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Getting A Grip: Chicago Fire @ San Jose Earthquakes, MLS Week 31 Preview

After the loss in Philly, the Fire need something to grab on to as the postseason looms straight ahead

MLS: Chicago Fire at Philadelphia Union Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

That game just did not compute. I do have to admit, I did mention that Philly had been able to pull off some random upsets, but I don’t quite know of any point in that match where the Fire were “ahead” and not on the back foot. In all honestly, the team appeared too timid to get out of our own third and when we did, it was to pound the ball out of play past the goal line. This part of the season has been so turbulent that I don’t know whether this style of play just sort of “happened” or if this is the new norm. All I can tell is that the Fire need to get a hold of themselves before they somehow play themselves out of a playoff spot.

Speaking of playoff spots the San Jose Earthquakes, much like the rest of the Western Conference, are still fighting for one. Things are close out on the west end and San Jose is right in the thick of it at 6th place, within three points on both sides. Their bid for playoffs does seem a bit weak after giving Patrick Mullins his first four goals of the season against DC, but we might have to give that a pass as we weren’t much better. Here are some highlights:

Vs. Toronto 9/9

Vs. Houston 9/16

Vs. DC United 9/23

Three Keys

Contradicting Fullbacks

Usually, you hear about complimentary players, but San Jose has a specific tactic that doesn’t exactly look like it’s a compliment to anything. When defending, instead of coming out to play the man, I keep seeing the Quakes fullbacks tighten up and into the box. Usually that means that the wings cover for them, but a lot of times the wings can’t come by quick enough. This means that this is a playground for someone like Accam to just punch through their weak game-planning and find his way through the line.

Your Youth Is Showing

One of the things you wouldn’t normally associate San Jose with is “youth”, but here they are with draft picks and homegrown players starting and making a difference for the team. Yes, Wondo is in the waning years of his career, but that’s just one player. Nick Lima showed to be very good early on in the season and although he’s dropped off he’s still a force to be reckoned with. Andrew Tarbell now has the reigns in goal and Tommy Thompson appears to finally be on track to becoming the player that everyone was touting him to be. Not to mention this year’s draft pick of Jackson Yueill, San Jose has some good looks for the future and right now.

Juego Ninguno

So, I tried looking up what “whatever” is in Spanish and google couldn’t give me a straight answer so I chose something close enough. Because whatever. Whatever-ing is a term we use around here when we talk about the team just going through the motions and not caring. I’ve used both the terms “Juego Bonito” and “Juego Feo” when describing the Fire’s play, but at this point I think I’ve landed on the “whatever” spot. Watching the Fire just sit around in the back like they’re waiting for space to open up in the midfield only to pound it upfield is this weird mix of both styles, but not in a good way. Instead it looks like the defense and whoever it is holding it up back there is either too timid to make a move or too lazy to do something. Either way, we cannot win that way.

Projected Lineups

Chicago Fire

San Jose Earthquakes

How To Watch

Kickoff: Wednesday September 27th, 7:30PM PDT/9:30PM CDT, at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California

TV/Streaming: CSN-Chicago, MLS Live

So are we still in a tailspin or will we be able to control ourselves long enough to get a place in the playoffs? Tell us what you think in the comments.