In my preview on Friday I wrote that the Chicago Fire have given us a gift by no longer giving a shit about the season. Their apathy has allowed us fans to release ourselves from the burden of caring about superficial concerns like results or performances or, y’know, the future.
Their 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union served to reinforce the value of that gift.
Here are some takeaways from Saturday’s farce.
The Kenneth Kronholm Experiment Is A Total Bust, And It Doesn’t Matter
I realize this isn’t earth-shattering news, but it has to be said. In nine appearances for Chicago, he’s kept zero clean sheets and has been either a direct or indirect cause of dropped points. He makes stupid youth league mistakes. He clearly doesn’t have an open line of communication with his defenders. And he’s also easily duped— as evidence by Philly’s opening goal, coming off a training ground routine that wasn’t even that clever. Nothing about this is working.
But Pauno and N-Rod are committed to this guy, so, whatever I guess.
Our Midfield Is A Mess, And It Doesn’t Matter
Remember when the Fire had the strongest midfield in the league? That was nice. I miss that.
That midfield was built around Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty getting their 78th winds late in their careers at about the same time, plus a young third player to round out the triangle. (Initially it was Matt Polster, before he moved out to left back and formed that excellent partnership with Brandon Vincent. Later, it was often filled by Djordje Mihailovic.)
Now it’s all a mess. Basti splits his time between the midfield and the backline, and his declining abilities + mounting frustration with playing on a team that’s stopped giving a shit has made him a shadow of his former self. Dax, who didn’t even start on Saturday, has also had a rough year. Combined with the constant formation changes and it’s turned what was once the team’s biggest strength into a liability.
And nothing is going to change any time soon.
We Can’t Score Anymore, And It Doesn’t Matter
I’m just going to pretend the win against Atlanta United didn’t happen. It’s clear by now that that was a fluke.
Our DP #9, Nemanja Nikolic, can’t be said to be in a slump anymore. This is just who he is now. His form is in the toilet and he’s likely already emotionally checked out.
CJ Sapong is a great addition to the team and is almost certainly one of the few things holding the locker room together right now. But his goal production has also fallen off a cliff, and it’s becoming a problem.
Fabian Herbers is Just Ok. Nico Gaitán has too much on his plate. Djordje’s goalscoring opportunities are limited given his being deployed as a central midfielder. Katai is doing a lot of good work in possession but has also has trouble finding the back of the net. Same with Przemysław Frankowski.
In the absence of these guys’ performance, it’s not clear where else the goals are supposed to come from. It would be a problem if this organization actually cared about winning anymore. But they don’t, so it doesn’t.
The Fire are back in action tomorrow night at home against Cruz Azul in the inaugural Leagues Cup. In other words: a game that doesn’t matter, in a competition that doesn’t matter, hosted by a team that doesn’t matter.