Montreal Impact 1 Omar Brown 83’
Much like a Passover seder run by my dad, cverything about this felt wrong. The 11:30 AM start time was wrong. The lineup felt wrong. The quality of the pitch felt wrong.
The Fire needed at least a point from the this game. Next week, they go to the Banc of America stadium to face the hottest team in MLS, Bob Bradley’s LAFC. There’s virtually no chance of getting points in SoCal. They needed to take advantage of a tired Montreal Impact, despite being tired themselves.
So, hrm. No Marcelo, no Jeremiah Gutjahr. Bastian Schweinsteiger in as a CB. Jorge Corrales back in from the doghouse. This could be fine. This could also be a disaster.
Spoiler Alert: It was a disaster.
Not at first though. For the first 82 minutes of the game, neither team was really threatening anything dangerous. The first half felt like an extension of Wednesday. There was precious little action for the first forty five minutes and plenty of what Sun-Times columnist Brian Sandalow calls “Whatevering”; lots of passing around the midfield to no visible effect. Possession for possessions sake. The biggest opportunity for either team came within the first six minutes when a Nico Gaitán shot was redirected into the path of Nemanja Nikolic, who hit the left upright. That rebound fell to CJ Sapong, who unfortunately was surrounded by Blue and Black stripes and couldn’t get a clean shot off. And that was pretty much it.
If the Fire would have kept it scoreless for the next 45 minutes, it would have been sufficient.
In the second half, the Fire managed to take control a little bit, despite being visibly tired and slow. Nico Gaitán had some nice crosses that were half a step faster than CJ Sapong or Aleksandar Katai could manage. Nemanja Nikolic had a nice curler stopped by a diving Evan Bush that was also set up by our Argentine talisman, who played his best game so far in a Fire shirt.
If the Fire hadn’t kept it scoreless, but scored on one of their second half chances, it would have been sufficient.
It all fell to pieces in the 83rd minute in the way that was entirely expected since the lineup was revealed around 10:30 in the morning. Jorge Corrales went full Jorge Corrales. Omar Browne had the ball on the endline in the 18 yard box, and he was dead. He had nowhere to go other than back into the help being provided by Katai, or to his safety valve by the corner flag. But then, Corrales pushed forward and out, parting like the red sea gifting Browne passage along the sideline. A Schweinsteiger deflection guided the ball into the back of the net.
If Corrales had split the endline for Browne, and had not taken the ball through it on dry land, it would have been sufficient.
And if Browne had gone through on dry land and Schweinsteiger had not deflected it into the back of the net, it would have been sufficient.
Another angle of discussion must be how Marko Mitrovic managed the game in the stead of Veljko Paunovic, who was suspended after getting run Wednesday in the Bronx. It was not good. The team looked flat and unmotivated, at times playing like they were just waiting for the game to finish so they could go home and take a nap.
The subs were too late, as well. Przemysław Frankowski came on for Niko in the 75th— entirely too late to make a difference. Brandt Bronico and Christian Martinez came on close to stoppage time and hand no effect on the match. If those were the moves that needed to be made, they needed to happen 10 to 15 minutes earlier than they did.
Two tired teams walked in to Stade Saputo early in the afternoon just trying to get this over with. both teams played like it. At the end of the day, Playing Jorge Corrales in a game where they needed to get points was a bad Idea.
If the Fire decide to release Jorge Corrales, it would be sufficient.
If they don’t release Jorge Corrales and just send him to the Michigan Bucks or Indy Eleven, it would be sufficient.
Just as long as he doesn’t come back.
The Chicago Fire (2W-3D-4L) wrap up their road trip next Saturday when they take on LAFC.