CHICAGO FIRE 1 (Accam 77)
MINNESOTA UNITED 2 (Danladi 36, 45)
In place of writing an actual game story - because I’m not willing to work harder than the Fire, for fuck’s sake - reproduced here are my live notes as the Men in Red lost their SIXTH GAME in SEVEN, this time AT HOME to a fucking EXPANSION TEAM.
I’d say ‘Enjoy,’ but that’s not fuckin’ likely. Consider this a ‘create-your-own-narrative’ game, if you care to play along:
Fire have lost 5 of 6 since the Gold Cup break. Injuries have decimated the defense, with 3 of 4 starters missing most of August, and the balance of the team has come undone. Against Toronto, Basti was drafted into defense as a libero; calling him a ‘sweeper’ misses the point, which is that Basti had complete freedom to wander about the field in an effort to create overloads or find space - it worked in the first half, when the Fire created a host of half-chances they couldn’t finish, didn’t in the second, as Toronto worked hard to pin Basti centrally through early pressure
FIRE XI - Lampson; Doody, Dean, Kappelhof, Conner; Mihalovic, Schweinsteiger, McCarty; Solignac, Nikolic, Accam
Subs: Cleveland, Harrington, Campbell, Juninho, Alvarez, De Leeuw, Arshakyan
Campbell, Juninho still on the outs. Is Juninho hurt? He looks to me like he’s carrying a foot injury - every aspect of his game is off a tick. I’ll be interested to see if Dean can continue to improve. And there’s Mihalovic … talk around the team is that some experienced players are miffed about the minutes the kid is getting, since he hasn’t shown much in the minutes he’s gotten. Drew’s a known quantity at this point; starting him merely means that Matt’s not ready yet. Dean’s a left-footed centerback, and ohbytheway he’s a 6-foot-3 dude who can run like the wind, so if he can continue to progress … these ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ are also how the previous three management regimes came to ill fortune.
I don’t know why they insist on showing Accam on the right. Of course Solignac is going to run 11 miles on the right while David poaches and pries inward from the left.
Opening graphic: Chicago 10-1-1 +24 at home, Minnesota 0-8-2 -17 and all I can think is TRAAAAP GAAAAAAAME.
I’m looking at the Minnesota lineup and Ethan Finlay, of course, draws the eye. He’s killed us soooo many times with the Crew. Molino-Nicholson-Danladi complete the attacking four; interested to see if Molino can distinguish himself at all, as I know he cost a lot of money for both Orlando and Minnesota and I’ve never seen him do shit.
2- Conner chest-traps it to Basti, and he spazzes and loses possession? What the actual fuck?
Kappelhof’s crossing is a really great argument for keeping him in the middle. He flares out wide after Conner breaks forward, and it’s yeeeeeeesh
Minnesota looking competent, which surprises me a little. I expected to see all these unmarked runs and shit. My god, these guys are actual professionals? DAMN IT
Conner’s super clever in the early going, playing high on the right and keeping the ball in interesting ways
Solignac 1-pass break finds him in the right channel, but his attempt to cross is blocked because he just banged it right into the fuckin’ guy as if hoping he would vanish momentarily to allow the ball through
8- Fire’s first really good break comes as Basti runs onto ball, feeds Accam who gives to Niko who looks for Soli whose shot isn’t on
What is narrative? What is truth? The Fire are suddenly struggling to get through withering high pressure from MU AT HOME. This is the kind of shit they ate for lunch two months ago
As I write that, Basti moves into a vacated channel spot and slides a through ball for Niko, who gives (again?) to Mihalovic whose shot is blocked.
13- Soli handles a long switch into the area and cuts a ball back to Niko, who tries to find the angle to the back post without success
16- Niko’s ego getting the best of him as he lets it rip from 25 yards and wow is it not close. Not pressured, just a crap shot
Basti looking frustrated. Ignores Niko showing, gestures Doody forward but leaves the pass out too far for
18- Niko with a good look in transition, winds up hard but keeper equal to it.
20- GM shot ricochets off Cronin’s head and there’s a brief stoppage
21- Fire finding it easy in transition right now - Soli knockdown header sets up Dax for a half-volley he skies the living fuck out of. In response, he pulls his hair into Full Heat Miser Configuration, which is a fantastic compensatory move
23- MN breaks down the left after a little giveaway and Dean tackles the ball out for United’s first corner, I think. It’s absolutely bonkers, a deep corner that takes forever to come down
26- After some blergish play, Fire get a corner and Dean (I think?) heads it over the bar. Good look, though, and well-found by Dgeordge Mihalodgovicdg
34- Cronin apparently was pretty shaken up, as he’s subbed out for Collen Warner
35- Basti large swinging cross has keeper out and flapping but no joy; Accam runs it down and Fire cycle through possession but last pass is lacking
36 MINNESOTA LEAD AND IT IS OFFICIALLY TIME TO FREAK THE FUCK OUT FREAK THE FUCK OUT FREAK THE FUCK OUT
Finley gets a ball on the right that he golfs in dutifully toward Danladi, but Kappelhof’s fucking SLIDE CLEARANCE shockingly lacks direction and falls right back to Finley, now behind the defensive line and basically alone expect for Danladi sliding over to the spot. Finlay gives to Danladi who roofs it past stranded Lampson, 0-1 and IT IS ALL CRUMBLING NELSON
42- Conner either gets muscled off the ball or dribbles out of bounds, depending on how you see it, but either way possession changes hands
43- Mihal cross from channel gets pinballed around area and out for a corner that comes to little
45- Jesus. Fucking. Christ. MU with a quick little break down the right wing, finding Doody way upfield - cross comes to Danladi who lays out a little to roof it again, and WE ARE IN THE FUCKING SHIT Y’ALL
FIYERRRRRR FIYERRRRRRRR there’s a rot at the heart of this teeeeam
HT sub - Campbell for Dean, De Leeuw for Mihalovic - yikes, obv not happy
Fire a little scrambly right off the start of the half
48- Basti really pressing the issue, slanting run into right channel and skids a flicked off-step shot on goal; accam lays out going for the rebound but it’s cleared
50- Fire really turning the screws in possession, camped deep in MU territory. Accam’s attempt to curl one to the back post goes a foot wide.
52- Basti turns the ball over again. I have a feeling we are seeing what the ‘he’s done, physically’ crowd were on about right now - or as replay shows, he was fouled dancing between two defenders so what the fuck do I know. And now there’s a stoppage because Kappelhof tackled Danladi and he’s hurting
Fire looking a little desperate and silly right now. They are getting most of possession but the cool control of the earlier season is completely missing. Basti flopping in the 57th adds indignity to the wound of defeat - yikes, dude, that was NOT CLOSE, please get up and pretend you were kidding
It’s terribly hard not to wonder about dysfunctional organizations and whatnot right now - because clearly this is a team that has some talented players but it’s crazy bad at the moment. Offensively stagnant, defensively reactive - mentality is the difference and what a difference
63- Fire should be hammering away right now but instead MU is breaking at pace. Shot from wide has little chance but CF97 scrambling again
64- Soli tries to save a through ball, fails, gets his head sat on. MU turnover leads to Fire breakout but Soli’s shot is blocked by same dude who sat on his head (3) and it’s over - bested by ‘dude who just sat on your head’ is always sad
66- Basti dances nicely to avoid traffic, but his shot from 24 never has a chance, always wide and high
67- WHAT THE Basti tries a cheeky backheel 35 yards from his own goal, and it goes to no one, meaning MU easily pounces on it and feeds Danladi. Thankfully his shot is wide but fuck me, Basti, this is not the way to Valhalla
Dax gets a yellow for a cynical foul 40 yards from goal. Not. Like. This … but MU makes nuthin’ of the possesssion.
ARTIE KLAXON yes, that’s right, we are counting on Arturo Alvarez to rehabilitate our flagging fortunes. ALVAREZ for SOLIGNAC who in fairness has a head that’s way out of true at the moment after all that getting sat on business
74- Basti bursts up the left side, twisting and turning but the mythos is inoperative and the numbers tell; MU recovers in a pack
IBARRA for NICHOLSON
77- FIRE GET ONE BACK - quick counter with Basti along the left. Clearance finds him deep in midfield, he connects a quick 1-2 with Niko checking back and then lofts a through ball to Accam breaking behind the defense. Accam settles and goes back post like a boss and it’s 1-2. Basti waves arms and tries to get the largish crowd involved
Danladi fouls Dax after the kickoff and gets a yellow
82- Minnesota killing this game off pretty well as Fire struggle for coherence - again against a deep defense they are static and dependent upon dribbling and miracles
87- TAYLOR for MOLINO means we’re losing because they’re parking the bus. Basti disputes something?? With the ref but really it’s nothing.
89- MDL tries a little 2-touch bike that goes just wide. We’re hoping for a bike to tie a home game against an expansion team - that’s where this season is at the moment.
The injury time is straight ‘whatevering.’ These Fire are deep in the wilderness.
Where is Basti’s leadership? I see a lot of petulant arm-waving and precious little leadership. Is he frustrated by the quality around him? Is there any way for him to express it in MLS besides arm-waving?
CHICAGO FIRE 1, MINNESOTA UNITED 2.
The crisis is real. August was a dumpster fire. Will getting healthy solve it? Or is the rot deeper still?