The Chicago Fire have won a match, and did it in a relatively dominant fashion. This is not an April Fools Day joke. A spectacular goal from Nemanja Nikolic, which was unfairly ruled a Tim Parker own goal, was the difference. And we saw some season and career debut’s too! This is what we learned.
Mo Adams Is Who We Thought He Was
Mo Adams got his first start of the season Saturday, and like most of us at this sight predicted and hoped, he dominated the midfield on the way to the man of the match performance.
His performance is a bit of a double edged sword, to be quite honest. On the one hand, it was legitimately excellent, the kind of performance that can make you take notice and really understand what defensive midfielders do and are all about. He was a brick wall, winning duels and never letting anyone get by him on the dribble. His limitless energy and work ethic meant he was seemingly everywhere on the pitch at exactly the right moments.
On the other hand, this performance really begs the question; Why was he not in the lineup from the beginning? Even with the defense in shambles up until this point, surely they would have gotten more than a point in their first three games. I understand that the central midfield on this team is a balancing act, but they got it wrong. Hopefully, this performance makes them understand that, and we see more of Adams going forward.
Bastian Schweinsteiger IS a Center Back
Bastian Schweinsteiger was phenomenal. Before I go into the rest of the defensive performance, I feel like I should make it a point to say this. I’ve gone on record a lot saying that I think Basti is done, both in writing and on The North Lot podcast,
Well, Der Fußballgott certainly showed me. He didn’t put a foot wrong, both defensively and as a deep lying playmaker from the back. His passes from 40 to 50 yards are still jaw-droppingly accurate; the finest football art. He was much smarter with his defensive positioning and better at being balanced on one-versus-ones. Basically, he was 100% improved from the disaster that was the match against Seattle.
Gutjahr And Gaitán Are Good
The Fire had two career debuts, and both were successes. Nico Gaitán came on in the 63rd minute and was solid in his debut. He didn’t do anything spectacular, as he only trained two days with his new teammates, but the quality on display was excellent. His passes to get out of tight spots were creative and innovative, and he looked calm and composed. Obviously, with time and practice, he’ll have more impact on the match, but it was a solid start to his Fire career.
Meanwhile, home grown talent Jeremiah Gutjahr was nothing short of awesome. He only made one noticeable mistake all game, a miscommunication with David Ousted that gifted RBNY into a corner that should have been a ball comfortably into the goalkeeper’s hands. Other than that, he was great. He looked really comfortable there, and with Raheem Edwards out for a while left back is his position to lose. His most memorable moment came when he played a 30 yard ball on a tight rope down the sideline to spring Katai into set up a crossing opportunity that almost scored. This kid has talent and I can’t wait to see more of him.
Nemanja Nikolic Is Valuable, Even When He Doesn’t Score Goals
The Niko Party was back in full swing on Saturday. While not credited with the goal, it was his overhead kick that put the ball on frame so that the only place it could go when it hit Tim Parker was in the back of the net. He was also all about the passing today. He did real well setting up opportunities for his other teammates and was a real fulcrum for the Fire’s attacking play. He also worked really hard— pressing when needing too and helping out on defense as well. Even when he’s not scoring, Nikolic is invaluable to the team and an important cog in the wheel of the Red Machine.
Those are my takeaways from Saturday’s win. What did you learn? Drop some knowledge for us in the comments.