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Fire 2, RSL 0: First Thoughts

#cf97’s home opener a rousing success as the Fire bag their first win of the season

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Fire 2 Nikolic 11’, Alvarez 15


  • Pre-match Thought: Here we go, kids. Home opener. New-look midfield. A huge opportunity against a vulnerable team. No backward steps.
  • Pre-match Thought 2: Holy balls it’s cold. Stay safe, everyone!
  • Pre-match Thought 3: The new hype video looks pretty rad. (Then again, I’m partial to bagpipes.)
  • Aaaaaaand we’re off! Fire attacking the Party Deck end. (I don’t know what they call it these days and I refuse to learn.)
  • Look, I know it’s already been five minutes but goddamn this Dax-Juninho partnership looks good.
  • RSL playing very physical right now. I respect it, because The Chicago Way, but leave our guys alone you fiends.
  • For their part the Fire look composed and mostly in control. If they can keep this up we’ll be in a good place.
  • FIRE GOAL! Nikolic picks up a bad backpass, everyone was expecting an offside flag, and Niko basically walks it in. What a gift. What a way to start this season.
  • I mean there was a sense that the Fire would benefit from an inexperienced backline.
  • FIRE GOAL!! Alvarez makes absolute mince-meat of the backline and Rimando can’t keep his footing. Fire up 2-0 inside of 16 minutes. What is this life?
  • I’m really not used to living in the world where the Fire are kinda good. I am having Emotions.
  • We’re gotten noticeably better out of possession too. We lose the ball, we go get it back. I like it. I like it a lot.
  • RSL forced to make an early sub. Jordan Allen forced off thanks to The Chicago Way, replaced by Ricardo Velazco.
  • And they’re trying to get revenge with a two-footed tackle on Accam from behind. Yikes.
  • Section 8 in good voice today. Good turnout in the section too. (Though they might just be huddling together for warmth.)
  • Accam with a counterattack; doesn’t come off, but in fairness, it was 4 on 1.
  • An RSL corner nearly ended up in the back of the net. Yikes.
  • It’s so weird to see RSL having to rely on Route 1 and set pieces while the Fire control possession and apply pressure. It’s like these teams have swapped places from three years ago.
  • Hahahahaha the Fire almost, almost, get a third goal. Niko tries to get a boot on an over-the-top ball from Juninho and doesn’t quite make it.
  • Yeah, wow, our midfield is eating RSL for lunch. What a gift.
  • Accam threatens in first-half stoppage time but Rimando recovers. Aaaaand there’s the HT whistle.
  • Halftime Thoughts: Holy crap. I am not emotionally prepared to live in a world where the Fire are kinda good. Two early goals + some strong work in possession has the Fire in a commanding position heading into the tunnel.
  • More Halftime Thoughts: This, via Matt Doyle, is a good illustration of how much better our midfield is.
  • Second Half is go. Not unlike Thundercats.
  • Not to overstate things but the next 45 minutes are crucial. If the Fire can’t hold on and win this thing it’s going to bode ill for the rest of the season.
  • Rimando just had to come up big to stop Niko from getting his second on the day. Good stuff good stuff.
  • I... only just now noticed that Michael Harrington is sporting a man bun. Oh, buddy.
  • Speaking of questionable decision-making, the Fire’s backline are looking just a liiiiiiittle shaky at the moment.
  • A great 3on3 counter leads to a low ball across the face of goal but Alvarez can’t get there in time.
  • Brandon Vincent just beat three guys on the dribble. What on earth is going on.
  • Although RSL are slowly starting to feel their way back into the game. Fire are holding up pretty well... for now...
  • Yeah, we’re not controlling possession nearly as well. Fire need to focus.
  • RSL getting a few corners in quick succession. Feel like I’ve seen this movie before...
  • Solignac coming on for Alvarez, Chad Barrett (lol) on for Silva.
  • It looks like the Fire are more or less trying to batten down the hatches. I get it, but honestly the best thing they could do right now to defend their lead is to make it bigger.
  • Niko played through but he can’t keep the ball on him in the box.
  • Dax leading a counter but is brought down from behind by Wingert about 20 yards from goal. Fire FK. This could be fun!
  • Oh my gourd Juninho almost makes it 3 but Rimando comes up huge with a diving save. I like all of this. (CK comes up empty.)
  • Less than 10 minutes to go, not counting stoppage time.
  • Bronico in, Niko out. Bronico making his debut with the team.
  • I don’t mean to alarm you but Brandon Vincent nearly scored a goal. I am flabbergasted with this team today. My flabber is thoroughly gasted.
  • The Fire are spending the last few minutes of the game pushing for that third goal. Good. Pressure is the best defense right now. I’m glad to see the Fire have (finally? maybe?) learned that lesson.
  • Two minutes of stoppage time. I know a lot can happen in two minutes but it really seems like the Fire have this locked down. And that’s... a pretty good feeling.
  • Final Whistle Thought: That was fun! We should do this again sometime.

We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community at Hot Time, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.