Heading into a big matchup Friday night against Chivas USA, I am back with some hat trick goodies. The customary QOTD will appear at the end like usual. I should have a 3 questions exchange up by Friday, as well as a gamethread for Friday night. And yes, I will be lurking on the gamethread (unfortunately had to miss the thread during the Seattle game but I will be along for the ride Friday night). I encourage you to join us. It's one of those "the more, the merrier type of things." Plus Ruben's pictures are pretty funny too. Now that you have that primer for some of the upcoming HTIOT pieces heading into the game Friday night, join me after the break for all the hat trick news that's fit to print...
1. As I am sure most Fire fans are aware, the dust has settled from the post match scuffle last Saturday night vs. the Sounders. Without getting into all the details and re-hashing what we have already discussed here on HTIOT (and again getting into the semantics of the players actions), all punishments have been handed out an in the end, I am content with how it ended. Most of us are just happy to get moving on with things I think. To re-iterate, both Jalil Anibaba and head coach Frank Klopas will miss Friday night's clash with Chivas USA. Check here for more in depth details in case you missed the specific news. With the Fire really needing a big 3 points, the backline, which has been shaky of late, will turn to rookie Austin Berry to tandem with Arne Friedrich at CB. Most MLS pundits tabbed Austin as MLS ready heading into the draft (much as they did for Anibaba last year heading into the draft). We will get to see what Austin has Friday night, and hopefully he can help settle down a backline in front of Sean Johnson that is still trying to find its footing this year.
Fire Assistant Coaches Mike Matkovich and Leo Percovich will take over in Klopas absence. On the flip side, the lone Sounder to receive retribution from the league was Eddie Johnson for an obscene gesture to Fire fans. These two teams are definitely building a negative affinity for one another. It's nice to see the heart, emotion, and fight when these two clubs play, but players also need to be smart and careful too when situations like this occur. Don't get me wrong though, I love the swagger we showed and the fact that we don't back down from anyone. That's part of who we are, we don't fear anyone or anything. With that being said, I think everyone will have learned from this game, and it should make future matches even more exciting to watch, with even more on the line. It's passion like this that has to grow, and can't just be manufactured by declaring you have a rivalry with someone (I am looking at you Sporting KC).
2. Most of you that follow me on Twitter of have interacted with me in some way know I am a die hard Cubs fan. Marco Pappa got the chance to throw out the first pitch yesterday in the White Sox game. I know, I know, unfortunately, it was not a Cubs game, but for those of you not aware of this, I figured it would be good to share anyway. Hopefully the Cubs invite some Fire players to do this soon as well. While a first pitch may seem more of a ceremonial thing (which it is), it is still a pretty big deal for the Fire in my opinion.
Anytime a Fire player is spotlighted at another major Chicago sports event, it can only help the club in terms of recognition, presence, and attention. Sean Johnson tweeted his great seats from the Bulls game last night. If you remember back to when the Fire unveiled their new Quaker jerseys, a handful of were rocking the new jerseys and were strategically sitting behind the Bulls announcers table one night. Obviously, whenever the camera panned to the announcers, you could see the jerseys. Little things like this can go a long way in helping the Fire slowly gain more market share in a very, very crowded Chicago professional sports landscape. All it takes is for someone to ask what team's jersey that is, or to see Marco throw out a first pitch and decide they should catch a Fire game. They come, maybe bring a friend or two, get hooked, and voila, we have another handful of Fire faithful to add to the ever growing army. Appearances like these are really helpful for the club. In the future, hopefully the first pitch is done in a proper ballpark like Wrigley Field though!
3. In what will unfortunately make all Fire fans sad heading into the game, it looks like Chris Rolfe is set to miss another game. Both Orrin Schwarz and Guillermo Rivera mentioned via Twitter that Chris is still not training and will likely miss another game on his road to recovery. I did hear that his walking boot is off, so it would seem the proverbial corner has been turned in his journey back to full health, so there's a least a bit of a silver lining for you.
I know everyone, including myself, is clamoring to see him in Fire red again. I really want to see what our team can do with the new look formation/personnel changes that Rolfe will bring. But, the one big thing to keep in mind here is the grand scheme of things. I would rather have the team take it easy and not rush him back. Sure, that might mean him missing an extra game or two. As agonizing as that is for everyone involved, we need him to be healthy, especially heading into a busy stretch of the schedule. Having that extra week or two of recovery time could be the difference between keeping him healthy and having him out for even more time because he got rushed back. I know it's hard to do, but stay patient folks, his debut should come sooner rather than later.
Question of the Day
The question of the day today is actually coming from Tweed this time around.