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Roundtable: Don’t Let Your Memes Be Dreams

The Hot Time crew discuss Fire preseason, Chicago USL 2020, and Red Stars preseason, and our favorite ice cream

James Bridget Gordon: Happy Monday, y’all. The Fire played two preseason games this week, losing to Montreal before beating a bunch of college kids. What were your big takeaways from these games?

Adnan Bašić: Christian Dean looks promising, but I’m still afraid we’ll see the same player from last year who looked scared against the best of MLS. Also, the trialists looked quite exciting against FGCU, but that might’ve been the fact they were playing college kids.

However it was hard to pay attention to the Impact game as it was so boring.

Ruel Gutierrez Apostol:Looks like Dean is finally adapting. Also I want a word with the person scheduling these preseaon games - these time slots are very inconvenient.

James Bridget: Who schedules a kickoff for 10am in the middle of the week?


Ruel: rude GROSERO g r o s s i e r 失礼 niegrzeczny

James Bridget: Precisely.

Ruben Tisch: The preseason is dumb and stupid and can March 10th get here already.

James Bridget: So I’ve said this before in comments on one of our articles, but pretty much I think preseason exists in part to give players the opportunity to fuck up. And so, the results are sort of beside the point for me. But I’m also seeing a lot of Fire fans losing their shit over the results. And sometimes I don’t know they’re all overreacting or if I’m not taking it seriously enough.

Or maybe both!

Ruel: I think that they are just overreacting. But tbh, I’m a bit sad that the Fire can no longer complete the meme double this year (undefeated preseason + Brimstone Cup).

James Bridget: And we were never in the running for the meme treble: undefeated preseason, Brimstone Cup, and Carolina Challenge Cup

Ruben: Don’t let your memes be dreams.

James Bridget: ... that was way too deep for a Monday afternoon.

I’m going to be thinking about that all day.

Damn you, Ruben.

Ruben: You’re welcome.

James Bridget: smh


James Bridget: Incredible.

Sean Spence: If we were rolling out a strong XI and looking terrible, I’d be at least a little worried at this point - but a discussion of how little minutes key guys are getting is certainly applicable right now. Absent Polster and Basti this is a terribly thin roster at the moment.

Adnan: Hopefully we see the starting XI vs Tulsa.

James Bridget: I would certainly assume we would, barring injuries. I guess they might sit Basti, or at least save him for a 2nd half sub. But yeah, I agree that Tulsa should be the big dress rehearsal.

Ruel: I wonder how bad Polster’s knee injury is.

James Bridget: Yeah, I hope it’s just a precautionary thing and he’ll be fine for the regular season.

Ruben: Let’s hope.

I don’t remember all this hand wringing 10 years ago when the Fire were good. And their backup winger was Mike Freaking Banner

James Bridget: The thing is, last season there were long stretches where the Fire were legitimately good. Like, Supporters Shield contenders. And people STILL complained. I think this might just be who we are now.

Adnan: We’re just so used to it at this point. The negative energy is yet to fully leave Bridgeview.

Ruben: Well, this is my official call to Stop It (tm). Take your kids down the street to Haunted Trails and enjoy yourselves. That should help.

James Bridget: But it’s February. (On the other hand, Enchanted Castle isn’t too far away.)

Ruel: I remember Banner. Didn’t he leave us to play for an indoor soccer team?

Adnan: Welp before I head off to my creative writing class I’ll just say that I’m already having nightmares about losing the opener 1-0 to Kansas City.

James Bridget: Do you think soccer players have that Showing Up To Class Naked nightmare but for games? Like they dream that they line up in the tunnel and then process out and then stand with the rest of their team and only then do they realize they’re buck nekkid and tens of thousands of people are staring at them.

Adnan: Chris Ritter definitely did.

... well that’s a thought that’ll consume my thoughts during the entirety of class. Cheers.

James Bridget: Enjoy!

Ruel: Up next on ESPN 72: The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match between the Chicago Fire and Amazon Prime FC!

James Bridget: So I actually want to talk about the Chicago USL thing in a second but first I want to wrap up Fire preseason chat.

What’s one promising sign you’ve seen so far from Fire preseason training? And one thing you’ve seen that’s made you worry?

Adnan: Mo Adams looks to be the real deal, and should provide some much needed depth to the center of midfield. The amount of injuries already worry me, and I’m just holding out hope all these absences are just precautionary.

James Bridget: Go to class you delinquent yout.

Ruel: A lot of the younger lads are pretty good. And to echo Adnan statement, the injuries worry me as well.

I have to go to class soon as well. But it’s a 50 minute train ride to get to the Loop. That #commutelife yo.

Saul Garcia: I have liked Ruiz a lot. Bit homerish, but oh well. ( I attend FGCU.) Goalkeeper still a worry to me, as well.

Ruel: Mhm. Sanchez is alright but Cleveland is USL tier. Alan Gordon is now a trialist apparently.

James Bridget: Yeah, I’m extremely Not Happy about that.

Ruben: No one is dead?

James Bridget: I mean, unless you believe we’re ALL dead and this is The Bad Place.

Ruel: Same, re: Alan Gordon. He’s not only a bigot but he’s also a mediocre player

James Bridget: And old! He’s 36! What the hell are we going to do with a 36-year-old center forward?

Ruben: Not named Peter Crouch!

Saul: He’s had this weird cult of personality thing going I never got too.

James Bridget: Yeah he’s sort of got that Wondolowski thing going on except he never did anything of note for the USMNT. So, a poor man’s Wondo. Awesome.

Sean: We seriously fell down the Alan Gordon Hole? Goddamnit Fires.

Ruben: I’d rather have Steven Linhardt.

James Bridget: That’s your answer for everything.

Ruben: Linhardt or Crouch?

Ruel: I scored a 2-foot screamer last time I played some pick up footie. I’m more qualified than Gordon.

Ruben: Saying “footie” is almost as bad as putting ketchup on a hotdog.

James Bridget: RJ scored that screamer by putting ketchup on the ball. Calls it the DuPage County Special.

Ruben: Gross.

Saul: Ketchup is actually #good.

James Bridget: Get out.

Saul: #teamrj

James Bridget: This is the conflict that’s going to break up Hot Time.

Ruben: Ketchup is fine actually. I defended the virtue of ketchup in the first ever edition of the #AskHotTime mailbag, which comes out every Friday afternoon.

Saul: Ah, the cheap plug is alive and well folks.

James Bridget: Don’t forget to Like, Comment, and Subscribe!

Ruel: When I covered a Fire game for my uni two season ago I wanted to ask the Milkman if he liked ketchup. But I got too intimidated.

James Bridget: You should’ve asked him what his favorite anime was.

Ruel: Captain Tsubasa or bust.

James Bridget: I think mine may actually be Yuri!! On Ice, because I am a parody of myself.

Ruel: 1) Evangelion 2) Captain Tsubasa 3) The IDOLM@STER 4) Initial D 5) BBC Match of the Day 6) Macross Frontier.

Objective facts™

James Bridget: I... have additional questions.

Ruel: Gary Lineker is one of my favorite anime protagonists

James Bridget: He does have a bit of shojo hair, doesn’t he.

... oh god.

Gary Lineker: Anime Boyfriend


Let’s talk about Chicago USL.

It’s happening! I don’t know how I feel about it!

Ruel: I kinda dig it. Anything to grow the sport in Chicagoland. But Fire til I die.

James Bridget: I think a lot of my opposition to the idea is more about Amazon. If Amazon decides on a different city and the Lincoln Yards project happens anyway, then, bully for them.

Claire Watkins: From a Red Stars perspective, it’d be great if the Fire weren’t the only other potential ally in town, and actually in town to boot. I do not want the new Amazon HQ.

James Bridget: Yeah, I was going to say, I think this new stadium would be GREAT for the Red Stars. Not least because it’s actually in the city.

Claire: As someone solely reliant on the CTA, I’m really not a fan of the Bridgeport location.

Ruel: Same. Just to get to TP I have to go from Rosemont to Clark on the Blue Line then transfer to the Orange Line then take the Pace Bus.

James Bridget: And I get that the Fire are stuck with the Bridgeview stadium deal. But the Red Stars aren’t!

Ruben: Whatever. Also, Mobile Suit Gundam.

Claire: I mean I’m ready to yell about who’s getting the gate money from the March doubleheader whenever you are

James Bridget: Yeah!!

Well ok let’s finish this USL thread and THEN we’ll get mad about WoSo.

I feel like Fire fans are falling into one of two camps: “Meh, whatever” and “this is a direct attack on the Fire.” None of what I’m hearing from the peanut gallery seems to think Chicago getting a lower league men’s soccer team is a good thing.

Ruben: Objectively it’s a good thing. But also meh whatever. More opportunities for engagement is a good thing. Amazon being an alleged part of this is literally the only downside. At the same time, my heart, such as it is, belongs to the Fire. So I personally have no strong feelings on it.

James Bridget: One weird thing is that the folks in charge seem so cagey about the whole thing. They still won’t return my calls, and as far as I can tell the other Fire media folks aren’t faring much better. The only outlet Sterling Bay seems willing to talk to is the Tribune.

I mean maybe they just want to wait and drop all the details at their big launch announcement (which is apparently in May).

Ruben: Or maybe they see the soccer media as not being real media.

James Bridget: This is true. These are real estate developers, not sports people.

Ruben: I’ve gotten that from sports people too. It’s a traditional media vs new media thing.

James Bridget: Right, but that perception has shifted over the years (due in no small part to shrinking newsrooms and “serious journalists” going to work for blogs.)

Ruben: Only with people who pay attention to these things. Like the media industry.

Ruel: I’ll judge the new USL team solely on their food concession stands in the stadium

James Bridget: I’m Fire Til I Die but I gotta be honest: if the new USL team offers ice cream nachos in the stands AND it’s from Jeni’s Ice Cream... I dunno, I’d have to ask some Hard Questions of myself.

Ruben: Like: “Why can’t they use Homers Ice Cream instead?”

Adriana Hooper: Jeni’s FTW!

James Bridget: I like Jeni’s a lot.

Ruel: I just like ice cream

James Bridget: Jeni’s supplies the ice cream for the Transgender Ice Cream Socials at Center On Halsted. So, I mean, I’m biased.

Ruben: I mean, that’s fair.

Claire: Jeni! Queen of Dublin, Ohio!

Sandra Herrera: Hold up, we talkin’ bout Ice Cream? Into it.

James Bridget: Dang it, I was expecting you to roll up with “I’m just here for the ice cream.” Surprisingly off-brand for you there, Sandra.

But also, great timing. The Red Stars preseason roster came out today!

Claire: Four goalkeepers!

Sandra: F O U R.

Adriana: What are the odds Dalton still makes the roster?

Claire: I actually think the higher number gives her a better shot, seems like an open competition

Adriana: I just don’t know that she’s been the best backup to all of the work Naeher has done for CRS but also, may push her now to have 2 other keepers to compete with.

Adriana: 6 draftees and 5 tryout players too. Quite a load and crop to see and get some feelers out on.

Claire: My biggest issue with dalton is consistency, and that’s a hard thing to add to ones game at this point. I’ll be very interested to see how it shakes out. It’s not easy to keep a job as a keeper in this league

Adriana: Most definitely not. A lot of starter quality keepers but not enough starting jobs either.

Sandra: Same, Claire. I think it’s wide open for number 2. I have been a defender of Dalton before in the past because of that (I don’t put that Seattle loss on her last season) but if you’re just comparing seasons at this point - 2015/16 Dalton to 2017 Dalton is, not great Bob.

Claire: She definitely hasn’t thrived in the backup role

Sandra: Excited to see how pre season will go for the keepers since Naeher isn’t due to be in camps with CRS till national team duty is over.

It’s also nice to see Sofia Huerta listed as a forward for Club.

Adriana: A forward listed as a forward?!?

Sandra, how dare you speak such sense?

Pre-season going to be a lot of new players getting a chance to shine, especially with national team members out.

Claire: Yeah! That actually moves toward answering some of our questions from last week re: goal scoring options. I’d love to see Huerta pushed up as much as possible. Way more effective than sitting in the midfield

Adriana: Along with Kerr, what are your guesses for the front line? 2 up top, 3?

Claire: I’d expect Nagasato in the mix up there

Sandra: Yuki Kerr Huerta plx

Adriana: That 3-front could be deadly. Imagine they’ll keep to 2 until Kerr comes back, Yuki and Huerta seem like the logical choices.

Claire: Preseason will definitely be great for getting Yuki established, plus some young guns maybe.

Adriana: Lots of midfielders on that list too, I’m counting 15. But Rosie White is injured. But goodness.

Claire: Very excited to see what Vasconcelos is gonna bring to the table.

Adriana: Me too. I was excited to see what she could accomplish last season and she had other plans lol.

Claire: Other than her though (and Stanton), is that a midfield group anyone can reasonably break into?

Adriana: I think they’ll keep Rosie White because she doesn’t count against roster limit but yea, I don’t see other options breaking in. Especially for how many there already are there. Also dependent on how many Dames actually wants to keep.

James Bridget: What’s the maximum roster size in NWSL again?

Adriana: 20. But the boston players don’t count (this season only).

James Bridget: Sheesh, that seems really low.

Adriana: It is. The bane of WoSo existence. Especially with internationals, it really doesn’t leave much wiggle room if they are out on national team duty. It works something like they can hold 30 right now I think, then by a certain date have to cut to 25, and then by another date, down to 20. It’s going to put a lot of players out of work this season.

James Bridget: For real.

Claire: And Dames has a history of giving players preseason looks, but ultimately not rostering them. Unlike, say, Orlando, which only posted 22 players today.

Adriana: Very true, seems a few teams are going to have some big cuts coming up. And ugh, the Pride are my main team, but damn them and their small preseason roster.

Sandra: I mean, at least you know what you’re getting lol

Adriana: No surprises there, that’s true, along with half the lineup gone on international duty lol.

James Bridget: So earlier we talked a little bit about the Doubleheader next month and the gate revenue, and I do want to get into that a little more.

Full disclosure-- I don’t know what the arrangement actually looks like.

Claire: I think it’s just part of a larger conversation about the Fire/Red Stars/Toyota Park relationship. Toyota Park is a tough location on a good day, and I genuinely think it limits the Red Stars as far as market capability.

Adriana: Forgive my ignorance a bit, but is Toyota parked owned by the fire?

Claire: From what I understand, the Toyota park deal is with the Village of Bridgeview.

Ruben: The stadium is owned by Bridgeview, and the Fire are listed as it’s main tenant.

Adriana: Hm. Yea agreed with Claire on the larger convo there. The Red Stars are tenants then as well and especially on a double header should be getting some of that revenue if they aren’t. (Do we know they aren’t?)

Claire: No idea about this year, but apparently last time that was the case.

I’m also framing this a little bit on the Arin Gilliland W-league interview that ran a few weeks ago, where she expressed some frustration about playing conditions in the NWSL. One has to think that falls back on the Red Stars a bit.

However, I am pro-doubleheader!! It’s gonna be a very fun day

Adriana: She obviously knows a lot more than me (or we) about conditions etc, but I read that as a more underlying tone of CRS stuff, which I get. Because i don’t think that’s the case with every NWSL team but Chicago can do some things a lot better than they are.

But double headers have the ability to be super great from a marketability and new fan standpoint. should be a good one!

James Bridget: Yeah I’m really looking forward to it too.

So! First preseason game on Saturday against some college kids! Thoughts? Reflections?

Claire: Some real unfortunate weather?

Sandra: First one is against Marquette University and closed, so cold, but a win? lol

Claire: In general I like that they’re going aggressive again with their preseason schedule, glad they’re heading back to Portland.

Sandra: Agree. Wonder what the status of that spring invitational was going to be with providence park construction, but I’m glad things worked out with games hosted at the University of Portland.

Claire: I also think they lucked out with their first two opponents of the season being teams they’re very familiar with. I don’t envy anyone trying to figure out what the hell Seattle or Utah are gonna look like on opening weekend.

Sandra: Cheers, Here’s to playing Houston in Houston for a 3rd year in a row.

Claire: Maybe Chicago will win this one?

Sandra: They probably will have to, and Nah. Gotta keep up with tradition and lose, it is THE WAY.

James Bridget: So, uh. Do you think we’ll actually have to play against CP23?

Claire: It’s like she’s Schrodinger’s striker. Equally playing and not playing til she finally walks on the pitch.

Sandra: I think a lot of people will have Chicago taking this one, myself included, but I’m waaaay more interested in how Houston looks/lines up come opening day. But that’s a different team and roundtable all together.

Claire: It’s all coming up Chicago til Rachel Daly snipes us and the universe snaps back into place.

James Bridget: Ok, let’s go ahead and wrap things up.

One thing you’re excited about the Red Stars, and one thing you’re worried about.

Claire: Gonna be cheesy and say I’m so dang excited to have games on the horizon again. The NWSL offseason isn’t for the faint of heart so let’s finally play some soccer about it.

As for biggest worry? Probably internationals being out for preseason again. We’ve got four players out for USWNT camp in addition to Sam Kerr being out for Australia, and while this isn’t an issue that’s gonna go away anytime soon, I worry about team chemistry with such choppy starts.

Adriana: Agreed.

Plus: season is starting and CRS has some good players to choose between.

Worry: international (and USWNT) absences.

James Bridget: Seconded all around.


Worry: Are we going to keep playing Route 1? Cause like.

Claire: True facts.