My friend Sean Spence is happy.
His soccer team is good, his city just hosted the MLS All-Star game and not even me insulting that deep dish casserole Chicago Fire fans call pizza can break up his happiness. Oh, and the Fire can sweep nine out of nine points with a win later tonight and if recent history is any indication, tonight is gonna go swell.
Sean is so damn happy that one of the questions he asked me today was about spirit animals. I’m not even kidding, you can read my responses to that question and others in a bit of a deeper dive to what has ailed the New England Revolution over the last few years.
1. So...how was the All-Star Game? Cause Chicago hosted it and all, was there a buzz in the city for the game? Having a good Chicago Fire team must've helped tremendously.
It was a thing! It was a big Thing! There was soccer in Soldier Field again, which was awesome! It was meaningless, which is less so!
There was definitely a buzz around the game, what with one of the three biggest clubs in football history in town. And it's doubtless true that having a good team to market should help in the always-difficult lift of getting some of those lookie-loos from the All-Star Game to make the drive down to Bridgeview. But if these games have a real impact in the soccer marketplace, it would be measured in the weeks and months to come. That said, we may get some walk-up bump tonight from the ASG - buzz is buzz.
2. I know there was the Gold Cup and all, but the Fire haven't won in over a month but they also haven't played at home since July. Is this three game winless streak concerning or just a brutal stretch in the calendar?
Ehh, it's just a tough stretch, in my opinion. Three games on the road in three tough places - Portland, the rhombus in NYC, and Kansas City yielded only one point. What's more concerning for me is that Chicago, without a steady diet of Dax and Basti in deep midfield, have started leaking goals like crazy. I expect the Fire to come out especially focussed on keeping a clean sheet today. There are areas of concern, of course. Brandon Vincent's injury has exposed the relative lack of depth along the Chicago back line, although Patrick Doody has deputized surprisingly well.
3. How pissed off is David Accam right now and is he playing this weekend? Will he every play for Chicago again because I'd be fine with that on a personal level...guy absolutely burns us every game...
I should stipulate that I have no direct knowledge of David's mental state, as Hot Time are not welcome in the press spaces around the Fire, and we are forbidden to contact players directly. So, while all of this is my very best guess as to what's going on, parts of it are purest speculation.
That said, David has to be furious with his (mis-)treatment at the hands of Velko Paunovic and Nelson Rodriguez. Accam has made it clear from the first day that his goal is to use MLS as a stepping-stone to a move to a UEFA side. That's not controversial - it's commonplace. The front office dithered over an extension and Paunovic started trimming his minutes, a manipulation that David has shredded by making the Fire a better team every time he gets a chance on the field. Now David can just play out the string and sign wherever he wants in January, or he can get panic-sold now by the Wonder Twins since even they must realize what a hash they've made of this situation. If Accam isn't in the starting XI, we will know conclusively that the Paunovic/Rodriguez 'two-headed monster' is determinedly jamming at least one of those heads in its own ass out of misplaced pride.
I'm going to choose the light here. I'm going to believe that Velko Paunovic is emotionally mature enough not to take David's ambition personally, and that he starts his best XI. If that happens, I expect the Fire to replicate the 3-0 pasting from earlier this season.
(4-2-3-1): Lampson; Doody, Meira, Kappelhof, Polster; McCarty, Schweinsteiger; Accam, de Leeuw, Solignac; Nikolic.