When: Sunday October 5th at 7PM CST
Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois
Where to Watch: My50, TWCSC Wisconsin
Hey, What Happened?
We all had a feeling what was going to happen on Thursday when the Fire released their starting lineup - experimentation, again. Yallop tried a 4-2-3-1 formation this time with an emphasis on the full backs getting forward into the attack in order to try to generate some offense after the 4-3-3 formation proved to be toothless this past Sunday. But the results were not much different than last Sunday, as each the Union and Fire looked like non-playoff teams for the first 87 minutes. Then Amobi Okugo latched onto a loose ball in the box to put it past Sean Johnson in the 88th minute. Everything was pointing to a Union win until Rais Mbolhi gifted Robert Earnshaw a poor clearance that eventually led to an Earnshaw chip past the Union keeper, earning the Fire their 17th draw in 30 starts. That's how history was written: Four total shots on target combined by both teams with almost an entire game of lackluster, unmemorable, indifferent, ordinary, and underwhelming play led to the Fire claiming the crown of "King of the Ties". [Tell us how you really feel, Adam! - ed.]
Hey, What's Happening?
This afternoon the Fire host the Montreal Impact in a battle of the ninth- and tenth-place teams in the Eastern Conference. This Impact team has been at the foot of the Eastern Conference almost all season long and has absolutely nothing MLS-related to play for. On the other hand, they still have the CONCACAF Champions League to worry about - they have made it through to the quarterfinals of the CCL and so the rest of this MLS season will probably be used by Frank Klopas to build team chemistry in order to be ready for the next round in the spring. No better way to make sure that players know each other and that you can identify areas that need improvement by playing in games that really don't matter. Same can be said for Frank Yallop and company as they look to just put an end to an uninspiring season and start anew in 2015. In short, enjoy the $2 beers and hot dogs, because this game has as much riding on it as a charity goat rodeo at your local 4-H fair.
Hey, What Should Happen?
Play the kids: So now what? What does Yallop have to gain from the remaining 4 games? I mentioned this in the preview for the Philly game on Thursday - and I hate to repeat myself - but why not play those that are on the bubble for the 2015 roster? Let's see what the likes of Benji Joya, Chris Ritter, and Greg Cochrane can bring to the team. Since Yallop has been experimenting the past two games with formations and players out of position, what is so hard with playing some of the players that Yallop brought in during this season?
Enjoy the opposition: The CF97 ticket-sales team is pushing the idea that, if one is a fan of the game, then one can certainly see quality from the opposition roster, if not the Fire's. If you're the kind of person who finds "at least the other guys have some players you'd want to watch" persuasive, then settle in to enjoy a possible performance from Montreal winger Ignacio Piatti. The Argentine lightning bolt generally starts from the Impact left and works outside-in; his darting runs and calm finishing have created all kinds of space for the other two starters on the Montreal attacking-midfield line - two guys named Dilaver Duka and Justin Mapp!
Scout for 2015: Can the Fire learn to find Harry Shipp's feet in transition, rather than blasting down the wings brainlessly for another doomed cross? Is the Matt Watson/Razvan Cocis tandem a solution for central midfield next year? Does Robert Earnshaw add anything beyond some lovely finishing? What does Florent Sinama-Pongolle bring, beyond tickling the memories of Liverpool fans?
Hey What's Going to Happen?
Two teams with absolutely nothing to play for but pride, what else could people want to see? After the tie versus Philly on Thursday, the Fire need to do something to try to appease a fan base that has seen "just not good enough" all season long. Already wearing a championship belt inscribed "Most Average," what more can the Fire play for?
That's why I'm predicting that we will see a 2-2 draw this afternoon at Toyota Park. Like the rest of the season, this one will see the Fire give up the lead late in the game and not be able to recover; they will settle for the draw. Nothing like adding to a record that would seem never to be broken. Why should this game be any different than the rest of the performances from this season?