Look, we get it the Chicago Fire are an embarrassment. Every year 2⁄3 of the roster leaves, homegrowns go to Europe, the rest of the league has passed the team by in terms of building a roster around good players for the last 10 years, and they can’t get anyone from Chicago to take a two hour EL and bus ride to their stadium in the windy suburb to watch what has been an awful team since the designated player rule was introduced.
But the team has a solution - move back to an NFL stadium (this does not end with them playing in an abandoned dome in St. Louis). Apparently, the Chicago Fire will move from Bridgeview back to the house that Cutler built, Soldier Field.
The Fire will also perhaps re-brand becoming either the Chicago City Soccer Club or the Chicago City Football Club - so CCSC or CCFC, both of which sound like a 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament that is never heard from after making it to the Big Dance one time. Moving the club might have its benefits, as long as it comes with something resembling coherent and effective front office leadership that actually leads to the team being good and watchable.
The re-brand is a mirage though. Yes, Chicago City Soccer Club sounds like the name of a soccer team - just look it says Soccer Club right there in the name, let’s go tell everyone in Bucktown about the new thing in the city! Yes, Chicago Fire is the name of a TV show. But why does MLS insist on doing this? Why do I have to watch City Soccer Team FC vs Geographical Location United? It might be semantics, but it’s also objectively boring and lame and gives every team a chance to copy and paste something about reflecting the unique culture of the city and deep values that it represents.
The Fire have history, they have a glorious foundation that can be used as a cudgel against expansion teams who don’t win MLS Cup in the debut season - some of that is lost by giving the team a generic name that gives a sense of watching football, the one that comes with a European accent. One Irishman had a different take though:
It’s about what the fire means to Chicago. Its legacy is a story of fortitude & solidarity. Different cultures coming together to rebuild Chicago into the gorgeous city we see today. A city of proud, hardworking folks, and the recovery after the Great Chicago Fire symbolizes that https://t.co/j1GKdVqaP0— Kevin Egan (@kev_egan) April 5, 2019
We get it, MLS wants teams to name themselves after successful clubs in Europe and South America thinking that will solve the riddle of getting people to watch the league on TV. The Fire can move, they can change their name, but until they use the resources that they have to put a good product on the field, nobody is going to watch it no matter where they play.
Concacaf Champions Look at that blowout
Sporting Kansas City probably felt pretty good about playing Monterrey. They just beat the Montreal Impact 7-1 and were 2-1-1 in league play. They are probably not feeling good about it now. Rayados beat them 5-0 (this technically means that the Impact lost 12-0 last weekend via the transitive property) in a truly crushing loss. I can’t say much good about it, but Peter Vermes’ decision to go into Monterrey playing an aggressive 4-3-3 was clearly a fateful one. At least Gianluca Busio got in the game for 17 minutes, in that time he sent SKC’s second shot on goal in the match.
CJ Sapong and Jozy Altidore strike again
After all that, give the Fire credit. The team fell behind 1-0 after Toronto FC had a dominant 30 minutes to open their match in Canada over the weekend. Jozy Altidore opened the scoring for the home side as he and Alejandro Pozuelo continue to grow a partnership that is giving MLS defenders nightmares. That lead wouldn’t last as CJ Sapong scored in stoppage time before the break. The Fire would add another goal before Jozy set up Jonathan Osorio’s equalizer in the 76th minute. For Altidore, it would be his third goal and first assist in 2019 as Sapong scored his own third on the year in the match. As for Djordje Mihailovic, he went the full 90 for the Fire as it seems for now his spot on the roster is safe with the addition of Nicolas Gaitan.
Struggles in New Jersey
Things are not going well for the New York Red Bulls. After getting nudged out of Concacaf Champions League, the team hasn’t found its footing in MLS either. Those struggles continued over the weekend as New York lost 2-1 to Minnesota United. It seems that without Tyler Adams, the pressing motor for the team has lost its steam and the defense is still stout, but leaky as the attack has failed to score in games not against the San Jose Earthquakes. Both Aaron Long and Luis Robles went the full 90 for the Red Bulls as Ike Opara, who has done wonders to solidify the Loons’ backline also featured for 90 in the match.
A big goal for Bassett
Cole Bassett found the net for the first time in 2019 with Coloardo’s third goal against Orlando City over the weekend. The youngster lined up on the left with Kellyn Acosta playing centrally and Benny Feilhaber as a forward in a 4-4-2 for the Rapids.
The 17 year-old also had an assist with Acosta on Nicolas Mezquida’s goal 10 minutes prior.
For Orlando, Chris Mueller would have another key effort off the bench. After a promising 2018 with three goals and seven assists, Mueller is proving to be an asset for Orlando City in 2019 as well. The winger has two goals and two assists though he may be set to find time as an impact sub with Nani joining OCSC. Mueller came off the bench last week to assist on a late goal or Orlando against DC United and followed that up by scoring the equalizer against Colorado in his first minute off the bench in the 81’. The game would end as Nani converted a penalty in the 89th minute against Tim Howard to give Orlando a 4-3 win.
A new option at right back emerges
Things have not gone well in the Bay Area for the Earthquakes of late. The team won only four games in 2018 and had lost its first four matches of 2019 by a combined score of 14-2. Luckily they would face the equally struggling Portland Timbers and prevail 3-0 to win their first match on the year. For the Americans of note in the game, Jeremy Ebobisse would go 66 minutes, but an emerging story at right back for San Jose seems to be a foot.
Tommy Thompson made his third start of the year for the team in the position. Nick Lima had been the regular starter in the role last year, but Thompson seems to have claimed it this season. The at one time much hyped player gained attention as a creative attacking midfielder. He never found a place in that role under Dom Kinnear and his career somewhat floundered as a result. While Lima got attention in national team camp for his role as the right back that drifts into central midfield, Thompson might offer an interesting option in that position should Gregg Berhalter choose to deploy it with someone other than Tyler Adams. Thompson went 69 minutes, being replaced by Lima, in the clean sheet effort.
Busio on the board again
Who knows what exactly Spencer Richey was trying to do here - but if you’re a keeper and you come off your line, make sure the ball doesn’t end up in the back of the net after that. While this is a goalkeeping error give Gianluca Busio credit, he made the run to pull Richey forward and took the touch that set up his open net chance.
That would be the game tying goal in the 1-1 draw as Busio has two goals in 214 MLS minutes this year. Also appearing for Sporting Kansas City was another American youngster - Gedion Zelalem. The midfielder went 56 minutes in an effort that he can build on going forward as he was subbed for a more attack minded Felipe Gutierrez as SKC searched for the equalizer.