All of us here at HTIOT know that Wednesday means Hat Trick and QOTD time (at least most weeks it does). This Wednesday isn't any different, with me bringing you 3 quick points and the a QOTD at the end of the article. Heading into week 4 of MLS play (week 3 if you are a Fire fan), overall I think most of us would agree that the Fire have started off on a positive note. Game 1 brought us a draw in a tough environment, fighting back in the 2nd half to take a point out of Montreal.
Last week saw the Fire shoot out of the gate, taking an early lead against a depleted Philly side. The final scoreline could have been much worse than the final 1-0 tally showed. The Fire had a few good opportunities but got only a lone goal. Still, the Men in Red did enough to take 3 points and some momentum heading into Colorado. If you are like me though, you might enjoy reading the weekly power rankings, especially when they are updated after the weekend games. In most rankings, the Fire have climbed a bit with the results of the past two weeks. Join me after the break for a bit more on these power ranking and the rest of the hat trick and finally the QOTD...
1. Although power rankings are subjective to the person writing them and not an actual indicator of the strength of teams, it's still good to see the Fire moving up the ranks to the top where we belong. Tweed sent me a nice link that does a good job of aggregating some rankings from a few different websites. While Tweed and I take part in the SB Nation power rankings, I thought some of you might like to read where the Fire sit from various different outlets.
Most of them have us in the top 10. Some in the top 8 or even top 6. Both Tweed and I had the Fire at number 6 in our rankings. Needless to say, a win Sunday would push us even further up the rankings. It seems the rest of MLS is finally appreciating what we have put together in Chicago. While the Fire can't take anything for granted, it's nice to see us climbing up the rankings once again. With a few more games under our belt everything should really come together. Colorado will provide a very good test for the Fire. They seem to be in the same 6-12 range Chicago finds itself in.
2. One of the more interesting stories so far this season is young goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi. His progress can't be ignored. The product of the Inter Milan youth system has played beyond his years in Sean Johnson's absence for international duty. Unfortunately, the push for the Olympics ended sooner than Sean or the US U23 team would have liked last night. Sean is returning to the Fire, but as Frank mentioned yesterday, he is going to wait and talk to him when he gets back in Chicago to see how he is feeling ahead of the Rapids game Sunday. One thing is certain, I know Sean will use this adversity to come back better and stronger than ever. I think the sooner Sean can get back in goal the better. However, I could definitely understand Frank giving him a bit of a breather this weekend for him to collect his thoughts if he needs it.
Getting back to Paolo, when the Fire first signed him some of us scratched our heads at using an international spot on somebody projected as "the 3rd string goalkeeper". Well, I am glad to say any doubters were proven sorely wrong. Frank and co. once again showed an eye for talent, and the young Italian has stood tall so far. Beginning with impressive preseason performances and carrying into the first 2 games of MLS play, Paolo has done a wonderful job in Sean's absence. What remains to be seen is how things play out from here. I think Sean certainly has earned the starter spot over the last year, but make no mistake that he will have competition for that role now. Paolo has also shown he deserves some more time too I think competition is good because it makes all individuals involved step up their game. Frank certainly has quite an interesting competition developing. Fun fact: Paolo is I suppose having a top notch goalkeeper like Sean and an up-and-comer like Paolo is a problem any team would like to have.
3. Corben Bone helped lift the Fire reserves to a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake yesterday. Bone put the Fire ahead in the 9th minute, and Jay Nolly came up with some nice saves to preserve the Fire shutout. It sounded like there were quite a few good performances, which is always good to hear. Puppo seemed lively judging from a couple of Fire Twitter updates. One Fire face missing was newcomer Arne Friedrich. Many of us were hoping to see him play, but it would seem he may still not be quite match fit yet. Given the week off of MLS play the Fire have next week, hopefully we will get to see Arne against Houston. It is also possible that we could see Arne in next week's reserve match on April 2nd vs. the Colorado Rapids. I know I can't wait to see Arne out on that pitch.
Nick Fedora should have a piece very soon detailing his interesting and fun experience at the reserve match today. I am really looking forward to Nick's article. Keep an eye out for that one!
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