We talk Pizza, language and something people call soccer, football and whatever else is it called. Sean Spenceof Hot Time In Old Town takes the time to talk Chicago Fire soccer as Frank's team plays against Frank's team.
And Yes, ..the Roof Is On Fire!!
MRS: Frank Yallop has replaced Frank Klopas at the helm of the club. With quite a few off-season roster changes, is Yallop correcting Klopas' mistakes or is he just implementing his vision? Is he preparing a big splash for a big DP-type player later this summer?
Hot Time: In answer to the first question, a bit of both. The salary cap situation left by the Klopas/Leon front office was apparently a disaster. Yallop and Technical Director Brian Bliss have spent a majority of their effort seemingly taking a broom to the oddities within the roster - for example, the long list of loanees has been pared down considerably. The most significant moves have been concentrated on clearing cap space, but Magee's new extension will certainly take most of that.
At the same time, he's trying to move toward a team that keeps the ball on the ground, and that new emphasis has refigured some of the depth chart. We could see more movement out before we see much movement in, and those players on starter-level deals not currently solid locks for the gameday XI might want to see about going month-to-month on the lease.
Life is always full of surprises, and it's possible that the Fire have identified a very affordable DP - possibly someone out of contract in the summer - but I doubt it. Absent another big trade, our exciting midseason addition will likely be 19-year-old flank player Grant Ward, on loan from Tottenham.
MRS: The Chicago Fire is also winless in 2014. What is the biggest problem right now between scoring more goals or conceding less?
Hot Time: Absolutely, 100% the problem is with conceding goals. As you'll see on Saturday, the Fire can be a handful to defend - the team thinks well, uses space well, and creates more chances than an average MLS team. And they're hard to play against, generally, clogging passing lanes, pressing out hard when they can.
The team's Achilles heel has been set piece defending, full stop. In five games, the Fire have given up nine goals; seven - SEVEN - from set piece situations. So, yeah, that's a problem - spotting the other team a goal-and-a-half PER GAME and hoping to rescue it is no way to go through life. Yet here we are.
I wouldn't be shocked to see changes at the back this week. During last week's broadcast of the game, the Fire surrendered a goal off a set piece during the execrable 'talk to the gaffer during the game' segment. The discerning listener could pick out a truly epic, profanity-laced frothing-mouth rant from a Fire assistant coach (who shall remain nameless) in the background of that interview, the gist of which was "Every! F--king! Time! He watches it every time!"
We leave it for a puzzle for the readership who the 'he' was in the rant.
MRS: We all know that Deep Dish Pizza has nothing on Italian Pizza Montreal-Style. Now that I have opened everyone's appetite and misdirected everyone, Is Frank Klopas remotely missed at Chicago?
Hot Time: Of course we miss Frank Klopas! He is a Fire legend, a Ring of Fire member, scorer of one of the biggest goals in Fire history, and is a great guy. We miss the hell out of Frank Klopas.
Do we miss him as a head coach, or Director of Soccer, or whatever? Nah. But that's in the past. The Fire family still loves Frank. I'm reminded of Liverpool supporters' relationship with Kenny Dalglish - love the guy, love his effort, think he's not quite manager material, but wish him all the best. When Montreal plays in Chicago, Klopas will get love, despite everything.
Now, I found your pizza claim interesting - I'd never heard of Montreal-style pizza before. Some research on the internet led me to the conclusion that you need to get to Lou Malnati's or Gino's East - or some other location our readers will suggest - IMMEDIATELY. You are speaking a blasphemy, of which you should feel shame.
Predicted Fire starting XI (4-4-2): Sean Johnson; Greg Cochrane, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Lovel Palmer; Dilly Duka, Alex, Jeff Larentowicz (c), Patrick Nyarko; Mike Magee, Quincy Amarikwa.
Game prediction: I see the Fire winning 2-1, with goals for Magee and a midfielder, and Di Viao poaching one for l'Impact.
Read my answers to his hard hard questions right here.