MRS Q1) I don't want to be captain obvious but the Fire has had 13 draws...13!!! Without having to go to each game individually, why so many draws? defensive lapses? lack of finishing? lingering Klopas effect?
The draws are a testament to a team and a roster that isn't quite there. The Fire can look very good for stretches, but they've consistently been undone by little flickers of failure in concentration, particularly in defense. Bakary Soumare is emblematic of this problem, but he's far from the only culprit. It's not all defense. There was a spate of missed penalties earlier in the season. I wouldn't be shocked to see a rain of frogs or a unexplained locust bloom before the season's out.
MRS Q2) Frank Yallop has had his mea culpa after the 6-0 defeat to the Seattle Sounders in the USOC. How was it perceived by the media and by the fans? Will this hurt the team this weekend and beyond?
I've never seen a Fire team quit before Wednesday night - at the end of that match, several of the Men in Red were clearly just willing the whistle to blow. I wrote about it using Radiohead's 'Let Down' as a framing device. Key lyrics: "Shell smashed / Juices flowing / Wings dead / Legs are going." In other words, we were crushed. I'm strangely serene about it. This roster isn't good enough; we've established that already. Big changes had better be in the offing. If they can grind out a playoff berth, hooray? But that better not interrupt the reworking of the roster top-to-bottom - because this group isn't good enough.
MRS Q3) Sell me the Chicago Fire. Is the Amarikwa-Magee duo one of the most dangerous attacking duo in the league while staying underrated? 13 goals combined is not great but what it Yallop trying to do?
What Yallop is trying to do is make it through this season without provoking a massive fan uprising. Oh, you mean on the field. Good then. What you see from the Fire offensively - when it's working - are a group of quick, intelligent attackers who move into good positions very quickly once the ball is won. Both Magee and Amarikwa can finish if they're allowed to just make runs. As to what the approach actually is at this point, I'm at a loss to say. Ben Jata said (during Wednesday's Open Cup debacle) that Chicago "looked like a pickup team," and I'm forced, sadly, to agree. No movement, no clear approach, just some guys holding their hands up, wanting the ball played to their feet. It's discouraging.
prediction + starting XI Prediction: MOAR DRAWS as the Fire score twice, but snooze on DiVaio twice: 2-2. Lineup (4-2-3-1): Johnson; Cochrane, Larentowicz, Hurtado, Watson; Ritter, Coçiš; Nyassi, Magee, Ward; Amarikwa.