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Fireside Chat: Montreal v Fire, MLS #23

Sofiane Benzaza of Mount Royal Soccer jumps in to complete the question-and-answer ritual

Perhaps the problem Wednesday was whatever was going on to the players' right during the team photo. I dunno. Your guess is as good as mine.
Perhaps the problem Wednesday was whatever was going on to the players' right during the team photo. I dunno. Your guess is as good as mine.
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

We ask, they answer

HT: Clearly, the addition of new Designated Player Ignacio Piatti means a re-shuffling of the Impact starting XI. How will Piatti co-exist with the other passel of flexible attacking mids (Mapp, Martins, Duka, Romero) on the Montreal roster?

MRS: Others will have to adapt to him if I could state my humble opinion. Playing on the left side as winger/offensive midfielder with San Lorenzo, I do expect Piatti to play in any position on the 4-man offensive line. Felipe was already going to pay the price since Duka joined the club but Piatti's arrival will put the Brazilian on the bench:3; unless he is fielded as a CMF.

Romero, who has been hot this year, might find himself on the bench but Klopas as more depth and will be willing to make quick changes during a game.

HT: Krzysztof Krol is a guy whom many Fire fans felt never got much of a chance to show his worth in Chicago. How's he playing at left back for you? Has he definitively beaten out Eric Miller in that spot?

MRS: Eric Miller seems to be the typical MLS utility player playing different positions. A natural right back, Miller also played in the midfield but that was a short lived experience.

Krol was a tad interesting with athletic abilities and eagerness to defend. but he has quickly disappeared within a team that has been playing pretty bad soccer. Defensively, he is brave but weak. offensively, I am still not sure what to say. He seems allergic to crossing the ball and tends to cut to the middle, which is problematic if one is a left back.

HT: Are there any signs that Jack McInerney is making the most of the time he's got to learn at the feet of Marco di Vaio? Or is there relationship a more traditional competition for playing time, rather than mentor and student?

MRS: McInerney does not seem to be learning that much from Di Vaio. He was already similar to the Italian in style but with the obvious superior athletic abilities. But I'm note sure if Jack Mac has evolved since joining Montréal and one would think that playing alongside Di Vaio would trigger an improvement, hence your question.

I'm not sure of the mentor-student relationship as it does not seem very obvious though both communicate a lot during practice. With horrible results during the season, what can one learn?

Predicted starting XI: Perkins - Camaro, Ferrari, Lefèvre, Krol - Bernier, Larrea - Mapp, Duka, Piatti, - Di Vaio

They ask, we answer

MRS: I don't want to be captain obvious but the Fire has had 13 draws...13!!! Without having to go to each game individually, why so many draws? defensive lapses? lack of finishing? lingering Klopas effect?

HT: The draws are a testament to a team and a roster that isn't quite there. The Fire can look very good for stretches, but they've consistently been undone by little flickers of failure in concentration, particularly in defense. Bakary Soumare is emblematic of this problem, but he's far from the only culprit.

It's not all defense. There was a spate of missed penalties earlier in the season. I wouldn't be shocked to see a rain of frogs or a unexplained locust bloom before the season's out.

MRS: Frank Yallop has had his mea culpa after the 6-0 defeat to the Seattle Sounders in the USOC. How was it perceived by the media and by the fans? Will this hurt the team this weekend and beyond?

HT: I've never seen a Fire team quit before Wednesday night - at the end of that match, several of the Men in Red were clearly just willing the whistle to blow.

I wrote about it using Radiohead's 'Let Down' as a framing device. Key lyrics: "Shell smashed / Juices flowing / Wings dead / Legs are going." In other words, we were crushed.

I'm strangely serene about it. This roster isn't good enough; we've established that already. Big changes had better be in the offing. If they can grind out a playoff berth, hooray? But that better not interrupt the reworking of the roster top-to-bottom - because this group isn't good enough.

MRS: Sell me the Chicago Fire. Is the Amarikwa-Magee duo one of the most dangerous attacking duo in the league while staying underrated? 13 goals combined is not great but what it Yallop trying to do?

HT: What Yallop is trying to do is make it through this season without provoking a massive fan uprising. Oh, you mean on the field. Good then.

What you see from the Fire offensively - when it's working - are a group of quick, intelligent attackers who move into good positions very quickly once the ball is won. Both Magee and Amarikwa can finish if they're allowed to just make runs.

As to what the approach actually is at this point, I'm at a loss to say. Ben Jata said (during Wednesday's Open Cup debacle) that Chicago "looked like a pickup team," and I'm forced, sadly, to agree. No movement, no clear approach, just some guys holding their hands up, wanting the ball played to their feet. It's discouraging.

Prediction: MOAR DRAWS as the Fire score twice, but snooze on DiVaio twice: 2-2.

Lineup (4-2-3-1): Johnson; Cochrane, Larentowicz, Hurtado, Watson; Ritter, Coçiš; Nyassi, Magee, Ward; Amarikwa.

(I'm predicting a HUGE number of changes from Wednesday; any or all of them could be wrong.)