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Roundtable: Dancing With The One That Brought You

The Hot Time crew talks about the draw against NYRB, Pauno’s comments, and managing expectations

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James Bridget Gordon: Alright, let's dive in.

Fire drew 1-1 against NYRB. We'll get to that in a second, but I want to start with Pauno's comments after the game. The manager was A. pretty animated and B. seemed to suggest that this kind of performance (grinding out a result, insinuating NYRB is the much better team) is his team at its best.

What do you think? Is the Fire's performance this weekend their ideal platonic form?

Ralph Schudel: First off, Good Morning team.

John Carollo III: Hi!

Ralph: Second, I tend to disagree with Veljko here. I think the Fire are geared to "run and gun" and likely succeed in doing so. I don't think of Chicago as a defensive team with grit.

I cite Sporting Kansas City as a team with defensive grit. The Fire are best when engaged in a fluid motion moving up the field.

John: I agree with you. The Fire don't really have the personnel to consider themselves a defensive team. We need to move quickly on the counterattack because those are the players we've got.

Ralph: EXACTLY. When the players get wide and get service into Niko, good things happen. He can really exploit the space vacated by the defenders. Chicago's counter can absolutely be lethal to the opposition if executed correctly.

John: It's not that any one tactical style is better than another, it's about what works better for the team when you've got certain players with certain strengths and weaknesses.

Ralph: Again, agreed.

John: We just so happen to have fast players who can move the ball forward faster.

Ralph: And a great distributor in Basti.

John: And instead we choose to play a defensive game that hamstrings us when it comes to competing.

So I'll say this about Pauno's comments: We as a team put together properly on the pitch, are a much better team than NYRB. But the team and the tactics we put out in front of them were much worse than Jesse Marsch's side. And in that case I agree that this was a good result, but it was only the best in a long list of much worse things that could've happened.

James Bridget: So if we ARE better than NYRB (and I'm inclined to think we are), why did we have to settle for a draw?

John: Because of the tactics we put out.

James Bridget: Oh ok well that explains everything. Good job everybody!

Mike Tooley: No one should be settling for a draw in any home game really. Especially given how tough it is to get anything on the road. I am torn though because I am disappointed in a single point at home. However at the same time I feel that in a couple weeks I may look back and say hey, that was a solid point that we needed.

James Bridget: Getting back to his comments: whether or not Saturday's performance is the best the Fire can do, Pauno seems to think it is. Is this a problem? Does this indicate that there are hard limits to what this team can do while he's the manager?

John: That's definitely the problem. Pauno's mentality on the Fire's possible success has greatly deteriorated. From his hiring talking about MLS Cups to now saying that scraping to a draw against a struggling NYRB team is the best we could do.

James Bridget: Do you think there was a shift after that bad run last month? Or is this always been who Pauno was?

John: I really can't tell. There was a definite mentality shift during that run though. And you could feel it on everyone. The atmosphere between Fire vs Vancouver was much more excited and optimistic than what I felt from everyone against NYRB.

Jake Payne: I think the air came out of the balloon a bit. The Fire kind of feel like they’re coasting into the playoffs, and the fan excitement is totally gone from the summer. Its a bit disappointing to watch, but they also had it rough with injuries and whatnot.

Mike: If his mentality is that this was the best we can do at home then there will be limits to what the Fire do moving forward. That is not the ideal attitude for your manager to have. The comments sound like its just about getting the team into a playoff spot now. Anything else they would just consider a bonus.

Jake: Exactly, and now I'm wondering what exactly the Fire THINK they will do in the playoffs.

James Bridget: Is it fair to say that playoff expectations are being revised downward Both in the team and among fans?

Jake: I don't expect them to get out of the first round and I dont think they do either. Not sure what you get for just showing up to the playoffs but it must be pretty good.

Mike: I can't speak for the team but I would say among fans I know and talk to the expectations have been downgraded. There was a point where I and others thought we may have a shot to make it to the conference final. While it is certainly possible still I do not think I would say its very likely. At this point I am just hoping for 3rd or 4th in order to have a home game.

James Bridget: Ok, let's zoom back in before we adjourn.

DC United on Saturday. Likely to end up with the Wooden Spoon at the end of the season. The expectation is to win, obviously. What (if anything) do you think it'll say about the team if they don't win?

Ralph: I would then push the Panic Button.

Jake: It'll say they don't care about the rest of the season.

James Bridget: Predictions for Saturday?

Jake: 1-0 DC win. Only goal is an own goal because DC United witchcraft.

John: More panic buttons.

Ruben: I'm out of glib predictoins. Sorry.

John: If we lose: 6 AM! BAG SKATE!

But I'll agree with a 1-0 win.