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Roundtable: Now What?

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The Hot Time crew discusses the Galaxy loss, the win in Utah, backstage drama, and making do

MLS: Los Angeles Galaxy at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

James Bridget Gordon: Happy Monday, everyone. Zlatan and the Galaxy came to visit this weekend and it went... about as well as you’d expect.

Is there anything the Fire could’ve done different? Or was this game always going to be a wash?

Adnan Bašić: Pauno got the starting XI all wrong.

Kap doesn’t work at wingback. Collier doesn’t work at CM. Gordon doesn’t work as a starter. Tchani doesn’t work anywhere. And Katai not starting was a real bad call.

Ruben Tisch: Alan Gordon was a mistake. thinking Pauno was going to play rookies in a contract year was a mistake. Katai not starting was a mistake.

James Bridget: Right, but given our current squad, is there any combination of players that we have right now that could’ve gotten a result against the Galaxy?

Saul Garcia: I still dislike the formation change. That and why Katai is benched again.

Ruben: Probably the one that finished the game.

Saul: A more attack-minded lineup could have worked better, especially at home and against a weak defensive team.

Adnan: I don’t think the Galaxy are that good where we just have to accept a loss.

James Bridget: I’m skeptical about the notion that starting Katai would’ve swung things in our favor, but I’d definitely rather have him playing than Alan Gordon. It’s not just that he was bad, lots of players can be bad without necessarily making the situation worse. Alan Gordon made things worse. When the PBP commentator openly muses whether a player realizes which team he’s playing for, you know you have a problem.

Sean Spence: Repeatedly! And with good reason!

I’d be fine with Alan Gordon never appearing for the Fire again.

James Bridget: Seconded.

Ruben: Thirded.

James Bridget: I can already feel the inchoate rage from CF97 Twitter over a player they all know very well sucks but have latched onto anyway just to trigger the libs.

So up til now I’ve been giving the Fire (and Pauno and N-Rod) the benefit of the doubt. That this was just a difficult start to the season, that the transfer window didn’t work out the way they hoped, that the injuries stacked up, etc.

But I found Dax’s comments over the weekend very, uh, interesting. When the team captain is going up to reporters and saying that the reason they’re struggling is that they’re just not good enough, I feel like you have bigger problems than just injuries and missed signings.

Ruben: I don’t really know what more there is to say. There’s been organizational strife for a decade, that can only probably be solved with new ownership, but AH doesn’t want to sell.

Adnan: There’s just so many unanswered questions at this point. It’s going to be really interesting to see this team in a tough road game on Saturday. Although I think we’ll get lucky with playing Toronto before they’ve got the CL final.

Ruel Gutierrez Apostol: I wonder if there is some beef between Pauno and Katai.

Adnan: There has to be some sort of disconnect.

Sean: The structural flaws in the Fire as an organization - the alienated fanbase, the infrastructure shortfalls, the smoke-and mirrors revenue streams - are the kind of fundamentals that cannot be addressed with cosmetics or customer-service initiatives. My guess is that Rodriguez - who was ‘happy with the history of the spend’ when hired - learned a few hard lessons over the last six months, and one of those lessons was ‘the money they said would be there won’t necessarily be there.’

So how can the players not see it? The leaders - Basti, Dax, Niko, Kappelhof - have played at clubs with some of the finest training facilities in world football: Bayern, Ajax, even freakin’ New York Red Bull. They see David Accam get sold and no money spent to replace him. They see a club that was a piece or two away last year go backwards, and time is never on the players’ side.

I’ll say this for Dax: He’s got almost nothing to lose by telling the truth about this Fire franchise. He didn’t choose to join us - he was traded during his honeymoon, just after signing a deal with the league that he thought would see him maybe retire in the Red Bull shirt. He’ll be a free agent when this deal is done, on the back side of his career. The question he has to ask himself is, will MLS blackball him for telling the truth about a guy like Hauptman, who has a track record of taking criticism very personally? (I can attest.)

Katai has a track record of beefing in basically every direction, and Pauno is an alpha-dog type, so it’s not super surprising.

But I think more generally what we’re getting at is that Pauno is Losing The Dressing Room.

Adnan: So there’s two big questions then:

Is Pauno on the hot seat?

and

Should Pauno be on the hot seat?

RJ: I think he’s been on the hot seat for a while. Ever since the collapse last summer.

Sean: For me, he should be. He needs to get his ideas bashed in a bit, because he’s letting his ego get in the way to a degree that’s just not sustainable unless you’re some kind of inspirational genius, which he is not.

Adnan: I agree. You can’t put out a starting XI like that and get away with it.

Sean: Is he? It depends how much heat the front office feels. N-Rod will throw him under the bus at the first sign of serious unrest, imo.

Adnan: I think N-Rod has/had a lot of faith in Pauno and still believes that he can turn it around.

RJ: I think Pauno can still turn things around before it is way too late if he can regain the dressing room.

Adnan: I think Pauno is demonstrating the biggest problem in the transition from coaching youth players to coaching professionals.

RJ: Yeah. He’s probably treating everyone like children.

Adnan: If only Serbia took him away in the winter. Is Caleb Porter still open?

RJ: Worse comes to worse, I’d be down for an interim Bast player-manager. It’s not like we have nothing else to lose.

Adnan: At least he’d play himself in the correct position.

James Bridget: Dan Kelly and Frankie Klopas as commentator-managers.

RJ: I’ll declare myself as ice cream nachos eating-manager.

James Bridget: Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Adnan: Is this the part where we do score predictions? Cause we might see a doomsday-like result if things go bad.

James Bridget: I mean, it can be.

Adnan: Like I can imagine NYRB putting 4-5 past us.

RJ: Against RBNY? I’d say 2-0 for New York - Tchani will score an OG. TFC? We’ll scrape out a meme win somehow.

Adnan: If TFC rests everyone— which they should— I’m gonna throw out:

NYRB 3 (BWP, BWP, Rivas) Fire 1 (Dax)

And then a 1-1 vs Toronto with Agexte and Katai grabbing the goals

James Bridget: My prediction for NYRB this weekend is sadness. That’s all I’ve got.

Adnan: A smart bet.

RJ: Upcoming transfer window will be filled with sadness.

James Bridget: You know what’s NOT filled with sadness though?

The Chicago Red Stars.

Who JUST won their first game of the season by beating Utah in their first ever home game!

Claire Watkins: I am revived, revitalized and rejuvenated

James Bridget: And you didn’t even need to go on a juice cleanse.

Sandra Herrera: Here to scam inaugural home openers, tbh.

RJ: The Royals have a pretty nice logo tbh.

Sandra: It’s alright. Not as decent as Chicago, but it’ll do.

James Bridget: It’s alright I suppose. Wasn’t enough to get them that W though.

Claire: If the Red Stars bad habits can still get them W’s, then I guess I can be ok with mine

But yeah, Royals seem great for he league and I relished taking 3 points from them.

James Bridget: Scam Gang Strikes Again

Sandra: Always rep the Gang. Gang Gang Gang (scam)

Claire: Chicago is here to Steal

This really was a bread and butter game for the Red Stars, which is encouraging considering they really didn’t get many pieces back.

Sandra: My fave part was when they got the win in front of 19k booing fans. Boo’s are fuel for the scam.

James Bridget: For sure.

Yuki did okay, I think. She’s not at 100% yet but I think she slotted in as our #9 pretty well.

Claire: I think what she did best was take some heat off Huerta, who was instrumental in getting that clearance for Colaprico to leave a fun ball size heat circle in Utah’s net.

Sandra: Huerta out here doing that quiet muscle and hustle work. Which is working for a very short handed Red Stars.

My fave part was Colaprico passing off to Gilliland, who sent a great ball through to Huerta, who dragged 3 defenders towards her and laid it off to Mautz, who served it in the box, that was weakly cleared away, that Colaprico finished off in Goal of the Week fashion.

Yeah, that was cool.

Adriana Hooper: For me Yuki was the spark difference it seemed though even not at 100%. They seemed to connect a lot better too.

I think Huerta leads the league in assists right now too if I’m not mistaken too!

That goal was just <chef’s kiss>

James Bridget: Whatever happens this season, Colaprico gave us that goal, and I am grateful.

Claire: Speaking of scamming, Sam Johnson maybe got away with one in the box there early on.

James Bridget: She sure did!

Sandra: Sam Johnson a backline gangster.

Adriana: It was a close one that’s for sure! On replay, I think it was probably the right call not to give it but I wouldn’t have been surprised to see it happen. A bit reckless.

Also how about Comeau in this game? Thought she was a big asset.

Claire: She’s gonna be so hard to put on the bench when all the starters are back.

James Bridget: Who knows, she might keep her spot.

Claire: It’s pretty great when a utility player like that gets an inch and takes a full mile.

Adriana: Definitely. A decision coming there.

Claire: Another thing I like about this weekend is the commitment to the 4-3-3. Could’ve been a bit easier with Utah not having a ton of firepower up front but Chicago is still here to play a different style than last year, even if it gets weird.

James Bridget: I’m all about getting weird at this point.

Claire: Oh, this week is gonna get w e i r d

Houston round 2 on Wednesday, and Sky Blue at home on Saturday. If CRS can get 3 or 4 points out of those games, I’ll be thrilled.

Sandra: A couple home games I plan to freeze at, so never forget I always had mad love for you all and remember to Scam. <100 emoji>

James Bridget: I feel like we should get a win out of at least one of these games, but I couldn’t tell you how exactly that will happen.

Claire: Chicago vs Sky Blue is gonna be really interesting in particular. That’s a team the Red Stars should handle, but who could give them a serious headache.

Colaprico vs McCaskill, a bout for the ages.