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Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union - MLS #9 - Fireside Chat With Brotherly Game

It's time to dust things off after another bye week and see if I still remember how to do this Fireside chat thing

Drew Hallowell

As the Fire look to put a sour 2-0 loss to the Impact behind them, I took a few moments to compare notes with Justin over at Brotherly Game. The roller coaster ride continued for the Men in Red a couple of weeks ago as the team fell to a good Impact team at Stade Saputo.

The Men in Red are still looking for that goal scorer, as well as consistent midfield play. Results must start coming, as it's still a couple of long months away until that summer transfer window. As always, we will have the full run up to the early Saturday games here at HTIOT. So kick back, relax, and enjoy the Chat.

Hot Time In Old Town Asks Brotherly Game

1. Is Zac MacMath ever going to develop into an MLS-caliber 'keeper? (via James Coston)

The good news is MacMath is young and has time to grow and develop into a quality keeper. The bad news is it has not looked good the past couple years. Despite facing only 105 shots thus far this season, he has conceded 14 goals, 3rd most in MLS. While not every goal can be blamed on MacMath (the midfield leaves lots to be desired), he likes to play over-aggressively and can have adventures in ball-handling. There are games where he does look like he will one day be worth the 1st round pick the Union spent on him, but most of the time I find myself having panic attacks when MacMath is called into action to make a stop or handle the ball. Thus far, I would label his tenure with the Union a disappointment, but his youth makes it not impossible for him to turn it around.

2. Is Jack McInerney the next (insert ridiculously good player name here)? How long before bigger clubs start lining up moves? (via James Coston/John Jenzah)

If I am pessimistic about MacMath, I am just as much optimistic about Jack McInerney. Inside MLS, McInerney has drawn comparisons to Chris Wondolowski. Outside MLS, McInerney been called The American Chicharito due to their similar poaching styles. At only 20-years old, McInerney has really began to impress now that John Hackworth is giving him the playing time Peter Nowak never did. National pundits are already projecting him onto the USMNT. It is incredible that he leads MLS in goals scored at such a young age when no other top 5 goal-scorer is under 25-years old. If he can keep up this goal-scoring pace while developing further, then Jack McInerney will be the next ridiculously good player in MLS. I do not know when bigger clubs will be lining up. I have not seen McInerney connected to any transfer rumors yet and I hope it's years down the road as his emergence has been so fun to watch, but I do not know for sure and in the Union's short history they have been trigger happy in selling players.

3. Do you feel a Bakary Soumare deal is imminent? Is he unhappy in Philly? (via Ryan Sealock)

Bakary Soumare is certainly unhappy, but I do not know if a deal is as imminent as it may have been a week ago. Last weekend against Seattle with Soumare not even on the bench, the Union lost central defender Jeff Parke to a hamstring injury and right back Sheanon Williams to a red card. All of a sudden, the Union are going to need Soumare to join up with Okugo in the central defense while Raymon Gaddis moves to right back and Gabriel Farfan slots into left back. If Soumare is left out of the line-up on Saturday, then a). congratulations on your victory and b). it is confirmation Soumare will not be playing a minute for the Union this season.

Brotherly Games Asks Hot Time In Old Town

1. It's only two months into the season, but the Eastern Conference appears to be tiered with New York, Houston, Kansas City, and Montreal on top, Philadelphia and Columbus in the middle, and New England, Chicago, Toronto, and D.C. on the bottom. Do you believe the Fire can break through that bottom pack and contend for a playoff spot this year?

A month ago my outlook was a bit brighter than now. I haven't packed in 2013 by any means, but the positive run the Fire went on in April didn't continue in Montreal. We have a talented lineup on paper, but a mix of injuries, tactical mistakes, and player under-performance has hurt the team all year. The biggest issue has been struggling to score goals, as no player is coming through to be the guy that can put the team on his back.

Fans are hopeful the team can put a decent run together and try to hang in there until the summer transfer window. We certainly can't afford to dig too deep of a hole. The problem is we don't have much cap space at all to work with, so the front office is going to have to get creative to bring in that much needed scorer, midfield playmaker, or center back.

2. The Union's biggest weakness is the complete inadequacy of their midfield. Do you anticipate the Fire will be able to take advantage of that?

Hopefully we can. The problem is, our midfield has been wildly inconsistent too and has struggled creating at times. If the Fire midfield can carve up the Union center of the pitch, we should be in good shape. Unfortunately that has not happened much this year save the Red Bulls game. One of our biggest weaknesses thus far has been the inability of the midfield to assert themselves and take over a game.

Chicago is a team that has some speed, especially on the wings. We tend to be a counter attacking team, so rather than play directly through the Union midfield, I see us trying to beat Philly down the flanks. However, when we do get the ball in the box and create chances, most of those have not been taken. Something figures to give for one of these teams on Saturday.

3. Who has been the Fire's most valuable player thus far this season?

I would have to say Sean Johnson. Apart from a couple of errors, he has been great in goal. Some losses would have been even worse if not for his intervention. Honestly though, there hasn't been many high notes as of yet. Here's to hoping that turns around sooner rather than later.