There weren’t any mailbag questions this week, which is completely understandable, There are more important things going on in the world.
The Chicago Fire were officially eliminated from playoff contention Wednesday night after losing 2-0 to New York City FC. It was only a matter of time, of course. Observers knew this team was never going to make the playoffs once June rolled around and the team revealed themselves to largely have regressed from last year.
So now we have to ask ourselves, “What’s next?” Where does the club go from here? Who’s staying and who’s going? That sort of thing. I don’t know if I have any answers, but I certainly have some opinions.
I’ve done a complete 180 on the coaching staffs on both sides of town this year. Last week, I explained my turnaround on Rory Dames. I went from thinking he should be replaced to wanting him to be kept around. It’s the complete opposite for Velko Paunovic. The turning point for me was Wednesday’s halftime substitutions— putting in DeLeeuw and Mihailovic for Conner and Bronico. Those subs were not only the wrong moves, but they also cost them the game. The Fire put up a good organized defensive strategy in the first half that also gave them some half decent attacking opportunities as well. But making the subs at halftime created holes and disorganization that led to the goals NYCFC scored.
If Pauno goes, than N-Rod has to go too. On-field, those two are linked at the hip. It is Nelson Rodriguez’ organizational failures that lead to this poor season. It’s Nelson Rodriguez who didn’t sign the players that were needed to build upon last year. It’s Nelson Rodriguez who was duped into believing they were getting Juan Quintero. Nelson Rodriguez has shown himself vulnerable to be taken advantage of in pursuit of good PR. Nelson Rodriguez deserves to be relieved of his duties based on his team’s on-field performance. This says nothing of his off-field handling of the media and fans, which should be disqualifying even if the Fire were having a good season.
Ultimately, this is year is a failure. We can’t exactly do a full autopsy on the body until it’s completely cooled off, but the preliminary results are in. Pauno and N-Rod have to go.