The Chicago Fire have started the season on a sour note. LA Galaxy gave them a 4-0 drubbing last Sunday. Just 6 days later, the New England Revolution spoiled the Fire's home opener with a 1-0 victory. It was the Revolution's first regular season victory at Toyota Park since 2006. On-field play has given Fire fans little optimism as the team remains goalless in 2013 and looks utterly lost in the attack.
Hot Time In Old Town has discovered the reason for the terrible play is one big misunderstanding that dates back to a meeting in pre-season.
"[Chicago Fire head coach] Frank [Klopas] brought in this high-priced Australian consultant to sit down with us new guys and go over the new marketing slogan," said new defensive midfielder Jeff Larentowicz.
"Exactly," expanded recently acquired midfielder Joel Lindpere, "and Australians have that annoying habit of finishing all their sentences in a tone that makes it seem like they just asked a question".
It turns out the Aussie consultant Max Dundee is to blame for many Men in Red believing the new slogan for Fire fans and players alike was the question 'This is Soccer?', and not the declarative 'This is Soccer'.
23 year-old winger Dilly Duka cracked the code as he was leaving Toyota Park following the 1-0 defeat on Saturday.
"I didn't see 'This is Soccer' in print until I was leaving Toyota Park and saw a discarded program on the ground," said Duka. "I picked it up and ran over to Joel [Lindpere] - 'Joel, man, there's no question mark. This IS soccer".
Duka and Lindpere went over to share their discovery with Yazid Atouba but immediately remembered that Atouba doesn't speak English.
"It really put Z's [Atouba's] play in the last two games into context," remarked the 31 year-old Estonian Lindpere.
Duka reminded Lindpere to seek clarification from Max Dundee because it was Dundee that told Lindpere he should 'attack?' in the midfield. Lindpere responded, "I bet it's the same deal. I should 'attack' and not 'attack?', as in esoterically try to move forward but not quite enough as to constantly be questioning the very nature of what attacking means."
The 'This is Soccer?' misconception went beyond the players. New Chicago Fire broadcast commentator and analyst Kevin Egan was confused as well.
"I heard the guys chanting 'This is Soccer? This is Soccer?' before the game and then I saw Sherjill MacDonald and Juan Toja kick the ball over the crossbar on Saturday," the Irish native Egan said. "I thought, 'did they hire me to talk about Gaelic football?". Egan then added, "Oh wait, that's just how they play? Jesus, Mary, and Joseph."
Long-time Chicago player Patrick Nyarko defended anyone confused by the meaning. "Right now, the organization has a marketing campaign that involves almost no budget of any kind. You can't blame the players. Almost no one has actually seen 'This is Soccer' in print."
Hot Time In Old Town's very own Sean Spence is rethinking his Words About Shapes series. "When I came up with the title, I thought the Fire were challenging the very meaning of soccer and taking on some hybrid of art and sport. In some ways, it's disappointing because I think they were really getting somewhere very far from soccer and you just don't see that too often in MLS these days. The shapes and formations were becoming Picassoesque. It was horrifying in a beautiful, ground-breaking sort of way."
At press time, Bleacher Report's Dexter McCerty was eagerly adding the situation to his Top 10 Misunderstandings of the MLS Season Week 1 to Week 3. Also included were the scheduling of the Chicago Fire for any game in MLS Rivalry Week and Chivas USA's own slogan confusion over 'This is Mexico?'.