Steps Forward and Back For Chicago

The Fire suffer a tough loss despite small successes
by Kiran Balan   |   Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ladder 97 – column on Chicago Fire & the Chicagoland area soccer scene.

One word was needed to sum up the Chicago Fire’s performance against the Columbus Crew — flat.

Following 2 impressive wins against RedBull New York and Sporting Kansas City, the Chicago Fire fell flat on the road to their rivals by a score of 2-0.

This was Chicago’s worst defeat of the season, and showed Chicago’s vulnerabilities on both the defensive and offensive side of the ball. Without several key players in the lineup, the Fire struggled against a team who has not won in 8 games.

Coach Frank Yallop put it very simply about the Fire’s defeat saying, “We seemed flat from the first whistle.”

It is important to forget games like these, as it happens to even some of the best teams in the world. Additionally, excuses on performances won’t get you anywhere in the long run. Yet there have been some reoccurring themes on a game week basis that has really hurt the Fire down the stretch. Some key changes in starting personnel could also wake up the team down the stretch.

The return of defensive stalwarts

Defensively, the Fire have been very weak and vulnerable stopping the attack, whether it be from the run of play or on set pieces.

In 11 games so far, goalkeeper Sean Johnson has not been able to keep a shutout. A lack of cohesion and regular pairing of center backs could be the issue.

With Bakary Soumare being injured for the past few games, Patrick Ianni has had to deputize at centerback. Soumare, brings veteran leadership and a physical, yet calm style of play that the Fire desperately need back. Another position that Fire must safeguard is the left back position. Greg Cochrane was caught out of position one too many times.

The return of Gonzalo Segares will be refreshing for the back four.  Veteran leadership has been lacking for the Fire, and the return of these two players will definitely help Johnson out for sure.

In Magic Mike we trust

The Fire will be hoping that Mike Magee returns to action for the Fire real soon. A vocal leader and playmaker for the team, he provides a sense of confidence that the Fire lacked versus the Crew. Magee’s absence from the team was also felt from young players Benji Joya and Harry Shipp, who both looked out of sorts and overwhelmed by midfield counterparts. Magee’s confidence in front of goal will also help ease problems on the defensive side of ball.

As the season continues, the Fire face a very tough stretch of games in the coming weeks. With the likes of LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders visiting Toyota Park, the Fire will want to sort out their defensive responsibilities and hope that the injury bug does not decimate their starting 11. The Fire have a way of bouncing back from tough losses, and two wins against very strong opponents is something to build upon and there is no reason why we can’t see the Fire get 6 points in the next two matches.

NEXT UP: June 1 – Chicago Fire vs. LA Galaxy, Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois. 3 p.m. My50 Chicago, TWCSC Wisconsin.

Kiran BALAN

Nationality:
USA
College:
Illinois State University
Club Domestic:
Chicago Fire
Club Foreign:
Chelsea
Columnist for his hometown MLS team, Chicago Fire. When he’s not flying down the left wing for ISU FC or in a pick-up game, he can be seen watching the beautiful game. A die-hard Chelsea and USMNT fan, he is keen to growing his soccer knowledge.
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