James Bridget Gordon: Happy September, everyone.
If you were a Fire player, where would you have gone on vacation these past few weeks? And on a scale of 1-10, how lit would your Instagram be?
Adnan Bašić: Would’ve gone to Australia and shut off any sort of social media. So not very lit at all.
James Bridget: I’m disappointed by the lack of shenanigans on display here.
Ruben Tisch: Like a 2... Unless you like pictures with Disney Princesses and characters from Winnie the Pooh.
James Bridget: Into it, tbh.
Anywho, we’re coming up on the end of the Fire’s inexplicable weeks-long midseason break. Not a whole lot has been going on-- Kevin Ellis signed with DCU, Nico Hasler has evidently been playing great for Lichtenstein over the international break. No major upheavals, thankfully.
The Fire are back this weekend, playing at home to Orlando. There’s nothing on the line except maybe avoiding finishing last. Does that actually matter though? Does anything matter about this game?
Ruben: I’ll keep banging the drum on the most important thing to be watching out for is individual performances. Technical skill, positioning, soccer IQ, ect.
James Bridget: Right, I mean obviously everyone’s playing for their jobs. (Assuming they still want them here.)
Adnan: I’m only bothered about this game because I absolutely hate Orlando. And to finish last behind them would be a nightmare. But other than that I just want to see certain players show their stuff, ie Adams and Lillard.
James Bridget: I’d like to not finish last. If the club actually valued draft picks as anything other than a means of acquiring more TAM/GAM, I’d be down with tanking. As it is, we’re getting the worst of all worlds here.
Adnan: Fire lose 4-3 in the most heartbreaking of fashions. Like I don’t know how but I know it’s gonna hurt really really bad. Like Cam Lindley scoring the winner bad.
James Bridget: That’s pretty bleak.
Adnan: It’s been that kind of season.
James Bridget: I think the Fire will lose but not quite so dramatically. 1-0 or 2-1. Maybe even 3-1 if the Fire back line is still on vacation hangover.
Adnan: If the Fire can’t score on a historically bad Orlando defense then I’ll just give up completely on this club.
James Bridget: I suspect you’re not alone.
Alright, shift change!
Actually before we get into playoff hype we should talk a little bit about the Utah game.
Sandra Herrera: It happened.
James Bridget: It definitely happened.
Sandra: MUH FUKIN PLAYOFFS BISH
James Bridget: FUGGIN
Claire Watkins: Can confirm, there was a game in Utah.
WASN’T A PLAYOFF THO
Sandra: Red Stars lost their final regular season match up to Utah 2-1, but it was good to see Sam Kerr out away that slam dunk header to all but lock up the golden boot.
James Bridget: That goal was just, like. Kerr flexing on the whole league.
Claire: My only other thought about that game before we move on to bigger and better things is that Christen Press really wasn’t a factor at all. Shoulda known it’d be Katie Stengel wrecking us eventually.
James Bridget: Troof.
Sandra: I low key wanted a Press hat trick. Can’t front. But Stengel has certainly done the thing for Utah this year.
All in all I think it was a good game for CRS team B to get a run out on. It allowed for some match scenarios the team might see in the semis, and it was good for Naeher to get another club match under her belt coming out of a National Team camp/friendly before heading into NWSL playoffs.
Claire: I loved Naeher getting her desperation kick drills in every chance she got. Gotta practice your Hail Mary’s.
James Bridget: One thing that stuck out for me is just how important Casey Short is to this defense. Looking at this back line in the first part of the season when she was injured, then the defense after she came back, then on Saturday when she sat out. The difference in both performance and results is pretty stark. Same with Julie Ertz, but she’s a bit of a floater positionally, whereas Short as a defender is settled law.
Claire: I think if Danny Colaprico and Morgan Brian play the whole game, it’s likely not a loss, but I definitely agree. Elby looked like she was working on hobbled legs out there too. Respect for going out there and taking one for the team.
James Bridget: Absolutely. And yeah, I’m bringing up Short here but she’s by far not the only “difference maker” in the team. Dani Colaprico’s absence is definitely felt when she doesn’t start. Same with Vanessa DiBernardo.
On the one hand I love how this team functions as a unit and how they all add up to more than the sum of their parts. On the other hand, it means you can only really afford to lose one, maybe two members of that core.
Claire: I think we have to be prepared to not have Short available on Sunday.
James Bridget: Agreed. If she’s the only absence I think we’ll be ok. But it’ll be tight.
Claire: Which, considering how Elby is holding up, might signal the return of:
**PEW PEW** Sarah Gorden! Outside Back!
James Bridget: WHOADANG
I mean it would work. Naughton and Ertz central, Gorden and Gilliland out wide. I think that’s a solid wall.
Claire: I think this semifinal is gonna be a tough ask no matter what. But I’m excited to see the Red Stars make it A Game.
James Bridget: For sure. Last year, and I think the year before too, the Red Stars went into the playoffs tired and limping. When they lost their semifinals I was sad but not really surprised. This year they’re up for a fight, and I’m here for it.
Sandra: Here for pace v pace at outside back, tbh. It’ll be good to see both these teams battle it out. Once everything gets figured out with this Hurricane Florence business, of course.
James Bridget: Sandra would you say that we’re monitoring the situation?
Sandra: I gotta say, this is the hottest collaboration of all time.
Claire: The Red Stars and Weather?
James Bridget: That mixtape would definitely slap.
I don’t want to ask for predictions because I’m too afraid of jinxing. So I’ll just ask: what are you looking forward to most on Sunday?
Claire: The buildup mostly. It’s gonna be a fun week.
Really just trying to enjoy what got the Red Stars to this point, and feelings strong going into the match as the underdog. The ScamGang rides again.
James Bridget: A day may come when the power of the scam fails. When we forsake our friends and break all bonds of FamGang.
But it is not this day.
Sandra: Gonna enjoy the week, and the fact that we get to produce more content about this team that made it’s way into the playoffs.
I also don’t really have any predictions, just vibes. The Red Stars have been through a lot this season and if they want to be champions, they’re literally going to have to go through the eye of a hurricane in order to have a shot.
It’s gonna be wild to watch.