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Chicago 3, New England 0: First Thoughts

Fire out-think, out-fight 10-man Revs for second straight home win

MLS: New England Revolution at Chicago Fire
Yeaaaaaaaah, Basti! Yeah. More like this, Fires.
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
  • So the Fire are playing a 4-3-3 with de Leeuw and Solignac on the wings, and the Revs are playing a 4-4-2 diamond? Holy f--k the center of the field will be crowded.
  • Without Accam, the Fire don’t have the pace to run simple dump-and-chase - but a midfield of Basti/Juni/Dax should make that particular stratagem a relative rarity. That’s the hope, anyway. I’m looking to see if the Fire combine more effectively and move with more fluidity while in stable possession with this lineup, since those are things that David’s presence doesn’t usually help with much.
  • I gotta say that the Revs central defense, in prospect, looks easier to get into that a community college. If the Fire can’t put double-digit shots on frame this game, I’m scratching my head a little.
  • The bench today looks a whole lot better than early in the season - I mean, leaving aside Lampson, it’s Accam, Alvarez, Polster, Campbell, Johnson and Conner. All have definite roles and can bring a change to the game.
  • Fire hyping the OPTA stat that they’ve gotten points on 15 of last 16 home games. Good job not losing at home all the time any more, fellas!


3- Basti ‘megs Kouassi who knocks him down immediately, and it’s not called because it’s not? Ok.

4- What’s up with Juninho? Looks a step slow again, getting beat to second balls and out-fought when coming to the ball

8- Joao Meira with a diving intervention to keep Agudelo off the scoreboard. NE trying to capitalize on a deep turnover on Fire right wing. Woof, that was close. Fortunately Nguyen’s corner is shit.

12- Fire combining on a good counter - Solignac wins ball and backheels to McCarty, who spreads it to Basti, who sprays it first time to the right wing for Soli. His cross is kinda crazy, but de Leeuw manages to volley it after a bounce, but well high

13- Soli gets blasted in the face with the ball, and play stops to make certain he’s not concussed, which is how it should be.

15- I should mention that the wind is freaking howling toward the New England goal in this first half. Fire will have it in their faces after halftime

18- Gotta say that I love the Ghana and Netherlands flags flying in front of Section 8

19- Fire playing brainteaser in this possession, trying to find holes to exploit. Juni drops to left and waves Vincent forward, while Basti drops very deep to drag Kouassi with him


Men in Red’s tactical brain-freeze pays immediate dividends as Soli’s cross is flicked goalward by Nikolic, but de Leeuw is just in before the touch (actually I have the names wrong but the game goes on)

22- Watson, who has started getting torched pretty regularly by Solignac, loses the ball to him and responds with an elbow for the first yellow card of the game. FK looped to back stick and dumped out for corner by NE

24- Bava takes a touch with Kamara and Agudelo less than 5 yards away. He gets it out to McCarty, but now I need new pants. Thanks, Jorge

27- Je-Vaughn Watson gonna Je-Vaughn Watson, as he picks up a second yellow 40 yards from goal with Solignac’s back to him. Solignac somehow resists the temptation to claim Watson’s scalp before he stomps off to the locker room. Rowe will move to LB and the Fire now have a massive advantage in midfield. Let’s have some joy, lads!

29- Basti feeds Juninho for a blast from 20 that trickles just wide of the back post. Please, guys, please … I really, really don’t want to go to halftime scoreless

33- Wind seems to be shifting around, making long passes an interesting prospect. Basti straight-up catches a switch that’s sailing well into touch

35- C’mon, guys, this sucks. Since we went up a man, we’re playing soooo slowly, taking two and three touches despite no pressure. The Bad Old Fire would cough up a goal against the run of play before halftime - let’s not be those guys. Please? Pretty please?

38 - Long possession ends with Juninho trying one under zero pressure from 30, sails high and wide. Revs collapsing very deep defensively

39- I guess the drugs are finally kicking in, because it sounds like Tenorio is saying that Fire are switching to 4-4-2 diamond with Basti at the 10? So Solignac is now a midfield shuttler? Dude, that’s crazy

41- Basti tries to get a call against Rowe in the area, but the ref’s not willing to gift-wrap this game for us at this point

43- Solignac again on the right looking very good. Beats Rowe to a through ball, takes a foul (not called) and keeps going, finally dropping to de Leeuw instead of finding Nikolic’s run. Bad idea at the end, but the run was good stuff, and it’s just lovely to see a guy trying to make something happen out there


Basti clever run into right channel from his new spot atop the diamond, showing me I’m a punk. Solignac, continuing his great first half, slides a ball into the channel. The CBs are occupied with de Leeuw and Niko, so he’s able to run onto it and finish from a sharp angle!

Annd peep peep, it’s halftime. Fire are up a man and a goal, and have had the ball for three-quarters of the game. Either these drugs are amazing or this team is pretty decent. I’m curious what Jay Heaps is going to try to change the tenor of the game, because this looks (at this point) like it’s going to become a complete beatdown in the second half.

47- Fire’s first possession is a good one! Solignac’s cross is turned on goal by de Leeuw, it’s saved but Nikolic swoops in to hammer it home: 2-0, FIRE

New England nearly made it to halftime without surrendering a goal after the red card, but a goal 30 seconds before the half and 90 seconds after has blown this one open.

50- NE plays route one and Agudelo wins it before Dax arrives to force a corner. Dax IS NOT happy with the lack of help on the defensive end on that play, and does the captain thing, expressing his feelings.

57- Heaps pulls Agudelo and puts Teirney in at left back

60- DJ getting a full half-hour in relief of de Leeuw. In Football Manager, it’d be time for the ‘There’s spots on the field to be won - show me something!’ pep talk

I’m currently struggling with the feeling this game is in the bag. Somehow, I’m certain that as soon as I relax, the Bad Old Fire will show up again and cough up two goals. Stay away, Bad Old Fire!

65- DJ lovely through ball for Niko, but no support ends the attack

66- NE last sub is Bunbury for Kamara. Teal Bunbury, the man who brushed off the Canada national team only to have the USA say, “Ehh, let’s stay friends.”

72- Accam for Soli as the Fire sharpen up their knives to take a whack at goal difference

73- Ding ding ding! Accam’s pace opens up the game on the break, pulling away from Smith and laying in a perfect through ball for Niko to run onto and finish. It’s 3-0 and this could get ugly.

PLEASE, OH PLEASE LET IT GET UGLY! I’m down for cheering a curb-stomping today

77- Woof, Kappelhof goes very hard through Rowe to really earn the Fire’s first yellow today. FK NE 30 yards straight away, and they golf it out of bounds. The Revs really are ‘So Fire’ today

78- Conner for Harrington at right back! Great to see both kids getting decent amount of run today

84- Game’s gotten a little stultifying. Still, I’m enjoying the little things, like DJ cleaning up a midfield scramble with a dismissive outside-of-the-foot touch to Conner

85- DJ puts on a little dazzler clinic in the area but his near-post shot is well wide

89- Basti with a ‘well, why not?’ effort that rattles the seats behind goal

91- David’s ready to fight Kelyn Rowe, which makes him the 1000th MLS player to feel that way! Congratulations, David, here’s your commemorative watch for the occasion.

THAT was fun! Let’s do this about 27 more times, yeah?