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Roundtable: Soldiering On

The Hot Time crew talks SKC, mean regression, and the MLS All-Star Game

MLS: MLS All-Star Training Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

James Bridget Gordon: Happy Monday. y'all. The Fire crashed and burned (no pun intended) in Kansas City 3-2 on Saturday. The score probably flattered Chicago a bit. And now we're on a two-game losing streak at a time when our Eastern Conference rivals very much have their shit together.

So what's going on here? Is this just a slump? Or a regression to mean?

Jack Kelly: I think that it's just a slump. Every team (except TFC, it seems) goes through one or two of them during an MLS season. Thankfully for Chicago, we have plenty of matches against teams like D.C. United and New England left on the schedule. The All-Star "break" should be good for the Fire, as the players get to enjoy themselves and have a couple days off in the middle of the week.

James Bridget: lol I feel bad for MLS teams, they have to play this weekend and next weekend and also have to let their best players go for a midweek friendly.

I'm actually pretty hype for the All-Star Game this year. The logistics still kinda suck.

Jack: Logistics are sub-optimal for sure.

James Bridget: But getting back to SKC— what went wrong?

Jack: I think that other teams are starting to figure the Fire out. Niko has had zero space to breath in the last two weeks and Chicago needs to find a way to play into the final third not through him.

Jake Payne: It was a combination of SKC making their home a fortress AND realizing maybe the Fire arent the best at defending.

James Bridget: How are we feeling about the back line at the moment? We all knew Vincent was a big part of the team but I don't think any of us thought he'd be indispensable. But he's been out for two games and we lost both of them.

Jake: It definitely needs work. Its very apparent that hes out right now. A lot of the attack has gone to his side. They're going to have to figure out how to cover his absence better.

James Bridget: Thoughts on Patrick Doody at fullback? It's a lot to ask someone like him to plug such a huge hole in our defense, but what do y'all think of his performance at SKC?

Jack: Doody was very average. Wasn't awful but wasn't great. This was also a sort of trial-by-fire (pun intended) match. The Cauldron is one of the more hostile environments in the league.

Jack: <looks around>


Play three in the back.

<runs for the hills>

Alex Picchietti: Campbell, Meira, Kappelhof? I'm down.

Jack: It's actually such a solid back three

Jake: I mean pretty much that. It seems like just a mid season slide that can happen with some teams.

Alex: Then should we go 2-3 or 3-2 in the front?

Jack: I think a 3-5-2 would work.

Polster and Doody on the wings. Dax and Schweinsteiger in at DM. MDL playing in front of them. Accam and Niko up top.


Lampson in goal.

James Bridget: Yeah, speaking of: at one point does Lamp become a legit liability? Because I think we're getting there.

Jake: I think the less sure defense is exposing him a bit. He probably isn't the best keeper to have when youre figuring out your back line. He HAS to improve either way.

James Bridget: Predictions for Saturday?

Jake: 2-2 draw.

Alex: Fire win, 2-1.

James Bridget: I'm... going to go with a win, either 2-1 or 3-2 or something along those lines.

Alright, let's talk a little bit about the All-Star Game. Tomorrow night, Soldier Field, Real Madrid vs Pauno's MLS Best XI. I'm usually pretty meh on the ASG but I gotta say, having it in Chicago this year has got me het up for it.

How are y'all feeling?

Jake: I'm going to it, I'm pretty excited. I still haven’t seen a soccer game at Soldier Field yet. It'll also be cool seeing Real Madrid in person. Even if Ronaldo will be in court or wherever hell be

James Bridget: For real tho. At least we'll have Bale? Or something?

Jake: I don’t know who is playing for Real Madrid. Maybe their roster from Miami?

James Bridget: I would imagine so.

And, I mean, it's a friendly. The result doesn't matter. It's a good advert for the league and having it here in Chicago gives the Fire some political capital among MLS brass, something they've been short on the past few years.

Plus this city is fucking great and I like it when other people get to see how great it is.

Alex: Yeah, it should be a lot of fun, nice to have the eyes on Chicago and highlighting the success the Fire have had so far. Also, hoping that the Soldier Field pitch will stay in tact. I know that's always been a sore subject.

Ruben Tisch: The All Star game is worthless trash and shouldn't exist.

James Bridget: I was waiting for that lol

Jake: Nothing would get that Soldier Field grass to a higher quality than Gareth Bale tearing an ACL on it.

Mike: I kind of agree with Ruben, I dislike the MLS All-Star Game and each sports’ version of their All-Star Game.... but I am going to the game so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

Ruben: At least the other All-Star Games (save the NFL) are strategically placed to give teams a breather during the middle of the season. The MLS ASG is just plopped in during a Wednesday in between games.

Mike: True, they come with a break in play. But in general they are all nonsense to me. I'll just say if it wasn't in Chicago I wouldn't be going or have an interest in watching it.

Jake: I think its pretty useful to the visibility of the league that they play big international teams though.

James Bridget: The lack of a break isn't great, I'll agree.

Ruben: It puts MLS on the level of other leagues that put together select teams. Also league visibility isn't a problem anymore.

James Bridget: We found it! We found the league! Huzzah!

Ruben: lol

Mike: Yea, I think it would be more worthwhile for individual MLS teams to play friendlies against European clubs but our calendars don't really align. This is just a $ thing for MLS and a way for them to throw out their popular players onto the field at the same time.

Jake: For people in America who only follow the Premier League and La Liga (and we all know at least one person) it does help with getting them to at least take it seriously or show them the kind of product it creates. And I'm sure it helps with at least a possibility of international exposure.

James Bridget: Also I'm not sure an individual MLS team having a friendly against a European team helps them out that much, except maybe with gate revenue. I think they'd be a bigger boost for NASL teams at this point.

Also it doesn't help that the ICC isn't inviting MLS teams anymore, apparently. So now teams + the league have to organize those friendlies on their own.

Mike: I'd rather watch the Fire play Real Madrid than a bunch of guys from MLS who will only play together once per year.

Ruben: That's like going from living next to the landfill to living next to the water treatment plant.

James Bridget: On the one hand, I totally get why y'all are in "ugh do we have to" mode with the ASG.

OTOH, I'm really surprised at how often I'm the cheerful optimistic one around here.

Jake: I really like the MLS All-Star game. I wish it fit in the schedule better, but it’s just the timing of the seasons that aren’t great.

James Bridget: Also, just a disclosure for our readers: I've been doing some paid work for MLS this summer, including a few posts that coincided with All-Star Week. My thoughts here are genuine, but you should be aware of my ties to MLS/SUM here.

Ruben: It's about Ethics in unpaid soccer journalism! (Sorry)

James Bridget: Funny thing is, those accusations that Ted Westervelt threw at me ultimately did come true. I'm a filthy SJW and a shill for MLS/SUM.

Ruben: Tuck Fed.

Jake: Who in the world is that lol

James Bridget: ... you don't want to know.

Jake: I did a quick Google search that I kind of regret.

James Bridget: Regret is a common feeling when it comes to Ted.

So, uh. Do we want to do predictions? Again, the result doesn't really matter.

Jake: Real Madrid 4, MLS 1.

James Bridget: Woof.

Ruben: Real Madrid some integer, MLS a different integer.

James Bridget: That's the hottest take of the day. No floating number, just hard integers. Bold.

Mike: Ronaldo parachutes down to the field after fleeing Spain and scores a stoppage time winner. MLS All-Stars never recovers from the late blunder. It goes down in the history books.



Jake: Chicago Bears play the second half and somehow beat Real Madrid.

James Bridget: Pffft with the current state of the Bears I wouldn't bet on them to beat Aldershot Town.

Ruben: They've also only been in training camp for like 3 days.

Jake: Connor Barth turns out to be a free kick wizard. Signed by Columbus Crew.

James Bridget: Sports were a mistake tbh.

Ruben: Nah.