DSC 0100The Chicago Fire returned home Saturday night to open their 2013 home campaign after a crushing 4-0 loss in LA last Sunday. While the defending was markedly better this week, the midfield play was still sloppy and the finishing in the final third was downright atrocious - all of this leading to a 1-0 loss in front of an announced attendance of 13,242. 

The loss will send the Fire to 0-2-0 (0 pts) on the young 2013 season, and will certainly get the fans in a tizzy. The club has not had an 0-2-0 start since the 2000 campaign when they opened with losses at Dallas and at Kansas City. We'll break down the bad, the worse, and the flat out awful after the break. 

 After losing 4-0 on the road last weekend, the lineup Saturday night only saw 1 (and a half) changes from the first 11 who took the pitch in LA. Newcomer Maicon Santos, who started last weekend, found himself on the bench to start tonight, while designated player, Sherjill MacDonald worked his way back into Frank Klopas's starting XI. The only other change saw Jalil Anibaba move from RB to CB and in a corresponding move, Steven Kinney move from CB to RB. DSC 0153

Let's start with the swap-a-dee-doo at the back. It proved to be a good tactical decision by Klopas, and Kinney looked a lot more comfortable on the right side than he did in the center last weekend. I won't be fully satisfied until Logan Pause and http://www.hooknladders.com/how-much-levitra Arne Friedrich return (as I awkwardly told Arne in the tunnel after the match), but I think that the positioning we saw tonight could be a serviceable replacement until the two veterans return. 

Now, on to the change up front. (Yes, here with go with the Mackie-bash again) When the club brought MacDonald in last summer I was on the bandwagon with everyone else. I hated the move at first, and then when it fell though I was pissed that we weren't getting a striker, and then the move went through and I hated the idea of it again, and then when I saw him play I fell in love. But through his first two appearances of 2013, I'm starting to feel like he's looking like the player I thought we were getting last year - someone who can't finish in front of the goal (see his 3' whiff). I said it last week and I'm going to say it again, I love the way Maicon Santos hustles to the ball, I love his tenacity, I love the way he's bringing a scrappy Chicago-esque style of play to the pitch. He puts pressure on opposing keepers who think they're going to get easy clearances, he runs to balls most everyone else gives up on, and historically he's proven that he can put the ball in the back of the net. I think it's worth giving Santos another start next week against SKC to see how the team plays with him for more than 45 minutes. 

DSC 0279Let's talk about the guy who's play improved about 1000% from last weeks performance - Dilly Duka. Duka's play last week was uninspired and flat-out sloppy. This week he was sharp, creative, and came closer to scoring a goal than anybody else on the club (31' rocket that banged the woodwork). What we have to remember is that both Patrick Nyarko and Duka were late to pre-season camp, and they are going to take a little more time to gel together, but I think there could be a budding partnership there. The two seemed to work together a lot better this week than last, and the distribution and movement of the two was much less rigid than the LA match. 

I don't know what to think about the 2013 version of the Fire yet, but I know it's much too early to sound the alarm. I think they're beat up at the back, and still lacking the familiarity that only comes with playing together. 

And finally, to make your night incredibly depressing - take a look at where the Fire's shots came from tonight...




3-9 Shots Chart