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Roundtable: In Praise Of Thievery

The Hot Time crew discusses the Red Stars’ opening weekend draw with Houston, rays of hope for the Fire, and how green the grass is on the other side of the fence

Trask Smith/

James Bridget Gordon: Happy Monday, y’all. The Fire had a bye week this weekend, so we’ve all had some time to take deep cleansing breaths after the awful start to the season.

In a Big Picture sense, how are you feeling about the team right now?

Ruel Gutierrez Apostol: I’ve told myself I should just be content with what the team is right now and just hope for the best until the summer.

Adnan Bašić: I think this team should be able to stay in the hunt for the final playoff spot until the summer. Then, we just have to hope the Fire get the big name player we’ve been craving for so long.

RJ: #freelee

Ruben Tisch: I’d like to think that I’m a bit calmer about the whole thing. I don’t think the performances on the whole we’re all that bad, asside from the first half against Kansas City. There’s a reason the coloquial phrase “Don’t look at the table until Christmas” exists. (Or “never look at the standings until June” for us)

Defensively, the communication and positioning needs to be better. Thats not being desputed. That needs to improve quickly, though.

Adnan: Anyone know if Campbell/Lillard will be good to go for the Portland game?

RJ: Haven’t heard any updates from those two since 5 days ago that they were back in training. If they were fit, they would of have been subbed into that game against Louisville or I guess Pauno didn’t want to risk it.

James Bridget: I think we should assume no one on the injured list is coming back for Portland. If that changes then it’s a happy surprise.

Saul Garcia: I feel ok with the team since you can start slowly and still make the playoffs. Parity, am I right?

James Bridget: Yeah, it’s worth remembering that the Sounders were near bottom of the Western Conference in July 2016 and then they went and won the MLS Cup.

Ruben: Truth. Everyone calm down.

Also I think the verdict on Alex Katai is in, and it’s positive.

James Bridget: lol @ Ruben telling Fire fans to calm down.

Ruben: Someone has to.

James Bridget: I really think at this point Fire fans just have like a Wheel Of Outrage that they spin every day and then get mad about whatever it lands on on CF97 Twitter.

”Good morning everyone, what’s on the agenda today?”


<lands on ESPN+ Streaming Deal>

”Right lads, let’s get to it.”

RJ: Sounders 2016 was truly a fluke. Smh 0 shots on goal.

James Bridget: You’re not wrong, but it was a fluke that still gave them an MLS Cup. Sometimes a win is a win any way you can get it. (Except for Alan Gordon being on your team, there’s nothing that makes that okay.)

Saul: Plus a possible big signing after the World Cup and the future is less bleak.

RJ: Mario Balotelli | skills | goals | Welcome to Chicago * emotional * * not clickbait *

James Bridget: smh

Saul: Balotelli is a misunderstood genius folks.

James Bridget: No he’s not lol

Ruben: Why always him, tho?

James Bridget: The eternal question, my friend.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m down with him coming to Chicago, but let’s be honest about what we’re getting.

Saul: Like most geniuses, he will not be appreciated until after he’s gone. (I’m half joking.)

James Bridget: smh

Saul: The Fire don’t need another forward anyway.

James Bridget: Well sure we do, we just need quality rather than depth.

Saul: I was hashtag Upset Online because of that player poll on Nikolic last week. Like, why??? Do the players not watch the league?

James Bridget: Was it a poll? I thought it was just Herc Gomez having a hot take?

Saul: Yea, it was an MLS players poll done in the preseason and it was players saying Nikolic is overrated.

James Bridget: lol whatever

MLS players are catty as heck.

RJ: I’d say Bradley is the most overrated.

Saul: I’d disagree there, probably the leagues best d-mid.

Adnan: I def agree with Gio being most overrated.

My more controversial take is that Alessandrini is the most underrated player in the league.

James Bridget: I’m getting super into Ismael Tajouri. He’s been filling in for David Villa at NYCFC, played two games and scored three goals. If I could pluck any non-DP player from any other team and drop them off in Bridgeview, I think I might go with Tajouri.

Ruben: Tommy Mac, tho.

James Bridget: Meh.

So how are we feeling about Portland? By which I mean the Timbers, although if you have any thoughts on Red Stars-Thorns immediately after feel free to share.

Ruben: If The Timbers feel like playing, then the Fire are in trouble.

James Bridget: Can you elaborate?

Ruben: The Timbers last year were very hot and cold. They were just as likely to lay an egg as to blow you out.

James Bridget: And you think that pattern has carried over into this year?

Ruben: I’m hoping it does. Two games is a small sample size. They got shellacked by the Red Bulls, and from what little I watched against Dallas, they didn’t look so hot.

James Bridget: They got a draw, and they arguably looked a little better. They benched Liam Ridgewell, which is fascinating.

Ruben: True. We’ll just have to see this weekend. Both teams could use a result.

Adnan: Olum got a dumb red last game, so at least he won’t be able to play against the Fire.

I think Chicago-Portland is gonna come down to whoever scores first. The Fire and Timbers could either win 3-0, or just a bore nil nil draw for the bantz.

James Bridget: I’m not sure it’s possible for a 0-0 draw to yield bantz.

RJ: Anything is banter tier with cee eff nine tee 7 now.

James Bridget: Yeah but they’ll forget about it a few hours later and then get mad about Schweinsteiger Bobbleheads all over again. That’s some pretty weak and short-lived bantz.

RJ: Wait, did some people really get mad about that?

James Bridget: Yup!

Anyway, predictions for Fire v Timbers?

Adnan: 2-2. Blanco + Adi and Niko x 2.

Ruben: I will keep predicting Fire Ws until it happens. 4-3 Fire.

James Bridget: Any other predictions before we do the shift change?

Adnan: I will cry at the game. Win lose or draw.

James Bridget: We’ll be here to support you in your time of need Adnan.

Adnan: I’m so excited the stadium is gonna be half empty cause Loyola are playing at the same time and it’s gonna be pouring rain cannot wait.

RJ: 3-0 Fire. A brace from Niko and a freak goal from Sanchez.

James Bridget: That would be truly banterous RJ.

Right, so, shift change!

Happy WoSo New Year, everyone!

The Red Stars didn’t lose to Houston this year!

We scammed a point!

Claire Watkins: I love thievery.

James Bridget: Taylor Comeau is actually The Hamburglar. Like, this whole time.

Claire: But yeah, watching this game came with the realization that this is maybe who we are now, so let’s lean into it. Just smashin and grabbin til week 5 or so.

James Bridget: AtLeastItsAnEthos dot gif

Claire: I think I underestimated the consolidation of talent in the 9 active NWSL teams before this weekend. Results are gonna be hard to come by, so in that regard I’m happy.

But also...what do you think they were trying to do out there?

James Bridget: I don’t even know. I feel like if they did have a plan it pretty quickly evaporated and then the latter 75 minutes were just like “keep jogging and hope something good happens.” Which actually worked on Sunday! But.

And I definitely agree on talent distribution in the league. I feel like the Red Stars got 10% better in the offseason but everyone else got 15-25% better.

Claire: There are some really stacked teams out there. But in my estimation we don’t have to meet one of them til after the next international break. So there’s time to turn this ship around.

James Bridget: For sure, and in particular there’s time for our injured starters to heal up.

I really feel like we wouldn’t have had nearly as many problems on Sunday if at least Ertz and Short were fit.

Claire: Definitely agree, particularly Short is the one you want trying to contain Rachel Daly when you play Houston.

I keep finding myself wanting more from Danny Colaprico, but I also understand she didn’t have her usual crew out there yesterday.

James Bridget: I definitely get what you’re saying. I’m chalking it up to just having a bad day and that she’ll work her way back into form in the coming weeks, but it’s also something worth keeping an eye on. (I love Danny and really want her to do well.)

Claire: Same! It’s also easy to vent about players when really what they were missing was a game plan.

James Bridget: Yeah this really looked like a team whose pregame strategy talk from Rory was just “try your best and don’t get hurt.”

Claire: Preseason +1

James Bridget: Though I wonder how much of that was Chicago not knowing what to expect from Houston. Their squad is so dang weird right now, a number of SBN WoSo folks were talking about them maybe fielding a 2-1-7 and it sounded kinda plausible. I can’t imagine having to try and come up with a plan to play against them right now, even if you have more confidence in your squad.

Claire: For sure, there was a reason Laura Harvey was there to scout the first half.

James Bridget: Mmhmm.

Frankly I’m just glad we didn’t have to deal with the CP23 Faces Her Former Team narrative.

Claire: Oh yeah it coulda been So Much Worse. I won’t pretend I didn’t even miss having her out there for Chicago. So much of being a follower of the Red Stars for the past couple years has come with ‘Christen! Fix this!’ moments.

James Bridget: Which is also basically where the players and coaches have been at in recent seasons.

Claire: Figure it out, Rory.

James Bridget: I mean, I don’t know, it was clear that Press wasn’t happy here so I’m not sure if the Houston game would’ve been better if she was still on the roster but refusing to play and then announcing the next day that she was going back to Sweden.

Claire: Totally.

James Bridget: I will say though, I am terrified about Saturday. The Thorns have a lot going for them AND they’re going to be grumpy from losing to North Carolina. They’re looking at Saturday’s trip here as an opportunity and that’s, uh, not a great position to be in.

Claire: Oh absolutely, I am REALLY gunning for a 0-0 draw here. Dreaming big.

I think Portland is a couple weeks away from being truly impossible to score on

James Bridget: Yeah they’re lowkey scary this year.

Claire: Do you think CRS gets anyone back this week?

James Bridget: Ertz and Short seem to have the least serious injuries, with sprains in their knee and ankle (respectively). DiBern has a pelvic stress fracture (yikes), Yuki has a hammy issue (oh crap), and Rosie White has something called a navicular fracture.

So unless Australia lets Kerr come back early, I would guess Ertz and Short have the best chances at playing on Saturday. But that feels like a big Maybe.

Claire: First of all, Pelvic Stress Fracture is definitely the name of my vaporwave band

Secondly, damn.

Returns on April 14th seem much more likely. Hopefully Steph Mcaffrey will be over her bug at least.

James Bridget: For real. Also thank goodness for early season bye weeks.

Claire: And sitting out USWNT camps.

James Bridget: Yup!

So are we going for 0-0 here?

Claire: I think we can do it!

James Bridget: I believe in us.

Claire: What is it you said yesterday in the Slack?

Oh, found it.

Clear Eyes

No Goals

Can’t Lose

James Bridget: Slap that on the team crest.