Chicago vs DC: Smelling Salts

Celebrations!

I picked a fine game not to watch live. You know something good has happened when you get a text message saying "Stop what you're doing. Right now. Ok. Watch the Fire NOW!". This option wasn't available to me but I checked my phone and saw the two goals in stoppage. I totally didn't scream like a little girl who just got her first My Little Pony toy.

So I finally was able to watch the game proper (screw you stupid internet connection). Me, MDL, and the Roku box got together for some sweet Fire action. Yay its the Fire feed. Join me after the jump where I finally get the answer to a question that should never be asked "Honestly, who bunkers at home?"

To say DC was actively trying kill off 90 minutes in an effort to get 1 point and maybe steal 3 (best damn team at flopping in the box) at home is not entirely accurate. Try 89 minutes. That first minute was all DC offense. OK so that isn't entirely true but they weren't sending many guys forward trying to score. Strange decision considering the circumstances. Here were the Fire without three key defensive players. Mike Videira started! Attack his wing force him to make plays. Make the Fire adjust to that strategy. Instead DC looked content to sit back and let DeRo and Najar do something amazing or to flop in the box when they got the chance (Josh Wolff you have turned into quite the flopper). Very odd strategy if you ask me.

To the Fire's credit they took advantage of what DC gave them. They pushed up the field. Taking advantage of the soft defensive midfield of DC. Created opportunities from each wing. Some of them were half chances but chances nonetheless. Pappa could have been better. He was straying far from his winger position and disrupting the flow for Grazzini. Yet he still was able to get some shots in on goal and at the minimum make DC respect his shooting ability. Sometimes the Fire still miss the easy, simple pass. Nyarko and Pappa were both guilty of this at times. The 93rd minute lack of the simple pass to Chaves from Pappa was really bad. These types of mistakes cost scoring opportunities. I know both players are great with the ball at their feet they have to know when to make the right pass.

Defensively the Fire looked composed. Of course it is easy to look composed when you only have to worry about a couple of guys. Still credit to Mikulic, Pause, and Paladini for containing DeRo and Najar for most of the evening. Mikulic in particular deserves praise for his effort. He looks fully recovered from his injury earlier this year. Anibaba sliding over to the RB spot early in the game and playing well was very nice to see. Also Cuesta put in a nice shift after getting some rust out in the first 5 to 10 minutes he was on the field. The commitment from all the defensive players to disrupt the shots of DC United was a site to see. They were really effective shutting down DC's bomb from the outside of the box strategy.

Gonzalo Segares played his best offensive game of the season. Early on his passing was excellent. That continued throughout the game. His defensive work was also very good. Full of solid effort and physical play. His defensive positioning was also top notch against the DC strike force for most of the game. This was the Gonzalo we were expecting all season. Personally I thought the penalty was a bit harsh but considering all of the flopping DC was doing anything that looked close to legit was probably going to get called. Quaranta did go down quite easily but everyone for DC does. Sega extracts his revenge with two excellent assists on the goals. One of them acquired by never giving up and taking advantage of DC players looking at the ref. Some payback for DC's incessant flopping.

Seba was quite effective tonight in general and his goal was a wonder strike. A phenomenal effort. The game winner went to a truly deserving Diego Chaves. This guy has been dying to score for a long time now. The relief and joy that played across his face was good to see. He is a player I enjoy rooting for as he works hard and rarely gives up on a play. What a great show of team spirit at the end of the game.  The best 5 minutes of soccer the team has played all season.  Sega deserves a lot of credit for this win. This team clearly enjoys playing with each other.

Other Thoughts: Yamith Cuesta is from a place in Columbia called Turbo. So awesome. Marco needs to spend some time working on his right foot. Needs to be able to shoot with that foot off a volley or at least cross with it. Marco also needs to get wide as he is straying way to far inside and cutting out space for Grazzini, happened on more than one occasion during this game. Daniel Paladini throws a terrifically concealed elbow. The Fire really need to chase a proven MLS goal scorer in the offseason whose game is not predicated on speed. It would force teams to not drop off so deep to protect against the Fire's superior pace. DC looks for penalties more than any other team I've seen in MLS this year. They really are turning into their coach, totally annoying yet weirdly effective (well the transformation isn't compete yet, just wait till next year for DC to be effective). So did our announce crew even acknowledge that King and Woolard used to play for the Fire? I expect our crew to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the team. Helps build credibility with your fan base.

The Fire aren't dead yet but seriously a miracle needs to go down this weekend. Lets hope that it does.

I'll see you all Saturday.

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