Charleston Battery 0
Chicago Fire 1 Herbers 85’
In the grand scheme of things, the game between the Chicago Fire and Charleston Battery was extremely meaningless. Playing in these tournaments is really just an organized way of getting guaranteed minutes. The results don’t matter. And the last game before the regular season especially doesn’t matter. You’re just trying to get out healthy and unscathed before the job really starts.
It doesn’t really matter that the only way to describe the first half Fire performance was disinterested. They played slow and sloppy. It seemed like every second or third pass was deflected, intercepted, or just plain missed its target.
Yes, there were a few chances; Nemanja Nikolic had a few shots go just wide and Bastian Schweinsteiger hit a rocket right at Charleston goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky in the 40th minute. But other than that, it was awful first half.
It doesn’t really matter that the second half was more of the same. Aside from the first five minutes or so where it was a little better, The passing seemed a bit quicker and the pace was faster, but then, after a while, it turned back into more of the same disinterested football as the first forty five minutes.
At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.
“You play how you practice” is not just a thing that coaches say to make you run harder or be more intense when the cameras are watching. It’s because your mind internalizes performances and repeats them. Humans love patterns, and sport is just one giant pattern of movement and muscle memory. That’s what makes this performance so worrying from the Fire first team, and what gave me hope for the season when the second team came on.
Veljko Paunovic did almost a full squad swap for the last 15 minutes, leaving on the back 4, David Ousted, and Niko. Suddenly, it was a completely different game.
The movement was faster and more crisp. They were closing down attackers and pressuring the ball. The passing was more accurate and tighter. They kept possession, not because of the lethargic Charleston Battery, but because they worked for it. Mo Adams was muscling people off the ball and finding teammates. Fabian Herbers scored the winning goal with an absolute rocket of a shot into the top corner.
But none of this really matters, right?
- I’m not sure I like cranky old man Basti. He showed some of it last year, and I got it. But in a game that doesn’t matter, there’s no need for challenges like that.
- I really think Mo Adams can be a game changer if you let him. Yes it means you have some hard decisions to make in the midfield. But I think Adams is worth it.
- There isn’t really much to take away from that game, as lethargic as it was, but Frankowski impressed me again with his hustle on defense. The team already has a luxury player in Alex Katai, and can’t really afford another.
- A regression from Wednesday from the outside backs is troubling. Hasler is still better than he was last year but it’s less than, and Corrales is still Corrales.
- David Ousted is a real goalkeeper. I’m glad to have him between the sticks.
- I missed Dan Kelly and Frank Klopas, tonight.
The Fire will come out guns blazing next Saturday against the LA Galaxy. They’ll play more like the second half in Carson. At least they better. Because 2019 is here.
Now it matters.