Time to come out of my self-imposed exile.
The draw against D.C. United was a needed reminder that despite the energy and positivity coach Veljko Paunovic brings to the team, there will be no reason to get too excited about most Fire games this season. There are some young players who could develop and stay like Matt Polster, Jonathan Campbell and Rodrigo Ramos among others. But most of the team is either talent that has reached their ceiling, on the decline or destined for bigger and better in short order (i.e. David Accam.)
It's not the kind of group that will develop together this year, improve next and become a contender down the line. Much of the roster still seems like temporary placeholders for a still unknown vision moving forward. It's a bit disappointing. It's early in the season so not all hope is lost, but the team has already shown it's going to be a hard road ahead, struggling even at home to get victories, winning only one of five at Toyota Park.
That much struggle in front of the home crowd does not do much to inspire confidence or excitement. Add in the complete dismissal of fan favorite Sean Johnson, the trade of still very good and getting better Harry Shipp and continued curse of the DP striker in Gilberto and 2016 already feels like the last couple seasons.
But at least they're not Columbus!
I've come to terms that I will just need to embrace the positive moments when they come, which makes tonight's game against Vancouver one that is difficult to get too excited about. There is not a lot of motivation to sit down for a 9 p.m. start on a weekday to watch the Fire go against a team that is significantly better than them other than the fact they are the Fire and therefore still have my heart and time despite the frustrations.
Here are about the only statistics you need to see to understand what will very likely happen tonight:
|63||Shots on Target||17|
One team tries to score and the other does not or at least cannot. And with no David Accam, who has proven to be pretty much the entire offense, there is little hope for anything less than a thorough domination in possession, shots and goals by Vancouver.
The Whitecaps have not yet found 2015's fantastic form, but have the players to breakout at any time with the likes of Christian Bolanos, Cristian Techera, Pedro Morales, Ocatvio Rivera, Nicolas Mezquida ... well you get the point. The list goes on. They have a lot of firepower. And they rarely lose at home, winning three of four matches.
Despite messages of wanting to play for the win, Chicago has struggled to do so in recent matches, playing especially passive in the last 20 minutes of the home draw against D.C. United. It would be more understandable to play for a draw in Vancouver, but the Fire have three road games in a row. If the goal is to get three points in three matches, the team will be sitting with only 10 points in 10 matches.
Multiple losses on this trip -- which includes a stop in New England Saturday and in Red Bull Arena Wednesday -- would be fairly devastating even early on in the season. If the team can manage a 1-1-1 trip, with New England certainly being a winnable game, it would end the awful road losing streak and get the Fire over the point-per-match pace.
So strap in for a long night. The Fire take the field at 9 p.m. CT on CSN Plus. The game won't be over until 11 p.m., but a hugely surprising victory would go a long way in making the lack of sleep feel a lot better.