Welcome to my third installment in the four part series recapping the Fire's 2011 campaign. This post will focus on the midfield, an area that was bolstered by two huge summer signings, and an area that really helped propel the Fire on to a solid finish of their 2011 season. Early on in the season there seemed to be a lack of creative ability in the midfield, there wasn't a whole lot going on in terms of good passes and assists in setting up scoring opportunities for our forwards. The arrival of Sebastian Grazzini and Pavel Pardo seemed to help turn that trend around, but they are only two of the players this post will be focusing on. Others include, Marco Pappa, Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini, and Baggio Husidic.no comments
It was brought to our attention that Visa Signature card holders can purchase tickets to the MLS Cup 2011 in LA. If you're hoping to make it out to California to see the Galaxy battle the Dynamo and you still need a ticket, check out this link. We haven't verified if this offer is still available, so we apologize if it expires before you can use it.no comments
Next up in our four part series recapping the 2011 Chicago Fire season is the defenders. Arguably the most solid and consistent performers this season, the defensive back line came up with some huge plays at both ends of the pitch. With a mixture of youth and veteran presence across the back it was a little surprising to see this group come together and play well as a unit most of the season. The experience of the back line ranged from players with international duty, players who have played in Europe, and then a player who should have been considered for rookie of the year. All in all, the group - which featured several different players over the course of the year - played well, and we are here to analyze some of the key members of that corps.no comments
Okay everyone I am back from my brief blogging hiatus. I needed a little time to decompress and let the emotions of the season pass a little before I could begin to write a recap post. Today will be the beginning of a 4 part, 4 day series that breaks down the team's 2011 campaign position by position. As the title notes, today will focus on the goalkeepers.
This might be the easiest position to evaluate. The Fire had 3 keepers on their roster this season, and we only saw two of them in first team play - across all competitions. I won't write anything about Alec Dufty except to say that he was the Fire's third keeper and I think he did a great job at his position this year. I will obviously put a lot of focus on the top two guys - both of whom saw first team action in 2011.no comments
A couple weeks ago new US National Team Coach Jurgen Klinsman spoke to reporters about some of the problems with MLS. One of his main points was that the MLS season is too short. Currently the MLS season runs from Mid-March to Mid-October. He believes MLS needs to lengthen their current 8-month season to be more competitive with the rest of the world. In a previous article I wrote about expanding the season from the current balanced 34 game schedule to a balanced 36 game schedule, this along with more time off for World Cup qualifiers and off days for more tournaments both continental and national ones, could help lengthen the season without taking away from the value of each game.
Well let's face it. These past few days since Saturday have been excruciating - in the best possible way. After Saturday's wild and crazy finish at RFK Stadium, Fire supporters have been sitting on pins and needles waiting for a fairly complex series of dominoes to fall. Last night, the first domino fell.
If you had told me on June 11 that we would be in playoff contention 3 days before the final match of the season, I would have been overjoyed. I probably wouldn't have believed you. Honestly, if you had told me on August 7 that we'd be in contention I really wouldn't have believed you. And again, if you had told me 8 days ago - the night of the FC Dallas loss - that we'd still have hope going into tonight's RBNY v. Philadelphia Union match - I wouldn't have believed you.
As I sat at Toyota Park last week and started writing my post-match post in about the 75th minute, I was at kind of a low point. The Fire had just lost a vital home match, they were almost certainly out of the playoff mix now, unless there was some sort of miracle in the cards - and it just didn't seem likely.no comments
If you read the two quick articles I threw together before kick-off or at halftime, or read our Twitter feed at all - you undoubtedly know that Ryan and I were granted media access for last night's game. It was an incredible experience, one that I hope to have again soon, and one that I hope continues for us in the future. However, seeing the game from a completely different angle was definitely an eye-opening experience, it really showed us a completely different side of the game.
When Ryan and I started our blog on Wordpress earlier this summer we had no idea where it would go. We were just adding our thoughts post-match to every match, and it turned into a more analytical look at the team and eventually at the league as a whole. We started getting a lot of feedback via Twitter and quickly had a rapport with some of the other Fire bloggers out there. We applied to move our site to Bloguin and were both shocked and excited when they accepted our application and started the process. The last couple months have been great for us to meet a lot of other Fire fans and get to share our thoughts and bounce ideas off of the other writers we've gotten in touch with. Last night was definitely the high point for us so far.
First of all, thanks to Brendan Hannan for allowing us the access to the press area last night. Ryan was able to go on the pitch during the match and take over 2700 photos. I was up in the press box getting to meet a lot of the people I've been in contact with for the first time. We were both in the post-match press conference with interim head man, Frank Klopas and then afterward we were shown into the Fire locker room to get individual player interviews with the other members of the media. It was all a whirlwind, so I'm going to back up to the beginning.
Coming into Wednesday’s match against FC Dallas the Fire had won five of their last seven league matches. They had 8 days to rest up from the heartbreaking loss in the Open Cup final in Seattle, and FC Dallas was not starting Brek Shea or Maicon Santos. The Fire needed a win if they hoped to cling onto whatever chance they had at a playoff spot.
These two teams opened up the year against each other and played to a 1-1 draw at Pizza Hut Park in Dallas. As we all know, this was a VERY different Fire side in March than the side coming into tonight’s match. It didn’t matter. The Fire got down 1-0 in the 41st minute and they couldn’t come back to save their season. They allowed another goal right after halftime to go down 2-0.
With their season on the line, the Fire did not play like a side that wanted to continue playing into November. They looked flat. They were undisciplined. They were quite simply - bad. There has been so much hope buzzing around this team for the last several weeks, they had finally started to play well together and score some goals - and shockingly WIN SOME GAMES. I can’t understand what I saw tonight, but this club simply looked bad. No Marco Pappa because of international duty. Diego Chaves continued to look bad - wish he hadn’t played the full 90 (or at all).
I can’t come to terms with how disappointing this side looked tonight. So much hope that was built up over the last several weeks is now gone. Not only are the Fire not going to make the playoffs (again) but they couldn’t bring home the USOC hardware either. Another year, another empty trophy case.no comments
The Fire lived a little too close to the edge in the first half, and they paid for it once. In my opinion they could've gotten burned (pun intended) on more than one occasion, but they were saved by a few errant shots by Chavez. They look too flat offensively. Oduro and Nyarko haven't really had a lot of room to run and it's costing the Fire scoring opportunities.
The Fire are 0-8-6 this season when they allow the first goal - a trend that's going to have to change if they're going to continue their pursuit of a playoff spot. They need to press more in the second half and really make Dallas try to defend them.
As for life up here in the press box, it's awesome. I've finally gotten to meet some of the great writers I've interacted with on Twitter, and the view and perks up here are great. Thanks to the Chicago Fire for giving us this opportunity.
Ryan is enjoying his time down on the field as well, he's taken so many pictures that he was complaining at halftime about cramping in his hand...
Stay tuned to our Twitter feed for second half updates.
Tonight is a big night for us at Hook n Ladders. It's the first time we will have someone in the press box at Toyota Park during a match, and the first time we will have our photographer on the pitch and not in the stands in the Harlem End.
We were both a little giddy and nervous on the drive over here but those nerves went away as soon as we got to the media check in. We were given our press credentials and told to head up to the press box to get some food. I settled into my spot in the box and Ryan went on his way to head down to the field to set up for pictures.
This really is an exciting day for us here, and we hope that this will help us enhance our coverage of the match. Stay tuned to our Twitter page for updates throughout the match, and don't forget to check the photos page tomorrow for the photos Ryan takes tonight. Enjoy the match and thanks for your continued support and reading - GO FIRE!