James Bridget Gordon: I just want to start things off by saying: in most ways I hate this Darkest Timeline we're all living in now, but the Fire being one of the best teams in the league is a surprisingly effective consolation prize.
Alex Picchietti: Top of the table for about 35 minutes. That was awesome.
Sean Spence: Important to remember that we’ve carved a good six points off that lead in six weeks - we’re charging hard at TFC.
John Carollo III: Too bad we can't fight it out for the top spot soon enough. Have to wait until September (I think) to face up against Toronto again.
James Bridget: Just can’t let anyone be happy, can you?
Alex: I just was looking -- I think it's August.
John: Still not soon enough.
Alex: Not gonna lie, I think the way they won that game tells you all you need to know. They were getting absolutely battered and Niko's back there heading balls off the line.
John: need some more reinforcements for the back. Instead we're getting world class attackers.
James Bridget: And as we all know club transfer committees can only ever do one thing at a time.
Alex: Who are you thinking we'd drop out of the back 4?
John: Reinforcements for when they're tired like that. We only really have Campbell as a solid backup. Otherwise we have Harrington who has proven to be bad and Doody who they seem to have something against.
Alex: Even having another solid CDM that could stick in there and at least hold the ball for a bit.
James Bridget: What struck me about the game was something I've noticed in previous games as well-- that we're putting our opponents through the same hell we've been through the past few years.
It used to be us falling behind by one goal in the scoreline, throwing ourselves against a wall to try and get back into it, and not quite making it happen. Look at all the close calls New England managed in the last 5-10 minutes. How unlucky they were not to score. That used to be us.
Alex: Exactly. it was a pretty even game, but we found ways to get ahead. then, when the Revs rev'd it up, we were able to set up shop and frustrate them and get all 3 -- on the road no less.
James Bridget: Against a team that hasn't lost at home since the Eisenhower Administration. (Not really, but it was a Long Ass Time.)
Alex: And let's not forget how absolutely orgasmic our second goal was. Dax with a beautiful pass to Niko, who flicks a ball forward to MDL, who's able to just get a touch on it, a brilliant one at that, onto the boot of Solignac, who takes a touch and slots it home.
James Bridget: So good
Alex: I think 16 games in, it's appropriate to ask this now: would it be a disappointment if the Fire *don't* end the season with some hardware?
Sean: Everything is context, so it would depend how they ended up trophy-less.
James Bridget: Speaking for myself: no.
The Fire are good, but I'm not sure they're MLS Cup Champion material yet. (Although, we might only have Basti for this season, so this is as good a time to mount a title challenge as any.) And as much as I love the USOC, it's a crap shoot. The Fourth Round was a massacre for MLS teams.
I want to talk about Dax a little bit. I think he had a decent game, and there are a number of folks who felt similarly (including Matt Doyle over at MLSSoccer Dot Com). But not everyone was impressed. What do y'all think?
Mike Tooley: I think the only way I would actually be disapointed is if they somehow suddenly dropped out of the playoff race. I don't see that happening though. Silverware would just be a major bonus. I think Dax had a fine game. He might not have had as big of an impact as he typically does but that happens from time to time.
Alex: RE: Dax -- I was thinking about that during the game. On the surface, I think the role he plays doesn't necessarily jump out at you. But I do think he had a positive impact on the game. His defensive positioning, staying in the correct lanes in sync with Juninho and Schweinsteiger. Maybe not his best performance, but I feel what he's asked to do has deeper value than just bombing forward or pinging balls down the wings. And he had 88% passing success, with both his aerials won.
Furthermore, the more the game wore on, it was clear the Fire weren't going to be controlling possession, and would be favoring the counter attack, so I think his role again changed to digging in and defending.
Sean: One of the things I find most exciting, watching this team, is the way they make those kind of decisions (i.e., “welp possession isn’t working, let’s change a bit”) on the field in real time. Dax is a huge part of that. I sorta love the dude.
James Bridget: So we have four more games between now and the Gold Cup break-- Orlando at home next Saturday, away at Cincy in the USOC, at home to Vancouver on 7/1, and away at Portland on 7/5. Of those four games, which are you concerned about most?
Sean: I know I’ll sound like Pauno here, but I’m concerned about every game. My tortured imagination finds a way to worry.
Alex: I'd have to say Portland Away. The Timbers aren't world beaters this season by any stretch, but they're good at home, and even after a few road wins, I don't think we can be expecting 3 points.
James Bridget: In all comps, I'm most concerned about the Cup game. Cincy are surprisingly tough, and I can also see Pauno resting some key guys to focus on the league. There's all the makings for another upset here.
But out of just the MLS games, I'm going to agree with Alex. The Timbers aren't to be trifled with, and Fanendo Adi has been pretty solid so far this season.