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FC Cincinnati 0, Chicago Fire 0: What We Learned

Some missed opportunities mixed with reasons for hope

MLS: Chicago Fire at FC Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Failing to get three points against the worst team in the league is never a good feeling. Coming at the end of a wave of optimism and good feelings surrounding the Chicago Fire after the big news from a few weeks ago definitely stings. While I wasn’t quite as down in the dumps as Ruben was on Saturday, I definitely feel the frustration and disappointment that he— and, I would suspect, a lot of Fire fans— felt after the game.

All we can do is process and then move forward. With that in mind: here’s a few things we learned from Cincy 0-0 Fire.

Przemysław Frankowski: Still Good At Soccer

If the Fire did manage to score on Saturday, it almost certainly would’ve been credited to Frankowski. His dominance on the wing, his irrepressible runs, his constant threat in and around the box, all made him the most dangerous player on the pitch for Chicago. This is the player we hoped he would be when the Fire signed him earlier this season. With luck— and better coaching and resources to support him— we could see these kind of performances more consistently next season.

The Spirit Is Willing But The Flesh Is Weak

In some ways the problems the Fire had on Saturday are the same they’ve been grappling with all season— good possession, good movement, solid attacking play, no goals.

The front line generally has good ideas, especially since the addition of Nico Gaitán. They’re getting better about anticipating each other’s runs. They’re getting better at identifying weaknesses in their opposition and exploiting them. But for whatever reason, the Fire seen to have a hard time pulling it all together and finishing with goals. It’s like souffles that never rise, no matter what you do.

I’d like to think that if figuring out why this keeps happening is complicated enough that were there were clear answers, we would be doing better. Identifying root causes seems very much above my pay grade. And, if we’re being honest, this isn’t really something we can fix before the end of the season. This feels more like a structural issue that only an offseason gut rehab can address.

But you have to name the problem in order to solve it, so, let’s put this high on Joe Mansueto’s to-do list this winter.

It’s Not Gonna Happen Overnight

Look, I get it. When the news finally broke that Andrew Hauptman was selling his ownership stake in the club, we were all overcome with something that had been in short supply over the past decade: hope. That the team went out and clobbered FC Dallas the next day seemed to confirm that something special was happening. Some of us— and I’m certainly guilty of this— entertained visions of the Fire winning out through the end of the season, sneaking into the playoffs, going on a run in the early rounds, and then... who knows?

But the Fire aren’t going to just magically transform into world-beaters because a couple of rich people signed some paperwork. Turning the Chicago Fire Soccer Club into a world-class organization— one that regularly competes for the MLS Cup— is a long-term project requiring deep, structural reforms. Hell, it’ll probably take another season or two of sucking just so the new regime can clean up the mess from the old one. It could be years before the Fire rejoin the league’s elite class.

Dropping points against the worst team in MLS, while awful and embarrassing, is a useful reminder for all of us. Patience, young padawans.

What were your takeaways from the game? Let us know in the comments below.