the proper time to hit “publish”.  Last season, after a series of tragic losses, I lost a bit of passion for the Club and the sport that I love.  It didn’t help that fans and the front office were in general disagreement about pretty much everything.  Fans protested, in a “Black Out” of sorts, with mixed results. It was a low point in my love for the Fire.  My sons also started to give up hope, tired of giving up points after watching 90 minutes of nervous, and at times rudderless soccer.    Against this backdrop, I couldn’t find anything positive to write about.  My “muse” was gone.   Continue reading

Nowhere to Go But Up

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(courtesy Sean King on Fire Confidential)

MLS designated the final round of matches in the 2015 regular season as Decision Day. Some playoff spots were still up for grabs and Sunday’s results finally resolved postseason matchups. For the New York Red Bulls, Decision Day was a two-pronged battle: they would face the Chicago Fire on the field, and they were vying for the Supporters Shield with Western Conference leaders FC Dallas. The Fire, already locked in as the very bottom team in MLS, could only spoil the party for the Red Bulls.

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Fire Clinch MLS Basement

(via Washington Post)

(Courtesy Washington Post)

While presiding over one of the worst teams in the history of Major League Baseball, manager Casey Stengel asked, “Can’t anybody here play this game?” It would have been an apt to question to ask of the Chicago Fire’s performance on Sunday versus DC United. DC controlled the match from the outset and then pounded home three goals in rapid succession in the second half to complete the packaging on a 4:0 laugher. The result assures that the Fire will finish 2015 as the worst team in Major League Soccer.

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