Last week, Djordje Mihailovic was called up to the USMNT for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The young Chicago Fire midfielder made an appearance in their first match against Guyana on Tuesday, coming in for a cramping Weston McKennie in the 75th minute.
He seemed freer in those 15 minutes than I’ve seen him in a long time. Being up 3-0 already probably had a lot to do with it, surely, but he looked like he was enjoying his soccer. He even made an audacious pass with the outside of his boot to free up an attacking maneuver for the United States. It was a good run out, and hopefully that translates when he comes back.
Djordje being gone should also do something positive for the club, if indirectly. It should allow more playing time for Mo Adams.
We here at Hot Time have always been high on the English international. He provides something different in midfield that the Fire haven't really had since Logan Pause retired—someone in midfield who can both break up opposing attacks and successfully mark defensive play makers at the same time.
These abilities should help sure up what can be generously described as a chaotic defense, bringing some help and stability at a point in the season where they need it most. Going in to the Open Cup/Gold Cup break, the Fire defense had given up ten goals in its last four games. A lot of it has to do with a lack of talent and bad positioning to be sure, but it’s also because there’s really no one to provide pressure and break up possession in midfield. That’s not really what Nico Gaitán or Dax McCarty are good at, and they’ve struggled with the task. It is however, what Adams excels at, and having him in the lineup should free those two up to do what they do best, distribute and create attacking chances for the likes of Przemysław Frankowski, Aleksandar Katai, and CJ Sapong.
Adams received his green card yesterday, granting him permanent residency in the United States. This makes fitting Adams into the squad easier by not having to worry about international player restrictions when constructing the game day roster. International players are an absolute headache to deal with when it comes to roster registration, and it takes real effort to navigate MLS’s odd and complex roster rules to get a legal 18 on the team sheet. Not counting as an international player makes everything a whole lot easier for the club and for him.
And I expect him to be in the lineup for every game the rest of the season because of it.
We must hope that Djordje’s continued development and more Mo Adams can be enough to turn around what’s turning out to be, if not the worst season in Fire history, certainly the most disappointing. It’s certainly possible. It doesn’t take more than two or three wins in a row to get back into playoff contention, and the Fire are capable of that.
Saturday marks the start of the second half of the season. The Fire’s comeback starts with Mo Adams.