Squandering a 2-0 lead late, and settling for a draw against D.C. United? Not good. That 5-1 Nashville debacle? Not good would be an extreme understatement. But, despite the last couple results, there are some good things happening with the Fire right now, so let’s take a look at a few:
Since returning from the Euros, Przemyslaw Frankowski is playing quite well. I actually thought he was the Fire’s best player against D.C. United. The run he made and ball he played to Miguel Navarro on the eventual Andy Najar own goal were excellent. Last season, and in parts of this season early on, Frankowski was where the attack went to die. He never seemed to use his pace to his advantage, and when he would shoot, it always seemed to be straight at the goalkeeper. This version of Frankie? The one since returning from the Euros? He’s been dangerous.
As the second half wore on against D.C,, I was texting with Hot Time’s Alex Campbell, who was covering the game for us. We both knew Frank Klopas would want to get Stanislav Ivanov 15 minutes or so, which made sense, but we both wondered how you could justify taking Frankowski off to do it. Knowing what we know now, it ended up being the wrong decision, but if I’m being honest, I’d have probably made the same swap. Taking Frankowski off was a tough call, but getting Ivanov those 15 minutes was an important, big picture call, and the Fire were up 2-0 with 15 minutes left, which is a lead you’d like to think they could protect at home.
Gastón Giménez also looked strong in his first start in the 3-5-2 since returning from the Copa América. Giménez looked like he was mentally checked out during stretches early in the year, especially in the first half of the D.C away loss. Since returning, I thought Tonga was good in his last couple appearances off the bench, and he was particularly good in the last match: 59 touches, a team-high four tackles, a respectable 79% passing completion rate, and, of course, his first goal for the club. I’ve argued in the past that the Fire aren’t getting enough production out of their three designated players, and I still think that’s true, but if Giménez can string together more games like this, the team will be far better off for it.
I don’t think Jonathan Bornstein made a single mistake all night before his poorly mistimed tackle that resulted in D.C.’s equalizing penalty late in the match. He’s been excellent on the left side of the back three while Francisco Calvo has been away at the Gold Cup. Does that mean he’ll start again against Toronto FC? I hope so, but it’s important to remember that Jonny B is 36, and although he’s in great shape, he’ll need a rest now and then. Many fans freaked out when he didn’t start against Nashville. I suspect it’s because Raphael Wicky and Frank Klopas figured with three matches in eight days, Bornstein would need to miss one, and D.C. and Toronto at home were easier games to win than Nashville away.
Speaking of Wicky, he will miss Saturday’s match against Toronto FC—his third straight game as he’s away dealing with a family issue in Switzerland. Klopas said he and Wicky are still in touch often, and Wicky is still very involved in the decision making process for the team.
This one isn’t a positive, but more of an observation. Robert Berić is starting to remind me of Olivier Giroud for France at the 2018 World Cup—a No. 9 who works hard and makes runs to open up space for teammates, but doesn’t actually score goals himself. He managed just one shot against D.C. United. Unlike France, the Fire don’t have Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann flying in from behind, so they’ll need Berić to up his goal production to have any chance of sniffing the playoffs, which means they’ll need to find a way to get him more of the ball.
Ep2 OUT NOW, would hugely appreciate it if you would listen and rate— Arlo White (@arlowhite) July 22, 2021
Stitcher: https://t.co/RjaidVcz1K pic.twitter.com/zu1D3FUPPP
Finally, if you’ve been searching for a podcast with the perfect blend of discussion about the Fire, Premier League, USWNT Olympic soccer, and horrible gastrointestinal issues caused by sketchy Japanese convenience store sushi or possibly a “seafood stick,” I’m pleased to report “The Intercontinental Football Show” is quite good. Arlo White proves he can make anything interesting with his velvety English voice—including gastro issues—and it’s quite fun listening to Tyler Terens egg him on. It’s a solid show, and will be even more fun if Jordan Henderson leaves Liverpool for Arsenal, leaving Terens up in arms.
As for that seafood stick? I’m no Anthony Bourdain, but I consider myself a pretty adventurous eater. When Arlo ate that on his Instagram story, I had serious questions. I’ll try about anything, but it would be a hard pass from me on that monstrosity.