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Roundtable: Highs And Lows

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The Hot Time crew runs the emotional gamut as we discuss the Fire’s dropped points against Columbus and the Red Stars’ big win over Orlando

Photo by Adnan Basic

James Bridget Gordon: Happy Monday, all.

Let’s try to get this started on a positive note. Did you see anything encouraging from the Fire-Crew game on Thursday?

Ruel Gutierrez Apostol: Hello from the land of Chivas USA.

Only positive I saw was that we got a point.

Ruben Tisch: Stefan Cleveland played really well in net. And I was impressed with MDLs workrate, as always.

RJ: I think Cleveland should be guarding the net for the remaining games.

Adnan Bašić: Only good thing is a point put us ahead of Orlando. And the only thing I want out of this season is to finish ahead of them. Because I hate Orlando with an unnecessary passion.

Ruben: Also, Mo Adams was phenomenal. I can’t stress how good he was in his 25 minutes.

James Bridget: Completely agree.

Adnan: Man-marking expert.

RJ: Mo - Dax - Basti mids is bliss,

Ruben: I think the important thing to remember is that results don’t matter, now. It’s all about individual performances when evaluating games.

Adnan: And finishing ahead of Orlando.

Ruben: Couldn’t care less about that tbh.

Adnan: It’s def a personal thing.

James Bridget: It’s looking like we’re not going to get the Wooden Spoon this season, only because San Jose are awful. Truly awful.

Adnan: Do we get a spoon of different material if were last in the conference? Styrofoam?

Ruben: Plastic Spork.

RJ: Presented by Fire legend Shaun Maloney.

James Bridget: Oh no. In this moment, we need a true warrior who upholds the values of Tradition Honor Passion.

I’m referring of course... to Sherjil MacDonald.

Ruben: Sherjil at least tried hard.

James Bridget: lol no he didn’t.

Ruben: Sometimes.

Am I confusing Him with Juan Luis Anongano again? That happens.

James Bridget: I think so, yeah. JLA definitely did try. Sherjill pointedly did not. Klopas would tell him to hustle more and he’d be all “don’t tell me what to do.”

Let’s also not forget when he got mad about being subbed out and took his time leaving the pitch and Logan Pause had to physically usher him toward the touchline. Dude almost got into a fist fight with the captain in the middle of a game that the team had to win because he’s a big baby.

Ruben: Logan Pause was a saint.

Adnan: I do miss him a bit ngl.

James Bridget: When Sherjill awards the Plastic Spork he’ll hand out vape pens instead of medals.

Ruben: Idk about the rest of you, but remembering the worst times makes me think that this isn’t so bad. Even though it’s just as bad.

Adnan: It’s not nearly as bad on the field. But the off the field stuff make it seem that way.

Ruben: That’s true. Brian Bliss sucked. But he never banned SL.

James Bridget: Some folks point to 2013 and The Editorial as the last time things were “bad.” (There’s the in-stadium protest but I argue that it was really just unresolved shit from previous years.) The Editorial was dumb but I also think it was blown out of proportion. The outrage was bigger than the offense.

What’s been happening this season is so much worse. Not just the thing itself-- it’s the FO’s complete refusal to engage with supporters and media. They tell people not to believe what they see on social media and to reach out to club officials to get the real story, and then when they do it’s either silence or flat-out “we don’t owe you an explanation.”

Ruben: It’s truly truly awful.

James Bridget: And like, they can’t even justify this as being a business decision. Their announced attendance for Thursday was 8000 and change. In terms of butts in seats it was 5000, tops. It’s their call if they want to treat the Chicago Fire Soccer Club as a purely profit-generating enterprise that doesn’t give a fuck about their customers or stakeholders, but if they’re going to do that they need to actually bring in that profit. Gate revenue is way down, sponsors are looking for the exits, we still have one of the highest payroll budgets in the league. Where is this new money going to come from?

Ruben: Sacramento. Or he’s finally looking to sell and cash out.

James Bridget: Right, yeah, this all makes sense if the endgame is moving the team or cashing out. But I’m saying, what if that’s not what’s going on? What if their plan is to stay here and build a “winning” team and make money, and they think the smart way to go about that is making it hard to watch the team and going to war with their most dedicated supporters and selling off the academy?

Ruben: Then they’re the dumbest people alive. The kind only found in the Republican Party and slasher movies.

James Bridget: Well, the Republican Party isn’t dumb. They’re just cruel and self-serving.

Adnan: It’s gotten to the point where there has to be something going on. They can’t possibly be this bad.

James Bridget: But that’s what I’m saying-- what if they ARE this bad?

Ruben: Then the league has to do something. It’s on New York to fix this problem.

Adnan: Didn’t the league appoint NRod?

James Bridget: Hauptman appointed N-Rod. The scuttlebutt is that the league leaned heavy on him to do that.

Ruben: They strongly suggested him for general manager.

AH decided to promote him to be in charge of the non soccer side, too. If he was still in charge of the soccer side only, I don’t think we’d be in this mess

Adnan: So without trying to get too into a conspiracy theory— any chance MLS sent him to get relocation going. Like clear out the fire and start over with a new Chicago team.

James Bridget: It’s hard to say because that theory has been around ever since he joined the organization. When your last high-profile gig is taking over Chivas USA for the expressed purpose of closing down the shop, people are going to talk when you move to a new MLS team.

But as was said earlier, a lot of what the organization has been doing makes the most sense if viewed through the lens of moving or folding the franchise.

And there’s a lot of variables that point to this. Ricketts FC. The Fire’s bad reputation; whether it’s true or not, the Fire has a reputation for being a toxic workplace, such that people don’t want to work here and players don’t want to play here. It’s why we have to get so many players and staff from outside the US, no one who’s been in MLS for a minute wants to go near this organization. Logan Pause, longtime club servant, spent, what, a year? two? in the FO before saying “fuck this.”

Adnan: Clint Mathis as well. So we can guarantee a cheap unknown European coach coming in for next season.

James Bridget: Yeah. The on-pitch stuff is just a symptom of the larger problem. CFSC is a toxic work environment and anyone in or near MLS knows it. There’s no good way of fixing that. Even if Hauptman sells it’s not going to go away anytime soon. Toxic organizational culture lingers for years. There might not be any good solution except to shut it down and start over.

Which... I hate saying this, because I love the Fire.

But I just don’t know how to fix this.

Anyway, how about this Basti testimonial, eh?

I know I’m excited to spend $20 on a streaming service nobody’s ever heard of just so I can watch a meaningless midseason friendly.

Ruben: ResidentSleeper

James Bridget: Huh?

Ruben: It’s the Twitch emote for boring.

Adnan: Great news then JBG! It’s now only TEN! TEN DOLLARS ONLY TO WATCH THE FIRE GET SMASHED TO BITS BY A BAYERN B TEAM

I hope they score 45 on us.

James Bridget: You heard it here first, folks!

Alright, last thing. The Fire aren’t playing another competitive-- I use that word loosely-- game until September 16th. How are you spending your late summer vacation?

Adnan: Well I’ve just started sophomore year at Roosevelt today so I’ll just be making sure I get off to a decent start to the school year

James Bridget: Word

Adnan: Altho I say that while I’m about to watch the United v Spurs game in class.

James Bridget: smh

RJ: Mourinho for the Fire.

James Bridget: NO

DON’T EVEN JOKE ABOUT THAT

Adnan: AT LEAST WE’D BE ABLE TO DEFEND

James Bridget: They shipped three goals against Brighton & Hove Albion. The bus is a myth.

Ruben: Overwatch, Magic, trying to find a real job. The usual.

Also building a PC.

Adnan: Literally kept the most clean sheets last year.

Me defending him is gonna look great after Kane scores 4 on us today.

James Bridget: lol

RJ: “Us” huh - what part of old trafford are you from m8

James Bridget: u wot

Adnan: I watched a season of Moyes and two seasons of LVG. I’ve paid my dues.

James Bridget: You’re also a Fire fan. So, masochist, innit.

RJ: LOUIS VAN GAAL ARMY

Adnan: It’s not the best time

Ruben: Roots for the winningist team in the EPL, says he paid his dues after 3 mediocre seasons.

Adnan: United finished 7th and 6th ffs.

Ruben: That’s the definition of mediocre.

James Bridget: You know who’s NOT mediocre though? The Chicago Red Stars.

SHIFT CHANGE

So yeah, wow, Sam Kerr is pretty great.

Ruben: Nice segue.

James Bridget: Thank you, I try.

Claire Watkins: Saturday was pretty fun, not gonna lie.

Sandra Herrera: Shout out to Chicago Local 134 and AJ Hudson’s for letting us crash the watch party on Saturday. Whatta Match.

James Bridget: I was so nervous heading into Saturday. The Red Stars NEEDED to win, the season has been so weird and hard already, and the last time we played Orlando we got walloped. But they won it, and pretty comfortably. This was exactly what they needed, both in terms of results and building confidence ahead of a (possible? likely?) postseason run.

Sandra: I think the general consensus was that the team needed to get out of Orlando with a win. They’ve been undefeated in their last 3 matches, but also haven’t had a win since July 14th. It was good to see the team come away with a win after the performances they’ve been putting out. Would love to see another complete game from the squad before the regular season ends.

Claire: It was a weird game, to be honest.

Chicago’s performance looked pretty much in line with the past three - dangerous up front, solid in the back, but still prone to being stretched when they aren’t paying attention. However, Orlando isn’t as good as the last three teams the Red Stars had just played, so the game itself played out pretty comfortably after the 44th minute or so.

James Bridget: Chicago under Rory Dames is definitely a Stay The course kind of team, I think. And the games they struggle in most are the ones where the opposition has figured them out. Orlando just didn’t seem to have a plan beyond “get the ball to AM.”

Claire: Orlando never finds Alex Morgan though - their one goal back was definitely an anomaly for their season - which is probably one of their bigger issues going into the offseason.

The Marta/Morgan goal against was a good one, though. A reminder of simpler times for the Pride.

As for Chicago’s performance, 3-1 is a fair score line but within the performance it would’ve been better to finish one more of the bajillion chances in the first half rather than wait for Alanna Kennedy to forget how to play soccer later in the game.

I’m nit-picking though. The Red Stars are just one point out of a possible six away from poppin those postseason bottles and that’s pretty great.

Sandra: The goal from Morgan/Marta in the 65th minute almost felt like parting gift at the conclusion of the game. Definitely 2 teams in two different places at this point in the season.

James Bridget: I had spent a lot of April and May emotionally preparing for the Red Stars not making the postseason this year. To be in this position is just a huge relief.

Claire: They definitely got some help, but they’re also definitely one of the four best teams in the league at this moment, so it feels like the universe is leaning towards balance.

James Bridget: I’m hesitant to talk about the postseason now, because we’re not there yet and it hasn’t been kind to us in the past. But Claire, judging by your game recap from Saturday you seem pretty bullish.

Claire: It’d take an unprecedented collapse, particularly against Sky Blue, for it not to happen. But I’m also actively trying a little bit more to be excited about the end to this season. We’ve been (understandably) hedging a lot of bets all year, and it might just be time to go all in.

Sandra: From Scamgang to Famgang? Here for it.

James Bridget: I think I’m ready. Especially considering how things are with the other big Chicago team. I need something to believe in.

So we’re not doing a Roundtable next week, which means we should talk about the Sky Blue game. We gotta win this, right? Or at least get a draw?

Claire: I guess it isn’t technically a must win, since at least a point against Utah would also do the trick, but it certainly seems like the best opportunity to just get it over with. They just have to not lose, which they’ve never done against Sky Blue.

Sandra: Sky Blue has always had a difficult time against Chicago, and after their last match against Houston? y i k e s. Of course anything is possible in NWSL, and I think for Chicago’s general sanity, the vibe is just to seal things up with this match.

James Bridget: For sure. I guess the Must Win aspect for me is less about playoff math and more that it’s, you know, Sky Blue.

Claire: I think they can get it done, for sure.

Sandra: Same. Wouldn’t mind another Boyd shutout at all.