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Orlando City 2, Chicago Fire 5: What We Learned

The Fire close out a difficult 2019 season with an emphatic win on the road

MLS: Chicago Fire at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For better or worse, the 2019 season is finally over.

We’ll have more to say on the season as a whole— a lot more— but for now we want to focus on this last game, which saw a surprisingly emphatic win on the road.

Here’s our takeaways from the Chicago Fire’s 5-2 win over Orlando City.

Where Have You Guys BEEN

It’s not just that they won at all, which was an exceedingly rare occurrence this season.

It’s that they won on the road. This in a season where they were nursing a winless road streak that stretched back into 2018. Getting points away from home has been an unattainable goal for this team for a while. (It would’ve been one thing to drop points on the road so often if they managed to turn Bridgeview into a fortress. That, uh, did not happen.) So the fact that they were able to win, and win so solidly, in someone else’s house? That’s refreshing.

An Uncommonly Strong Second Half

There’s also something to be said for the fact that they managed to pop their clutch late in the game.

This is a team that tends to fade in the second half. That’s why Pauno’s oft-used strategy to bunker down and defend slim leads or tied scores tends to go poorly.

But look at the scoreline. The Fire only got on the board in the first half because of an own goal. They didn’t kick into gear until the hour mark. And once they did, they were unstoppable.

That’s exactly the kind of fight I want to see from this team. That’s what I want to see more of in 2020. We won’t win every game like that, but I want us to be known as a team that never fucking quits.

Looking Ahead

Speaking of 2020:

Pauno didn’t Play The Kids, as we implored him to do last week on The North Lot. But the game did serve as an opportunity to think about who we should retain for next year and maybe build around.

For me, Przemysław Frankowski absolutely has to be part of the equation for next year. There were games where he struggled this year, for sure, but when he was on it, he was on it. Both of his goals yesterday were absolutely brilliant. If we can get more like that out of him going forward, 2020 should see some marked improvement.

I know Ruben isn’t very high up on him right now, but I would also say that Nico Gaitán should be part of the mix for next year. It’s worth noting that Gaitán has 12 assists in 2019. That puts him in the top five individual single-season assists leaders in Chicago; tied for fourth with Peter Nowak’s 1998 season, and only two behind Nowak’s 2000 season and Jerzy Podbrozny’s 1998 season. And keep in mind: Gaitán joined the team after the season started. Imagine if we had him for a full preseason.

Finally, I’d love to see CJ Sapong come back. As accomplished veterans with strong locker room presences go, we could (and have) done much worse.

What were your takeaways from the game? Let us know in the comments below.