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Roundtable: Context Is Everything

The Hot Time crew unpacks the Fire’s loss to SKC, MdL’s comments, Lee Nguyen, and Red Stars preseason

James Bridget Gordon: Happy Monday, y’all. Last week was, uh, eventful.

The Fire played their first game of the MLS season on Saturday. They were down 2-0 at halftime, they fought back late to grab a 3-2 lead, and then pissed it away within the last 10 minutes to lose 4-3. Pauno had some words after the game that were interesting, if totally unsurprising to anyone who watched the game (or indeed had been following this team up til now).

So! What went wrong?

Adnan Bašić: Nelson never got the quality MLS center back we needed in the offseason, and it showed big time. Dean could go on to be a decent depth player, but it doesn’t seem like he’ll ever become the consistent starter we need.

Ruel Gutierrez Apostol: Tony Tchani looked lost.

Adnan: The trio of him Dax and Bastian seemed all over the place at times.

RJ: Tchani can be a suitable backup to those two, but he shouldn’t be starting at all - or at least yet. The club needs *that* mystical midfielder they’ve been clamoring for. Hopefully N-Rod and Co. offers more monopoly money to the Revs for Lee, but knowing the club’s luck, the Impact are going to swoop him up.

Adnan: I’ve given up hope on Nyguyen. I think Nelson still is holding out til after the World Cup before signing that big name attacking midfielder. Montreal will offer more, and New England would prefer sending him to Montreal than the Fire. It’s a bold strategy from Nelson, but I’m not sure if it’ll pan out in the end.

RJ: The first half was horrendous. There were times that they couldn’t even pass the ball properly to each other. The attack was also very sleepy, there was what, like two shots on goal?

Adnan: I was at the game live, so apologies if I saw something wrong. Sporting was playing a high press in the first half, correct?

Ruben Tisch: Neither could SKC really. The first goal was a fluke, and the second, to quote our fearless pirate captain was “a moment of clean and coherent play in a half of football that otherwise was a bit of a muddle.”

RJ: SKC dealt with the crosses really well in the first half

Adnan: What scared me was the fact that SKC was able to score whenever the felt the need. The Fire comeback was great, but that only came after the Sinovic injury and SKC sitting back. Once Kansas needed to go back on the attack, they got two goals with relative ease.

Ruben: Like, I went in hard on Sanchez, and I stand by it on the goal where he parried it right onto the goalscorer’s foot, but the first goal was a bit of a mess, goal two was a defensive disaster, and goal 4 was the Fire getting wrecked by some very good offensive play by SKC, which happens.

The fourth goal from SKC was really pretty. I can’t even be mad at it, it was so good.

James Bridget: I think you can be both. I definitely appreciated the goal on an aesthetic level, but also I am Mad About It.

Ruben: That’s fair.

Adnan: The Russel meg on Dean was a beauty, but also way too easy.

Ruben: That’s one of those where if it happens to you in the park, you just pack up your things and go home. just go home. Be embarrassed for a while.

James Bridget: Yeah, there’s no way you’re coming away from a nutmeg with any degree of dignity or self-respect.

Ruben: We live for those out here in these streets.

Adnan: At least Bastian got one on the goal, which was nice.

RJ: That assist was niiiicccee

Ruben: The Polster-Vincent-Nikolic thing was gorgeous..... you know for a game that was played sub freezing for about half of it, we got some really pleasant looking soccer.

Adnan: The corner from Katai that lead to the second goal was a perfect cross as well.

James Bridget: What struck me most about the game was how their shape and positioning was just completely out of whack. No one was where they were supposed to be.

Solignac kept trying to play as a fullback, apparently without telling Polster (our actual fullback). Basti played in pretty much every position except the one he was assigned. Tchani just kind of did whatever. Dax was scrambling all over acting as duct tape everytime someone else wasn’t where he was supposed to be.

They couldn’t keep their shape— or even *a* shape— and their communication kept breaking down. Forget defending— THAT is what they need to work on in training.

Ruben: Indeed. It was like they all sort of forgot what they were supposed to do and were trying to figure it out as the game went along. They kept their shape much better in the second half, and it showed with the three goals.

Adnan: So, if we get a guy like Nguyen, would he come in for Tchani or Solignac? Because I think we might need 2 defensive midfielders in this team, since Polster and Vincent push up so much.

Ruben: Tchani. Dax and Basti can hold the line well, as we experienced last year.

RJ: Yeah, Basti in place of Tchani and Nguyen can take up the 10.

James Bridget: Basically. Nguyen in the middle of that 3-bank, Basti slides back next to Dax, Tchani comes in off the bench around the 70th minute.

RJ: And I suppose Solignac and De Leeuw can rotate if there is going to be a front 3.

James Bridget: There was some debate after the game about who was more at fault-- the back line or the goalkeeper. I tend to agree with Pauno and Dax that this was a team failure. But I’m willing to be talked out of that.

Do you attribute the loss to one particular player? If so, who?

Adnan: I do think it was more about the team, but Sanchez and Dean were particularly poor.

Ruben: Immediately after the game, I was super hard on Sanchez. After watching it over again, I’m more inclined to agree with Pauno and Dax. The team let themselves down.

Adnan: Nice to see that Katai looks like a baller. His crosses were especially good.

James Bridget: So let’s talk a little bit about what went right on Saturday. What did you like from the Fire’s play this weekend? Who stood out for you in a positive way?

Ruben: Katai and Niko, for me were great. Niko scores twice. Katai with a goal and an assist. Also Polster and Vincent can still cross well.

It’s nice to see that this team still has some offensive punch without David Accam.

Saul Garcia: Katai can ball.

Other thoughts I had were Tchani was lost and I don’t know why he played tbh. Also, if NRod wants a playmaker after the World Cup why not try Bakero and bench Tchani for now.

James Bridget: The Jon Bakero Appreciator has logged on.

Saul: I will stan for my man.

Ruben: >.>

Adnan: I was the same way with Alex Morrell. Still follow him on Insta and Twitter. I miss him so much.

Saul: Other positives: Dax is still good, and so are the fullbacks.

James Bridget: Further positives: ice cream nachos are back.

Ruben: That was not a positive on Saturday. The Hot Chocolate being almost scalding is the real hero.

James Bridget: No, see, it’s like drinking cold water on a hot day. You throw your body temperature off and make yourself sick. Clearly the best thing to have on a freezing cold day is ice cream.

Ruben: smh

James Bridget: That’s fine, I welcome your skepticism.

Alright so, do we want to talk about Nguyen or MdL next?

Ruben: MdL, especially considering the piece Jeff Krause dropped about it.

It’s actually rather cute, his feelings on MLS and the Fire. I kind of like the idea that he likes playing here because he has to fly to away matches so it feels like he’s playing in the Champions League every week.

James Bridget: I kinda figured this was the case.

Although I have a slight quibble with Jeff’s framing here. I feel like the outrage is less a product of bad social media discourse and more about the particular culture in the CF97 fan community.

Ruben: It’s probably both, tbh.

James Bridget: Everything Is Bad.

Ruben: Except MdL. He is adorable.

James Bridget: And ice cream nachos.

Ruben: Sigh.

Adnan: The season ticket holder only line at concessions is a nice touch.

Ruben: Only if you have season tickets.

Ruben: Not really. MTL overspending to beat the Fire to a player is nothing new.

James Bridget: It’s funny because it’s true.

Any other pressing Fire Opinions?

Ruben: Shout out to Justin Mapp.

James Bridget: RIP your mentions.

Alright, shift change!

The Red Stars beat Portland 1-0 in a preseason friendly last night! We don’t know much beyond that because there was no stream and the club’s official Twitter account got suspended (again) in the middle of the game. We know Arin Gilliland scored the goal, Sam Kerr came on as a late sub, and Taylor Comeau is still testing the waters as a fullback.

Thoughts? Reactions?

Adriana Hooper: From what I could gather. I see that the defense held steady but they had a little trouble breaking down opposing defense to get chances on goal. I also read someone say that Kerr was having trouble getting service, which was a bit of an issue last year too for CRS. Obviously this is preseason so a lot of stuff I take with a grain of salt. Especially how little time they truly get together.

Claire Watkins: Lots of Red Stars saw the field, so I’m happy

What do we think Boyd getting the start means for the keeping competition?

Adriana: I’m thinking she’s being slotted into be Naeher’s backup already. I’m interested to see who starts next but think that speaks to her getting this first start against the Thorns.

Claire: I’m also very ready for a full year of Yuki.

James Bridget: Same tbh.

Getting back to the GK question: does all this mean Dalton is on her way out?

Adriana: I can’t see how she stays when you have a quality backup who is hungry for minutes to me. I was never really sure why they kept her to begin with truthfully.

Claire: For whatever reason I could see Chicago carrying 3 keepers in some capacity. Especially depending on Naeher’s availability.

Adriana: Very possible with the addition of breakers players. The final cut will be interesting.

Sandra Herrera: Here for preseason. Here for different playing styles and formations. Here for Gilliland scoring goals across multiple leagues. Here for rookie goal keeper Emily Boyd getting a shut out.

I think in a World Cup qualifying year, utilizing 3 GK’s isn’t an unreasonable scenario. How that works with roster limitations is the interesting part. Hard to gauge without an actual stream and just going off various live tweet’s (shout out to Chard) - but that 1st half sounded as if the backline was definitely getting a bit of a test, and it’s Boyd that kept them from going down early.

Some day soon, the Red Stars will be seen in live action once again.

James Bridget: One can only hope!

Oh and one quick thing I want to mention— the NWSLPA released their list of team reps for the season. Katie Naughton is the Red Stars rep, Yuki is her alternate, and Lauren Kaskie is the Young Player Rep.

Claire: Love Naughton stepping forward, though she’s not maybe who I would’ve assumed wanting that role considering the depth of non USWNT players on the CRS roster.

Sandra: Same. Not sure if players are nominated or elected or what have you, but either way, ready for the year of Naughton, very underrated last season.

Claire: If you’re gonna have a low key team leader you could do much worse than your starting center back.

Sandra: Curious if anyone has any predictions for the next couple preseason games? Not that I’m really looking for results, just hope we continue to see various players getting the minutes like yesterday.

Adriana: I want to see the same rotation on players. Get everyone some minutes. I imagine Kerr is going to be flying back to Australia since I think camp begins next week

Ruben: I predict that we won’t get to see any of them.

Sandra: lol gdi Ruben.

James Bridget: I feel like “GDI Ruben” is one of Hot Time’s several unofficial mottos at this point.

Ruben: The Hot Time Stare is a thing. And it’s my fault, so.

Claire: I want more goals. But that’s always, tbh.

Sandra: More Vasconcelos, and more Emily Boyd, more goals, more assists.

Less suspended CRS twitter accounts and more live tweets and pics and maybe even a stream, but hey. Let’s not talk crazy now.

James Bridget: Here here!

Sandra: Also, Colaprico as a DM was nice to see read about that again. I would not be mad if that happened again.

Adriana: Also when will the CRS Twitter account come back from war?

James Bridget: Somebody call Ken Burns.