Every time a semi-popular Fire player gets cut, waived or traded there seemingly is someone who pops up and says something along the lines of "we treated this player poorly" or "he was underused!" (otherwise known as the Frankowski Axiom). The most recent case of this was career journeyman Bratislav Ristic. Last season Ristic got to be popular since he was busy out working just about everyone else on a team he just joined. It was nice to see and made everyone very hopeful he would be back the following season. What is rarely acknowledged is that being one of the bright shiny objects in a pile of dung makes you stand out.
When Ristic was let go to make room for Pavel Pardo the Frankowski Axiom was deployed. Except that in this case it held little to no water. The Fire built their 3-5-2 in large part due to the fine play of Ristic the year previous. In Game 1 Ristic went out played like a giant pile of s--- and promptly got hurt. During his injury stint the 3-5-2 had to be junked as the Fire lacked the proper personnel to play it (putting into question why you would go to it in the first place if it relied on the health of a 30 plus year old midfielder so heavily). Ristic lost his spot and then was stuck behind the fine wing play of Nyarko and Oduro. So at this point you had a low on the depth chart international making $125,000 per year (allegedly) who was not contributing in a meaningful way. Cutting him loose was the obvious and correct move. Not to mention he was a depth player on a team who hadn't exactly been winning. He should have expected to get cut or traded as should everyone else on the roster save for Sean Johnson.
While we were all, myself included, marveling at the Frankowski Axiom being deployed for a player of such stature what flew under the radar is that the Fire were busy addressing their biggest weakness, central midfield. Pardo is a vast improvement in passing ability over Logan Pause (duh). Grazzini is a vast improvement over the void that was the attacking part of the central midfield (shockingly obvious). The team on the field just got significantly better. The bench just got better (this includes the Dasan Robinson trade). For a team that has TWO wins that is huge news. For a team in the Semi Finals of the US Open Cup it is news of ginormous import.
Yes we can all whine that Pardo is too old and might hurt the team's overall defense. We can also fret over the new central midfield pairings game day fitness levels. Of course neither of these are worth losing any sleep over. Being better offensively should help the defense and it's not like Pardo's arrival is going to make Gibbs, Cuesta, and Mikulic suddenly worse players (if only we could get all three on the field at the same time). Grazzini's presence should take some pressure off of Segares who has, unfortunately, been forced into an integral offensive role due to the over reliance on wing play to generate offense. Another bonus is Logan Pause potentially moving to right back. Jalil Anibaba has been solid from that position but tends to turn the ball over a bit to much (due to his over confidence in his ability to hit 40 yard across the field passes). In turn this gives the team needed bench help. Adding Anibaba and Paladini to the current bench forces strengthens the ability to make adjustments in game. The only thing missing from the summer window haul is a bonafied MLS caliber striker. Diego Chaves, Dominic Oduro, Cristian Nazarit and Orr Barouch will surely be dressed for all games. Hopefully one of them can get hot. Having an actual creative force in the middle of the field might give our talented wing crew better chances as well. Seriously I can't stress enough how awful the central midfield was for most of this season.
Wednesday night's game is something to be excited for. The Philly Union come into town. This is a team that decided to sell their best player without an adequate replacement (The Filthy Dirty Fish Carlos Ruiz). A team who appears to be ripe for the taking. Let's cut the crap, I hate Philadelphia. I hate their uniforms, their logo, their stupid fans and honestly I'm not exactly a fan of Coach Novak (I said Coach people, put your axes away). I hate them for winning with ridiculous goals the last time we played them. I'm f********* sick and tired of losing at home. Bridgeview needs to be defended and with vigor. That damn well better start against Philadelphia.