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Chicago Fire 2, Philadelphia Union 0: What We Learned

We have a pulse!

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

I have to admit: this is not the post I had planned to write after the game.

I was expecting a loss, and with that, further proof that the season is over and we’re actually in the hunt for a playoff spot. Instead, a win over the (at the time) Eastern Conference leaders has given the team, and the fans, a much-needed emotional boost. It also keeps us, mathematically at least, in the playoff race.

Here’s a few things we learned from the Chicago Fire’s 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union.

Niko’s Back

When it rains it pours, I guess. After underperforming for much of the season, Nemanja Nikolic has now scored in four consecutive games. I don’t know what switch was flipped that got Niko out of his slump, but I’m not complaining.

The big question is whether he can sustain this form through the end of the season. Whether the Fire manage to slip into the playoffs or not will depend in large part on the answer to that question.

Kronholm Might Not Completely Suck

I already said this on the new episode of The North Lot but I want to put it in print too for posterity.

I’ve been super critical of Kenneth Kronholm. We all have here at HTIOT, but I think the rest of the Fire Desk was at least willing to give him a shot. I wasn’t. I thought it was a stupid signing, and his blunders this summer while wearing Fire Red led me to feel justified.

But the fact of the matter is, Kronholm had a really good game on Saturday. He kept his box clean, for the most part, and he made some excellent saves late. For one game, at least, he was the competent goalkeeper the front office has been insisting he was.

Whether he can keep this up is an open question. But on Saturday, he came correct.

The Fire Might Have A Discipline Problem

It’s not a post from me unless there’s a little doom and gloom.

The Fire played two games in three days, and in both games, they had to play at least a full half with ten men. Aleksandar Katai was out on Saturday due to the suspension, and now Nico Gaitán will miss this weekend’s clash with New England. Two players who have been critical to the Fire’s attack, in a crucial stretch of the season, getting hit with suspensions for taking The Chicago Way a little too far is a little worrying.

It’s not just these two. The Fire are playing a bit more recklessly, even in games where they didn’t look like they were really contending for a result. Bastian Schweinsteiger picks up a yellow almost every game now. The midfield is trying to make up for a lack of organization with more professional fouls. This is something that really needs to be tamped down before it really hurts the team.

Especially now that we might actually have a shot at the playoffs.

So what were your takeaways from Saturday’s game? Let us know in the comments below!