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Roundtable: Don’t Call It A Comeback

The Hot Time crew discuss the win over Montreal, Polster, Mihailovic, and leaning into things

MLS: Chicago Fire at Montreal Impact Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

James Bridget Gordon: Alright! The Fire actually won a game! That seems so silly to say after the incredible run we had earlier in this season but... here we are.

We've had a little extra time to sit with this game thanks to the Labor Day holiday. What's your big-picture take on the result right now?

Ruben Tisch: There is no big picture, at the moment. The win was good, but I don't think there's anything to extrapolate from it. But thank god Matt Polster is back.

Jack Kelly: I think the big-picture take on this is that when the Fire are fit, they're really good. When they're injured, they have no depth.

James Bridget: We have a great first-choice squad! Nobody can get hurt, ever.

(Except Michael Harrington.)

Jack: But hey, they're getting the injuries out of the way now, right?

James Bridget: Heck yeah.

So let's talk about Polster. It's so weird that, given the kind of talent we have in this squad (including Basti), the most indispensable member of the team is Matt Polster.

Jack: And when you consider the fact that he plays right back, it's even weirder. But good god does he seem to be a steadying force for the Fire.

James Bridget: That's the thing though! He's naturally a central midfielder, and was basically dragooned into playing at fullback. And he's been AMAZING in that role!

John Carollo III: That result gave me whiplash.

I think Polster accidentally created some new breed of fullback. One that when going forward plays more to the ground than through the air. And I didn't know how much we needed that but we did.

Also, that shift from "Juego Bonito" to an Ozzie Guillen-style ugly win is something that I'm all about. It's hard to beat a team that's playing to grind out a win.

James Bridget: I want to talk a little bit about the midfield. Earlier in the season it seems like we had a good idea of what the midfield looks like at its best. But between injuries and other factors, that midfield trio has been in flux. Also, Pauno seems to have made the decision that Djordie Mihailovic is a starter now, which... is definitely a choice.

What are your thoughts on the midfield? How did it factor into the Montreal game? Should Mihailovic stay in the team?

John: I don't think Djordje should be a starter. He's not ready and should be getting game time down in Tulsa.

James Bridget: Can you elaborate?

John: Of course, this comes from the part of my brain that wants Calistri back and thinks he can challenge for a spot; but Djordje just isn't our best available option right now. We've still got Solignac and Alvarez and De Leuuw.

James Bridget: Well, those three you named are forwards. Mihailovic has been playing in central midfield for the Fire the past couple games. The midfield trio against Montreal was Basti + Juninho + Mihailovic.

John: De Leuuw at the 10 was pretty valuable and worked well.

James Bridget: I think you're missing the point. Mihailovic isn't taking a starting spot from forwards.

John: Also, that's the spot where Dax would be anyway.

James Bridget: What I'm trying to say is that it looks like Mihailovic is a starting midfielder and I don't think that's necessarily a good thing.

John: I feel like we might be arguing the same point, but in completely different directions.

James Bridget: No, we're having different conversations entirely.

John: I don't think Djordje has earned that spot and would prefer to see someone like CFer there who has been being developed for around four years instead of someone who just walked no better than when CFer walked in.

Ruben: I think Djordje is fine. Also, considering Bastian left early, He's kind of the default. And unlike a good majority of fans and pundents, I think Arturo Alvarez is a worse option.

James Bridget: I've gone back and forth on Alvarez but I generally think he's a good bench option. But I also think it's not entirely germane to this topic, because Alvarez is a forward and Mihailovic is a midfielder.

Ruben: Alvarez is absolutely a midfielder.

James Bridget: He's absolutely not. Not in our setup, anyway. He's a wide forward.

Ruben: It depends if we're working as a 433 or a 4231.

James Bridget: Ok, but even in a 4-2-3-1 Mihailovic ain't playing in the 3-line.

Ruben: I actually think that the center of the 3 might be his best position. Whether or not it's MLS level is a different discussion.

James Bridget: That's possibly the hottest take of the afternoon.

Mihailovic as a #10. WATTBA.

Ruben: Someone has to be. As much as I love MDL, a 10 he is not. Neither is anyone else. Daniel Johnson, if he wasn't hurt, is a Right Winger.

James Bridget: Just because someone needs to play that role doesn't mean it has to be Mihailovic. We might be in need of a striker if Niko gets injured but that doesn't mean we just stick Michael Harrington up top.

Also, transfermarkt disputes your claim that MdL isn't a #10.

Ruben: I think Djordje has the creativity and vision for it. He found Polster for the goal, and was really the only creative force two weeks ago.

Until he was pulled at halftime.

James Bridget: Alright, we should wrap up.

Red Bulls on Saturday. How are we feeling about it?

Jake Payne: Another 1-0.

James Bridget: Win or loss?

Jake: Oh right haha. Fire win. Polster casts revive on the Fire and Niko finally scores.

Ruben: There will either be no score, or someone will score. Bradley Wright Phillips will be involved, either way.

James Bridget: Incredible.

John: With Polster on the pitch, I might have to rescind my omens of doom and gloom.

Fire win again.

James Bridget: I'm going to say.... 1-1. BWP and Accam score.

John: They have to win, otherwise meet the team afterwards is gonna be real awkward.

James Bridget: If the Fire have demonstrated nothing else over the years, it's their willingness and capacity to lean into their awkwardness.