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N’importe Quoi: Montreal Impact 2, Chicago Fire 1, MLS Game Recap

The Fire extend their losing streak to eight games

MLS: Chicago Fire at Montreal Impact Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Impact 2 Piatti 6’ (PK), Lovitz 90’+1

Chicago Fire 1 Nikolic 70’

We’re firmly in the #Whatevering part of the season and it feels pretty bad.

I don’t think anyone was particularly surprised at the result, or that the Fire extended their losing streak to eight games with no apparent end in sight. But this team still finds ways to make it hurt. For everyone, it seems.

One of the key problems with dysfunctional sports organizations is that there’s no real mechanism for accountability. This is how you get people at the top, people best placed to affect necessary changes, casting themselves as victims with no real agency to address issues. Veljko Paunovic feels as helpless as all of us.

I empathize with Pauno. I also don’t give a fuck anymore.

So this is our new setup, huh? 3-4-2-1, with only one natural CB on the back line, and freaking Nico Hasler getting starting minutes. I want to laugh at the state of the roster, because it’s better than crying, but I just can’t quite manage it. Lots of staring into the middle distance here at HTIOT HQ, is what I’m saying.

But hey, Djordie’s back!

The lineup was one thing. A lot of my early dread was sourced to the referee assignments. Baldomero Toledo is bad at his job, and when he refs Fire games there’s always some amount of fuckery. So of course Montreal were awarded a soft penalty in the 5th minute when Saphir Taïder went down in the box from a bump by Bastian Schweinsteiger . It was inevitable. Ignacio Piatti converted it, obviously, putting the Fire at a disadvantage almost right out of the gate.

I wish I could say the Fire found their stride and started to fight back after that early penalty. But, regardless of what Veljko Paunovic says in press conferences or players say in midweek video #content, this is a team that’s given up. They’re trying to put up a good show, but they’ve seen the writing on the wall, same as all of us. That or they just don’t have any more fight left in them. Either way, Montreal took control and didn’t give it up. Schweinsteiger nearly gifted the Impact a second goal with an almost own goal, cleared off the line in the nick of time by Nemanja Nikolic. (Our center forward is doing double duty as a central defender, because that’s just where we’re at as a team right now.)

The rest of the half was mostly boring, punctuated by moments of sheer terror. The fear came courtesy of Piatti, a player the Fire FO reportedly pursued and were spurned. Absent signing Piatti, the Fire could’ve done well enough if Mo Adams were in the midfield marking him out. Alas, Adams is in Tulsa, because Pauno doesn’t know what to do with our talented young players.

A demoralized Fire squad went into the tunnel down 1-0. There was a sense that the worst was yet to come.

The Fire did get a nice moment early in the second half. Nikolic got a good run in on goal and hit a low shot at the far post. Evan Bush had to dive to push it off course and into touch. The Fire should’ve gotten a corner out of it, but they didn’t, because Baldomero Toledo.

Chicago couldn’t build any momentum from that play and the #Whatevering resumed right away. Montreal would create opportunities while the Fire scramble to compose themselves. They’d get the ball back and then get stymied in the middle of the park. Not quite the worst version of themselves, but steadily approaching it.

None of that was necessarily changed by Niko’s equalizer in the 70th minute. The goal was, frankly, a fluke. A welcome fluke, but a fluke nonetheless.

Just a few minutes later, Michael de Leeuw came this close to giving the Fire the late lead with a far post shot that mirrored Niko’s near the start of the second half. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe this team had some fight left after all.

At the very least, the last 20 minutes or so of the game weren’t boring. There was some good back and forth, the Fire creating a few more chances to counterbalance their ongoing defensive scrambling. The Fire getting a winner— or at least holding on for a point— didn’t seem like such a pipe dream. Maybe they can pull something off after all.

Nikolic came off in the 88th minute for Drew Conner. The star CF for a midfielder. Pauno was playing for a draw.

In general I support locking your shit down and getting the result however you can. For most teams, it’s not a bad idea. For a team as defensively shaky as the Fire, playing this way is just asking for it.

Sure enough, Montreal got their stoppage time gamewinner, thanks to Daniel Lovitz.

It’s the hope that kills you.

So this is where we are. Eight losses in a row. One more game before the long break and no reason to think it’ll stretch to nine. Welcome to the Long March.

The Chicago Fire (6W 5D 15L, 23pts, 11th in the Eastern Conference) are back at home on Thursday when they face Columbus— possibly for the last time.