DC United 0
The thing that struck me most about today, and what I think defines this last game of the 2018 season more than the result, was the funereal tone among fans and on the #cf97 hashtag. There is more going on than just the end of a difficult losing season. The breakdown in diplomatic relations between supporters and the Front Office, the uncertainty over whether organized support will be allowed back next year and in what capacity, question marks almost every single member of the current squad. This isn’t just the usual bad season feeling. This is something close to grief.
There is some activity in the Harlem end today. Supporters wielding a “football without fans is nothing” banner and three black coffins with “tradition”, “honor” and “passion” labeled on each. #cf97 pic.twitter.com/cri0SiV97D— Guillermo Rivera (@FireConf) October 28, 2018
If not quite an ending, this season, and today in particular, feels like a turning point. As if the Fire we used to know and love is truly gone and there’s no getting it back. Not now.
Honestly, I couldn’t bother getting worked up about the lineup. It was very stupid— Patrick McLain in goal, Diego Campos as a fullback, Djordje Mihailovic as the #8 in place of Brandt Bronico, Nico Hasler playing as an winger/inside forward— but really, who cares anymore. Pauno’s gonna Pauno. It’s the last game of the season. Let’s just get this over with.
To the Fire’s credit, they came out spoiling for a fight to start the game. They clearly looked the more dangerous team in the first 20 or so minutes, creating several promising chances to score but failing to finish any of them. Raheem Edwards looked absolutely lethal, drifting inside from the left and setting up teammates and even taking a shot or two at goal.
Even when the game settled into a mild Whatevering lull, the Fire still had their moments, even late in the half. But they couldn’t capitalize on any of their opportunities, and they went into the tunnel at halftime at 0-0. Given how many times the Fire would have a decent first half and then collapse in the second, you could be forgiven for not feeling especially confident about Chicago’s chances. (Or, you know, feeling anything at all.)
The Fire came out in the second half sticking to the same gameplan and yielding similar results— creating chances and not finishing them. As Ruben said on Twitter, if Chicago were playoff contenders this would’ve been frustrating. As it is... well, you know.
Past the hour mark DC started to force their way back into the game. Patrick McLain nearly gifted the visitors the opening goal around the 68th minute, managing to scramble and recover just in time. DCU’s presence grew larger and more imposing but, like their hosts, they couldn’t make the most of their opportunities.
There were no late heroics. No late heartbreaks, either. The season ended, quite appropriately, with dropped points at home, in miserable weather, in front of a sparse crowd, with nothing to look forward to next week. The Fire finish the season with 32 points and next-to-last in the Eastern Conference. None of this is good enough, but no one in a decision-making capacity knows how to fix this or thinks everything is fine, just fine, actually. Right now, continuing to circle the drain seems like the best case scenario. There’s an inescapable sense that things can, and will, get much worse.
Are you excited for preseason? Because I’m fucking not.