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Roundtable: 9-Dimensional Chess

The Hot Time crew digs in to the Fire’s first loss in 3 months, has some fun with portmanteaus, and talks about fan gatekeeping

MLS: Chicago Fire at New York City FC Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

James Bridget Gordon: Alright friendos. Three crap minutes in the second half was all it took for the Fire to lose their first game in three months.

So! What went wrong?

Jack Kelly: The pitch at Yankee Stadium. That's what wrong. It's a very fun place to see a match, but the field is just so small.

James Bridget: They're good ballparks, Brent.

Ruben Tisch: Vincent getting hurt in warmup didn't help ether. But I think it was mostly the pitch. This team likes to move the ball from side to side and wear down defenders. You can't really do that on such a small pitch.

Alex Picchietti: I really thought they were gonna storm back and win 3-2. Firmly believe we're better than that team.

Jack: I'm not usually one to say that a team deserved to win a game when they failed to do so, but the Fire really deserved to win this one.

Jake Payne: I totally agree with that, the Fire are way better than that team, but they just had an off day. Better getting those out of the way now than later.

Alex: Like, it is an away game, against a top team in the standings, so there could be worse games to lose when all is said and done.

James Bridget: I don't know, I keep coming back to those few minutes in the second half when NYC basically won it, and I think the lynchpin there was Lampson sort of regressing to mean

Jack: Hot take inbound: Villa's goal was not that good and Lampson should have saved it.

Mike Tooley: That's not too hot, it was very savable.

Alex: Yeah, it looked like he may have been screened, and maybe someone could have gotten a touch to it, but Lampson still can make that save.

Jack: Lampson, man.

Alex: JBG and I were chatting and imagining what it would be like if we had Johnson with the 10+ in front of him we have now.

Jack: Some games he goes all Hildebrandt. Other games he goes all Sunday-league. If he could consistently be the average of those he'd actually be decent.

And I know... I miss Sean John so much. He was the man.

Mike: Lampson actually made some decent saves in this game as well. He also made some errors as we have noted. What was more worrying for me was the chances NYCFC were creating while being a man down. It was uncharacteristic defending for the Fire this year.

Alex: Great point, Mike.

Jack: I think the Fire are missing the stability that Dax gives us more than ever before.

Alex: Didn't feel like NYCFC were down a man.

Jack: NYRB are feeling the season-long effects of it right now.

Jake: Or maybe New York knew the Fire’s true weakness, that they don’t do well with a man advantage.

Alex: It was a pretty absurd sending off.

Mike: Games tend to be very strange after someone is sent off that early. This one was no different and the Fire don't seem to handle the man advantage well. I agree with Jack that we miss Dax in games like this. I am looking forward to having him back. It is also a bit concerning to see how much Pauno's hands are going to be tied if Polster or Vincent are unavailable.

Sean Spence: I like the idea that Yangel Herrera was on some next-level shit, conspiring to get sent off in order to demotivate the Fire.

James Bridget: Whoa. That's some real 9-dimensional chess right there.

Jake: New strategy for other MLS teams against the Fire. Red cards for wins.

Alex: And two red cards gets you a draw. It works.

James Bridget: "Look kid, we gotta get a win today. You know what to do."

"You got it, coach!" *takes off shirt twice in five minutes*

Alex: He can just say he was being attacked by a swarm of bees if anyone asks.

James Bridget: That’s not totally outside the realm of possibility.

Alex: See? it's foolproof.

James Bridget: What could possibly go wrong?

So, who do y'all think the Fire missed more— Vincent or Dax?

Mike: Obvious answer would be Dax, flat out he is one of if not the most important players in our squad. What makes that question tricky is that the drop in quality when Vincent is out is significant. Having to go without Vincent was not something they were likely prepared for so that made it even more significant.

Ruben: I agree with Mike, It's Dax if we're talking about pure quality. But they were programmed to play without him. Vincent not starting was a huge blow because it was unexpected, and it threw them off their game.

Alex: I third that -- Harrington clearly wasn't ready to play and we were basically playing with 10 men from the 75th min on. He was completely gassed and we had no subs left.

James Bridget: I know sometimes it sounds like we have this aggressive anti-Harrington agenda but I think for the most part we do try to be measured in our assessment of him. But, just. Every time Harrington comes on, this team is demonstrably worse. In fact, the last time the Fire lost, Harrington was in the starting XI.

Correlation isn't causation, BUUUUT.

Jack: How do we feel going to Kansas City next weekend? A normal sized pitch and having Dax back should leave us in good shape against one of the top teams in the West, right?

James Bridget: Do we know for sure Dax will be back though? He's been used as a sub in the knockout rounds but who knows what will happen on Wednesday night. It's possible Pauno will rest him.

Jack: I think if he's fit he'll play at SKC. I'm personally of the mindset that we won't be seeing him on Wednesday—sadly. BUT, I could (and hope I am) be very wrong.

Alex: I hope we see more of Alvarez & Dax back in the team, and less Juninho and Solignac.

James Bridget: It's going to be tough. We're on the road. SKC are 2nd in the West and are running neck-and-neck with Dallas. We don't know whether Dax will be ready. We don't know whether Vincent will be okay. We don't know if any of the All-Star picks will be rested.

My optimistic view? A draw.

Jake: I agree with a draw. Sporting KC hasn’t lost since May 27th. Sure there are a lot of draws in between that but that goes to show this will be a tough match. They also haven't lost at home this season or in the last 20 matches for a funner fact.

Jack: I agree with the Alvarez point, Alex. I think he's been very good when he's on the pitch this season— Solignac has been too inconsistent.

Mike: Tough road games back to back. It would sure be a statement of intent if they were to go to KC and take all three points.

James Bridget: I feel like they've already stated their intent though. A win at SKC would be more like following through.

Sean: I've got a good feeling about Kansas City, if the Fire have the BastiDax combo back. With those two in the lineup, I think we clown the bejesus out of that KC press, and everyone's talking about us as the best in the league again. What they won't say is "the Fire are best in the league if you're stupid enough to try to aggressively press them," which is closer to the truth.

Ruben: BastiDax? Is that like PharMercy?

Sean: I don't know what that is, so you'll have to tell me.

We need a shipping name for those two dammit.

Jake: Daxstian.

Daxstian McCartsteiger.

James Bridget: If we're doing the full midfield trio: Polxtian.

Sean: Wow.

James Bridget: God, I love portmanteaus.

Sean: That's some white hot dude on dude on dude action.

James Bridget: This is what I get for not clearing my browser history.


Jake: It sounds like something you take when you have a disease.

James Bridget: Ask your doctor if Polxtian is right for you.

Sean: Side effects may include a need to swallow, the inability to do so, or death.

Alex: Side effects include suffocation (in midfield), anxiety from constant pressure, and penetration (of your back line).

Sean: Annnnnnnnd scene.

James Bridget: Well done, team

Alex: Not sure what just happened, I blacked out.

Sean: <round of high-fives>

James Bridget: So I want to close with something a little off-topic.

Last week A Certain Segment Of The Fire Fanbase got all up in our Twitter mentions seeming to suggest that being a fan of another team precludes being a fan of the Fire. Or at the very least, it makes it hard to adequately write and report about the Fire.

I think that's bullshit. But I wanted to see where you all land on this question.

Does being a fan of another team interfere with your support for the Fire?

Jack: Another MLS side, or another team period?

Alex: Meaning another MLS side?

James Bridget: Any team.

Jake: That's not true at all. I like FC Köln a lot, that doesn't make me any less able to write on the Fire. Actually saying I like them is a total understatement.

Jack: Oh that's total bullshit.

Jake: LOL is all you can say to that.

Mike: At this point bad-talking is just second nature for the #cf97 twitterverse.

Ruben: It's fine as long as they're not in the same division. Especially if there's no pro/rel.

James Bridget: It’s worth noting that this is coming from a group of fans that aren’t happy with Sean and want him out. (Initially, they weren’t happy with me and wanted me out, and when Sean wouldn’t fire me they decided they wanted him out too.) But also, I think that particular section of the fanbase spends a lot of time arguing over who's a Real Fan and who isn't. "If you're not [whatever my particular standard is], you're not Fire."

Jake: #SeanAndJamesOut

James Bridget: And I'm not saying this to call people out or be defensive or anything. We're all fans, but we're also a media organization. So, as fans I think it's important to engage with this particular debate among Fire supporters, and as a media organization we're accountable to our readers.

We don't have a dedicated Public Editor a la Liz Spayd at the New York Times, but I think it's worthwhile to address concerns from readers. That's why I'm bringing this up.

Mike: I think that first part is absolutely true about the debate on who is a true fan. It's convenient for everyone to debate now that the team is good again and gaining new supporters.

James Bridget: I think this debate has been going on for a while now among Fire supporters. In previous years when the team was awful, the discourse boiled down to "if you give up on the team now you're not a real fan and don't you dare try to come back when they're good again," along with a bit of posturing for sticking around when they sucked (even as they complained). And now these same people are all, "ugh, look at all the BANDWAGONERS."

Sean: I get it from both directions. Of course we are Enemies of the Fire whenever we express any kind of dissatisfaction- but also increasingly we're Andy and N-Rod's Stooges whenever we accept the evidence of our senses this season.

On DCFC: I am a season ticket holder, as is my wife. We're part of Northern Guard, the smoke, the swearing, all that. I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone who loves football. Annnnnd we're done there, unless anyone has questions.

Ruben: I've never seen the Stooges bit. Is that something people say? To us? The outlet that had our credentials pulled?

It's lunacy.

James Bridget: It's really weird to see some of the #HauptmanOut crowd defend the front office for revoking our press access, just because they don’t like us. (Or at least, don’t like Sean and/or me.) Principles!

Anyway, since we've all revealed ourselves to be Enemies Of The Fire, let's close out by naming what other clubs we're fans of.

I'll start: AFC Wimbledon, Liverpool, & Borussia Dortmund.

Ruben: The Boys and Girls Club.

The Mickey Mouse Club.

Costco Wholesale Club.

James Bridget: Aw man Costco is so good.

Ruben: (Arsenal, Schalke 04, and Juve.)

Jake: FC Köln.

Jack: Arsenal. Arsenal. Arsenal.

Ruben: YEAH!

James Bridget: Meh.

Alex: Newcastle United.

Ruben: I also really enjoy Cog Hill Country Club.

Also the Mather High School Anime/Gamers Club, which I helped form.

James Bridget: Sometimes I don't even know who you are anymore, Ruben.


James Bridget: smh