That's what they mean by the love that passeth understanding: that pride, that furious desire to hide that abject nakedness which we bring here with us, [& ...] carry stubbornly and furiously with us into the earth again.
When the final whistle blew, when the boos rained down (again), when the glum interviews began (again), when the most fervent supporters packed up their pirate flags and black banners and trudged home, the sad fact is that there was little surprising about the Chicago Fire losing 1-0 to Orlando City. These Fire have made being second-best a sort of heartbreaking art form, somehow playing well enough to keep the prospect of a turnaround a tantalizing possibility, all the while putting up results which suggest that their furious desire to appear competitive cannot hide the abject, naked truth: 2015's worst MLS side.
Of course the Men in Red created more chances - don't they do that every game? Of course they surrendered a goal in the dying minutes - don't they do that every game? Of course they fell further from contention - don't they okay I'm already sick of using this parallelism, as it could continue essentially forever. Given eternity in which to play football, these Fire would lose by infinity.
Would they be entertaining in so doing? Sure, sometimes. This roster isn't good enough, but its constituent parts - arranged differently - might be another matter entirely. David Accam's blistering pace isn't a surprise anymore, but its effect upon opposition defenses does not rely upon surprise, stretching them deep and wide whatever their preparation, opening up chasms for midfielders to walk into. Accam's burst forward in the 60th created a lane for Razvan Cocis, for example; after an hour of trying, Orlando City had no answer, but Cocis' shot was turned out for a corner by City keeper Tally Hall.
Do the same exercise for Mikey Stephens, for Harry Shipp, for Kennedy Igboananike, for Matt Polster, for Joevin Jones, and you'll be left wondering how this group wound up setting a Fire record for losses with five games still to play. Then one watches the final five minutes - the tired Cocis giveaway, the lightning counter that passed through the feet of the Lion's three substitutes en route to the back of Jon Busch's net - and understands: Chicago were just bested at home, by an expansion team playing without its transcendent star, to remain 20th on the combined table.
No amount of furious hiding will change the abject nakedness of the 2015 Men in Red. The loss was the 16th of the season, setting a Fire record for losses in an MLS campaign. The Men in Red return to action Wednesday in Montreal.