We knew the Fire wasn't going to go undefeated in 2022, but it stings a little knowing the officials took the result out of the Fire’s hands a little bit. However, especially in a loss, there are always takeaways to be had. This is what we learned from the Chicago Fire’s 1-0 road loss to Orlando City.
Respect The Rules
We’ve seen the Fire fall prey to the pocket after trying to stop a restart a few times this season, but this is the first time it’s really blown up in their face. Brian Gutierrez put himself in a bad spot early by blocking a free kick in the 5th minute, then put himself in a position for the referee to make a decision. And the ref certainly his decision. Gutierrez was sent off right before halftime.
First thing’s first. The foul that ultimately got Guti sent off was not worthy of a yellow card. It was a light touch if there was any contact at all, and it seemed like the Orlando attacker had lost control of the ball anyway. However, he was coming in from behind and that’s always going to get the referee’s attention. And if I read the VAR rules correctly, because it was a second yellow and not a straight red, it couldn’t be reviewed. So off he went after a dumb first yellow.
The fact of the matter is that at the beginning of the season, PRO was emphasizing that players were going to start to get booked for disrupting the resumption of play and this isn’t the first time they’ve been booked for time-wasting like this. Both Shaqiri and Herbers were booked for similar infringements against SKC, and way back in game one Jhon Durán was booked for that too. MLS and PRO don’t want this kind of thing happening anymore, and the Fire, for as good as they’ve been this season, have to start respecting that or else things like this are just going to keep happening. It’s stupid and needs to stop.
We Can Panic Now
After 6 games, I’m officially giving permission to panic about the attack. Partly because it is that bad at times, even with Shaqiri playing, and partly because as much as Jairo Torres will help with the individual quality in the final third, he won’t be able to help everyone else’s lack of finesse. The team only had 7 shots the entire game, and their two shots on target came from Brian Gutierrez, who didn’t play for the whole second half. To be sure, being out four starters is something we can’t discount, but these problems have happened in more than one game.
Inter Miami performance aside, Stanislav Ivanov has not followed through on his promise, and “Jonathan Bornstein: Winger” is an experiment that is doomed to failure— especially if you plan on starting him. Torres can only help on one side which leaves a glaring hole on the other wing come summer. Georg Heitz must prioritize upgrading on the wing with either their last U22 initiative signing or their last TAM roster spot, maybe both. The defense is playing unsustainably well and sooner or later, you're going to have to win a game by outscoring your opponent maybe as soon as this coming weekend. This is getting to be concerning.
The Quality Defense Continues
There were some positives to take away from the game, including the fact that they only gave up one goal when by all rights they should have given up more. In the second half up a man, Orlando City poured on the pressure, but could only manage a bungled goal that probably should not have happened.
The reason for this is that the Fire defenders have gotten really good at changing the shooting angles of the attacker just enough to put them off. Wyatt Omsberg especially has impressed me with his body control and ability to put off shooters. It’s a subtle thing you have to look closely to notice, but when you do, you’ll notice one of the little things that’s helped transform this defense from worst to first in MLS.