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Columbus Crew 1, Chicago Fire 1: What We Learned

As we come down the stretch, conclusions are starting to be drawn.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

As we come down to the end of the season, patterns and final conclusions finally start to take shape. This is what we learned from the Chicago Fire’s 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew.

This Game Was Entertaining. That’s A Bad Thing.

A favored tournament structure among both traditional and video game tournament organizers is called a Swiss-system. It’s generally used during pool play, and the reason it’s so popular is that unlike a round robin tournament, everyone doesn’t need to play everyone in order to create a hierarchy or rankings. It’s also really good at creating matches that are even and entertaining. In a Swiss event, the first round of a tournament is paired randomly, and after that, winners are paired against winners, and losers are paired against losers, creating even and entertaining matchups with players of similar skill level.

Why bring that up? Because that was the first thought I had watching the Fire and Columbus Crew play. The game was very back and forth, with both teams having decent chances at scoring opportunities, as well as good defensive plays. The Fire and the Crew seemed to be on the same level.

That checks out when you look at the standings. The Columbus Crew after Saturday are in 11th place with 34 points and a record of 8W-15L-7D. The Fire, meanwhile, are in 10th place with 8W-12L-10D. If they were playing in a Swiss tournament, they’d probably be playing each other.

What I’m trying to get at here is that the Fire belong in 10th place. Their failure throughout the season and falling on their face is just who they are. They’re not a good team and no matter what flashes of brilliance or hope given to us, they were always going to end up 10th in the Eastern Conference playing entertaining matches with the likes of Columbus and Orlando.

About Our Goalkeepers

Kenneth Kronholm scares me. Sometimes, I have dreams about him being a massive failure and think to myself that I’d never encounter him in real life. And yet every Saturday there he is, punching and bobbling away rebounds on balls that he should hold on to. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and scrambling around like a madman to get back to a proper position.

Despite having really good stats on the night, he ended up with six saves. I never feel comfortable when he’s in the net. He looks as if he’s walking a tightrope for maximum suspense. He’s wiggling and wobbling all over the place and you just know at some point he’s going to fall.

And yet, if you look at his numbers, they’re right on par with David Ousted. Kronholm has given up 23 goals in 16 games, where as Ousted, who has played 14 games this year, has given up 20 goals. They have more similar stats across the board. A similar number of shutouts (Ousted 4, Kronholm 3), the same number of wins (4), and the same number of losses (6).

The two main differences between the two have a point in each others favor. Ousted looks more calm and confident, while Kronholm looks chaotic and panicking. On the other hand, Kronholm is American, which, due to the way MLS rosters are configured, absolutely matters. International roster slots are precious commodities, and if you don’t have to use one on a position like goalkeeper, you really shouldn’t.

What it boils down to is this: Kenneth Kronholm is the starting goalkeeper for the Chicago Fire for the foreseeable future. You don’t have to like it, and I don’t. But if he’s the exact same keeper as Ousted, and doesn’t take up an international roster spot, you play him every time.

Those were my thoughts on the draw with Columbus. What were your takeaways from the game? Let us know in the comments below!