Chicago Fire 3 (Harkes own goal 23, Vincent 62, Nikolic 90)
Hey you guys - I’ve got some bad news.
No, nothing about … no! Please, sit down. It’s about the Fire. Yes, the Chicago Fire. I just wanted to tell you … you know those dominant Fire of spring and early summer? The ones that created those where-were-you-when moments?
Yeah, I’m sorry. I think they’re dead.
I swear! Why would I make this up? They have to be dead if they’re now a zombie, right? And I just saw a zombie version of those swaggering Men in Red scrape their way past DC United, 3-0, at Toyota Park. I’m sorry. I know this has to be hard to hear.
Well, yes, they were zombies. They were! They were zombies, but this was against DC United. I mean, the first goal, Ian Harkes was in a stack of three United players marking zombie Luis Solignac, for some reason (I suspect DC United were being rendered throughout by the Football Manager 2011 3D match engine, but that’s for Black & Red United to discuss). Zombie Matt Polster’s rather innocuous long throw to nobody found Harke - marking no one, mind you, as the Fire were basically not attacking the kick - cushion a defensive header inexplicably past Bill Hamid.
It’s not that the Fire didn’t create chances. Like zombies are purported to do, they carried on with the habits that had served them well on the pitch before, but seemingly without the sense of timing and group motion that comes naturally to the living. Still, they combined stiffly to draw saves from Hamid, who was clearly affected by the Omnipotent Keeper bug throughout. Hamid’s commanding presence kept the Fire’s occasional sorties at bay, and the zombie Fire’s lack of motor skills and higher mental capacity prevented them from successfully implementing the thought-and-touch-based possession system they’d made their own in life.
I’m not a zombie-ologist or anything. Maybe there’s some way they can be saved - they did show little sparks of life at times, thinking together instead of just running their individual routines. Like the second goal; cling to that, if you’re in need of comfort. It was around the hour mark; the Fire’s eyes cleared, and their gait improved. Instead of cranking another corner into the box, the Fire played a slow triangle on the right side. Zombie Arturo Alvarez, seeming himself in the moment, waaaaiited and waited a bit more for DC’s entire defensive structure to shift to the right, then cut them all out of the play with a single ball, a slicing cross that leaned into Brandon Vincent’s already-powerful diving header, creating a shot that was past the invincible Hamid seemingly before it was headed.
But mostly it was just running through the same routines, more clumsily and without the spark of inteilligence and initiative that made them work in the first place.
Third goal? That’s more zombie stuff! Old routines, etc. … Come on, even zombie Lucho Solignac is going to go over in the penalty area - it’s part of his routines! And zombie Niko buries penalties without breathing because it’s part of his routines. These are not serious challenges to the hypothesis, I’m sorry. And the defense keeping a clean sheet was basically a matter of everyone looking defendery until the DC attack found some way to sabotage itself, which seems within the possibility when we’re already considering a team rendered into a zombie version of itself as represented by the results in play.
Look, you want me to say they’re not zombies? Ok, fine. But if they’re not zombies, and they completely failed to control play against one of the worst teams in the league, at home, yikes. Absent some massive changes, this is not a team that is going to win a home-and-home with Toronto, or either New York team; I’d be worried against Columbus, at this point. If this zombie thing can turn around, though, anything’s possible.
Chicago (14-9-6) travels to Philadelphia next Saturday.