Regardless of whether the Chicago Fire make the playoffs or not, the fact is that the season drawing to a close. As frustrating as this season has been, the idea of three to four months without a meaningful Chicago Fire game depresses me even more than the Fire missing the playoffs. Sure, there maybe other things happening like the MLS SuperDraft and Christmas, but off-season life is just not the same.
Anyways, enough thinking about the end of the season. The Fire still have three games left for sure and Saturday's fixture in Frisco will be the their first attempt at defending their right to hang on to the Brimstone Cup. Ahead of the "derby" between the Fire and the team formerly known as the Burn, we reached out to Alfredo Cuvi, an Editor over at Big D Soccer to ask him a few questions.
1) Do the longtime fans in Dallas still consider the Fire a rivalry? I still take pride when the Fire are able to beat the team formerly known as the Burn and can bring the Brimstone Cup to Chicago (even though its not that often). (via Adam Merges)
The longtime fans in Dallas definitely do. In fact, Drew Epperley just wrote an article saying that he feels the rivalry has died down, and some old timers chimed in to tut-tut this opinion. It makes sense that they feel this way as old rivalries take a real long time to go away.
I don't feel even a smidgen of rivalry with the Fire, but I'm far from the majority opinion it seems. The fans seem to revel in hating Chicago.
2) In his first stint with FC Dallas, Kenny Cooper was more of a pure goal scorer. Does his current role - usually playing on either side of Perez - suit his skill set more, or is he just not good enough to supplant Perez at the top of the formation? (via John Jenzeh)
There is nothing Kenny Cooper currently does better than Blas Perez. He doesn't even do anything equally as well. I wish I could give you some more detail so this doesn't seem like a cheap, cop-out answer, but Cooper has been very disappointing this season.
Part of it is that he has been frequently played on the wings. It's used to cover up the complete lack of possession offered by Jackson or Fabian Castillo, but he has been mostly ineffective.
He doesn't use his size advantage in any visible way, he is quite slow, and not getting time at the time exposes his lack of versatility. As a lone striker, Cooper can do more damage, but when a better player supplants him he quickly becomes an afterthought. He just doesn't contribute anything that Blas cannot do better.
3) Last week, Raúl Fernández and Jair Benitez were left off the 18 after reports of a schism with the gaffer, forcing Zach Lloyd, fresh off injury, to play poorly at left back. Has Hyndman lost the locker room? (via Sean Spence)
Hyndman has certainly lost the locker room. He might have had it at one point, but his heavy handed approach to those who don't toe the line wears thin after a while, and his lack of tactical acumen must certainly grate on those players who see the team's shortcomings for what they are.
"Schism" and "Hyndman" have become almost synonymous in the years since he has taken charge. The players who have been dispatched under Hyndman have all been valuable additions elsewhere. The most famous one is Dax McCarty, who didn't see eye to eye with Schellas.
The players might like him as a person, but I don't think there's any doubt the team is ready for someone else at the helm.
4) Like more than a few Fire fans, I've lost track of FC Dallas since the middle of the summer, when they were still in the Supporters' Shield race. What the heck happened? (via Sean Spence)
Poor management and some very poor performances from some of our most counted-on players.
When teams keyed in on Michel's weaknesses, Hyndman failed to adjust and kept playing him in various (ineffective) roles. When Castillo continued making the same mistakes over and over, nothing was corrected and possession continued being wasted. When the game called for aggression to try and score, Dallas bunkered in. When Je-Vaughn Watson continued playing incredibly poorly (SO poorly) for long streches of time, he kept getting minutes at the expense of Bobby Warshaw.
There are so many things that went wrong, but about 70% of the blame can be laid at Schellas' feet.
5) Bobby Warshaw, who FC Dallas loaned out to a 2nd division team in Sweden a few months ago, wrote a pretty interesting letter the other week to his hometown paper. Do you think that what he wrote in the letter is just between him and FCD or is it indicative of a larger problem with FC Dallas? (via Mark O'Rourke)
While that issue that Bobby raises might be pertinent to all sports teams, it's a sore spot for most Dallas fans. Schellas has been known for running his preferred XI into the ground. The only time a regular starter is left off the pitch is if he had a falling out with Hyndman, or if he's in an iron lung.
Ebola might also merit a break. Really, any hemorrhagic fever could do the trick. But anything else? On the field you go with a "go get 'em tiger" and nary a care for your stamina.
That approach plays a major role in Bobby's issues with the team.
While Warshaw might not be anything special, he certainly deserved more chances than he got, especially with Watson being the Platonic Ideal of mediocrity. It would be infuriating for most players to see a performance like Watson's and still be consistently benched week in and week out. Many times, Bobby didn't even see the bench.
Warshaw is an incredibly smart man. While there is a case to be made that his ego wrote that article, I think that's doing him a disservice. He makes a legitimate case for his effort not being tangibly rewarded and even those who don't think much of him as a player agree that he didn't get a fair shake.