Chicago 2 Schweinsteiger 17’, Solignac 90+3’
Montreal 2 Mancosu 61’, Tabla 90’
It’s been almost two weeks since the Fire had announced they snagged Bastian Schweinsteiger and only a few days since his arrival and introductory press conference. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about expectations. What can Schweini do for us? What can’t he do? How much better should this team be with him in it?
I don’t want to speak on behalf of all Fire fans— not least because my level of cynicism and burnout never quite manages to match that of the fanbase as a whole, it’s always either much bigger or way smaller— but seeing the former Bayern Munich and Germany captain in a Fire shirt was... jarring. Definitely a Good Weird, but also definitely Weird. There have been a few times over the past couple of years where I feel like I stumbled into an alternate universe and this was absolutely one of them. It makes trying to set expectations difficult because I don’t really have a context for this. It’s just so entirely out of left field.
But this isn’t a dream— I woke up from a nap shortly before kickoff and had to make absolutely sure of that— and it’s worth asking what we expect to happen here. Schweinsteiger’s debut in a Fire shirt was pretty solid— he communicated with teammates, helped apply pressure and direct the play, he helped keep the midfield together when Juninho was sent off (more on that in a bit), and, crucially, he scored his first goal in the opening 20-ish minutes. It was about as strong a debut as one could expect.
The problem is we’re still the Fire. And while we’re probably better now than we have been in years, we still have some glaring weaknesses. Matteo Mancosu canceled out Basti’s goal as the Fire meekly surrendered their lead and then Michael Harrington and Jorge Bava conspired to nearly piss the game away late on as they gifted a go-ahead goal to Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla. We’re a stronger and more confident team, sure, but we’re also still the team that falls asleep late and makes stupid, stupid mistakes.
Thanks goodness for Luis Solignac, I suppose. The Argentine super-sub somehow, somehow managed to grab an equalizer in stoppage time and salvage something from this game. It’s obviously better to have the point than to not have it.
It’s hard not to think this should’ve been a win. A comfortable win, even. Montreal were there for the taking and we almost let them leave with all three points. We should’ve done better. We should be expecting more.
From the team, at least. Basti did as much as he could, and probably a little more. The team should’ve done better for him. I can only imagine what he’s thinking about right now, but I bet he’s starting to think about how big of a job he may have ahead of him.