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LA Galaxy 2, Chicago Fire 1: What We Learned

Reflections on the Fire’s season opening loss

MLS: Chicago Fire at LA Galaxy Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Fire’s 2-1 loss to the LA Galaxy on Saturday to start their 2019 MLS season seemed, at first glance, like business as usual.

The Fire scored first. A Diego Polenta back-pass mistake was calmly finished by CJ Sapong for his first goal. LA then proceed to worm their way back into the game with an absolutely magisterial outside of the boot flick cross from sixteen year old phenom, Efrain Alvarez. And Zlatan finished off the match.

So, what did we learn?

The Fire were the better team

Romain Alessandrini’s early exit to injury aside, the Fire were the better team on the pitch. LA led the game in only three statistical categories. They were +2 on corner kicks, one up on saves, and were offside once more than the Fire.

The Fire had five more shots, a higher passing accuracy, and won the possession battle 56.5% to 43.5%. Going forward, the Fire should not have problems winning games with performances like this, and it should only get better with Nemanja Nikolic back in the lineup. (Congratulations to him and his wife on the birth of their child, by the way.)

Frankowski is the real deal

With no real idea of what he would bring to the table, I had no inclination going into the season of how good Przemysław Frankowski really was. His one preseason appearance I saw against Charleston didn’t impress me much. But this game was a revelation. He’s fast. And not just “soccer fast.”

He’s legitimately quick with and without the ball. He’s fearless. He runs at defenders and has the ball skills to go successfully around or through them. His link-up play with Aleksandar Katai and Djordje Mihailovic is promising. It’s only a matter of time before things get rolling and he starts scoring and assisting on multiple goals a game. He won our Man of the Match vote, and I expect him to win many more this season.

The Fire have a real goalkeeper

After years of floundering around and looking outside the league for solutions, the Fire finally got themselves a proven MLS goalkeeper in David Ousted. And boy does it feel good. Ousted only had three official saves, but he had more impact on the game then that. The defense was more organized then they have been in a long time and were able to keep LA’s dangermen under control for most of the game. He also did this:

Diego Campos did fine. Jorge Corrales did not

The biggest question mark going into the season was “what’s going to happen at fullback?” And the answer seems to be “whatever that was.”

Diego Campos was fine if unspectacular. He had some real good recovery runs, making some last minute tackles to stop crosses from coming into the box, and never really let Emmanuel Boateng have his way with him. He also didn’t really make many mistakes. He was quiet but serviceable.

On the other hand, something needs to be done about Corrales. Those +2 corners LA had? They were a direct result of Corrales either not listening or not hearing Ousted calling him off the ball and giving them up. One even led to the tying goal. He either has to get exponentially better in a week— as he has to go up against Nani— or the Fire need to have someone else play there. At this point, it doesn’t matter who. Anyone is better.

So that’s what we learned. Hit us up with what you learned about the team in the comments below.