Saturday, August 28, 2010

Coming Soon...

Consider it GoLiveInTheFire 2.0

Three Questions with Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart

To get a read on the Seattle Sounders, I exchanged three questions with Dave Clark of Sounder at Heart.  My questions are in bold and his answers are in regular font.
1.  Fire fans love new arrival Freddie Ljungberg. He has taken over as a captain on offense and the results have been very positive. Why did Seattle trade him at such a low cost?
He wasn't going to be playing anymore. There was a fissure between he, the coaching staff, and some players. How or why this developed will likely never be known, but he'd stopped playing for Seattle while he started to explore other options. Considering that no team in Europe offered any transfer fee (if they had Seattle would have taken it, as they need to buy down some DP salary cap hits) the fact that Freddie was dealt for only a conditional pick in one of the next two drafts shows that the market for the Swede was quite low.

Seattle likely wanted allocation dollars more than anything, but a former MLS Best XI player didn't net that in a fairly active transfer window. His value as a player has taken a hit, and with his contract up in just a few months it was even lower. I'm almost certain that he hates the league, and I don't expect him to be in Chicago next year.

2.  The Sounders, like the Fire, have 2 DPs. Has there been talk of signing a third DP?  Given realistic boundaries (availability, cost, chemistry, etc), who would you want them to sign?
The best use of that 3rd DP slot would be for Seattle to retain the services of Fredy Montero. His contract is also up shortly, and losing him on a Free would be painful. By signing him as the 3rd DP this off season Seattle would be retaining the uses of a very young highly prolific goal scorer. He's a symbol of what the team is at this point, and can actually be used in marketing as two year starter who can dominate the league for long stretches.

It would also continue the movement that Seattle is making towards bringing in young international talent in their pre-peak period. Alvaro Fernandez, Fredy Montero, Osvaldo Alonso, and Steve Zakuani are the start of this, but you can even look at the likely Centerback pairing next season of Patrick Ianni and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado who will also be outside of that peak period of 26-30. Since MLS isn't a top 10 league in the world, a team can be built around players that are climbing the ladder trying to improve their skills. Seattle is certain to continue in this direction.

3.  The Fire played a Wednesday/Saturday combo last week and seemed to suffer in their Saturday game because of it. How do you think the Sounders will play having played this Wednesday?  

Seattle has gotten a bit used to the Double in its breif history. Last year's US Open Cup winning run, plus this year's run to the Semi-Final and their activity in both the Prelims and Group Stage of the CONCACAF Champions League have meant that they have had more than a dozen competitive Doubles in less than two years. The Sounders are a deep team, and Sigi tends to rotate players into and out of the lineup with fair frequency due to injury, or just match up concerns.

This is most true at the second center mid (where Sturgis starts now, but has been played by Evans, Vagenas, Ianni, Seamon) and at the right midfield where I feel like nearly every player seems to play at some point. The Rave Green are also home for this stretch which should help a bit. We actually don't expect many starting lineup changes (just Zach Scott for Leo Gonzalez due to Red Card suspension), but I would expect to see earlier than typical substitutions, including maybe one at halftime again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

MLS Roundup


Philadelphia 1 - Colorado 1
The Union were quite unlucky not to score more goals.  Le Toux and Mwanga created chance after chance with no luck until they connected in the 71st minute.  The halftime show for this game showed only Philadelphia highlights, I kid you not.  It looked like Philadelphia was going to be really unlucky when Jeff Larentowicz scored a goal off post corner kick madness in the 59th minute.  Justin Mapp came into the game as a sub... yeah we aren't mi$$ing anything.  This game helped because Colorado is up on us by 7 points and we have 3 games in hand.  Best to keep them close even if it means giving a point to Philly.

Los Angeles 1 - New York 0
Another day, another goalless game for Thierry Henry.  Edson Buddle scored in the 13th minute and that no doubt had the Fox Soccer Channel folks salivating for a goal war.  Instead the Red Bulls do not get any goals or any points and the Fire are just 10 points behind in the standings with 4 games in hand.  Three wins and a tie?  Yeah I think we can do that.  Catching LA Galaxy though?  They might as well be in another... well yeah, you get the point. 

Salt Lake 2 - Columbus 0 
Javier Morales provided all the firepower in this game with goals in the 11th and 60th minutes.  This was a borderline help as I don't think we can reach Columbus but keeping them down doesn't hurt.  If anything Real Salt Lake's success makes the wounds of last year's semi-final defeat feel better.  At the time I thought we had lost to a fluke team but hats off to them, they have the mark of a dynasty starting.

Seattle 0 - Chivas USA 0
Zach Thornton and Kasey Keller stifled both of their opposing offenses and fans left the Home Depot Center without a single goal.  This game is a big big help to the Fire because I fully expected Seattle to get yet another recent victory.  Seattle is ahead of us by 8 points but we have a whopping 5 games in hand.  Our match in Seattle on August 28th and the home match against them on September 25th are going to be key games in the playoff race.


New England 1 - Houston 0
Houston's season is really going to pieces so for them to get the odd win here would have been nice.  Illja Stolica scored in the 62nd minute to give Revs the victory.  Don't look now but the Revolution are tied with us with 21 points.  We have two games in hand but much of that advantage will be lost if the team can't beat New England this Wednesday at Toyota Park.  I'll have more on that matchup later.

Dallas 3 - D.C. 1
D.C. United continues to be an almost guaranteed three points for whoever they play this year.  Dallas was coasting after goals by David Ferreira (36th minute) and Eric Alexander (49th) until Dallas' own Jair Benitez made it interesting for D.C. in the 80th minute with an own goal.  Jeff Cunningham put out any D.C. hopes for points in the 93rd minute after he caught Dejan Jakovic snoozing.  Cunningham then continued to embarrass D.C. goaltender Bill Hamid to make it 3-1.  There is nothing spectacular about FC Dallas but they just refuse to lose.  We have 3 games in hand on them but a difference of 12 points.  I don't think they are a team we could realistically catch.

San Jose 1 - Kansas City 0 
Chris Wondolowski scored in the 35th minute for the Earthquakes and that is all she wrote.  A tie obviously would have been best but I would even take a KC win.  The Earthquakes just seem to be a more solid team and they are talking about adding a designated player.  Meanwhile KC confirmed this week that they are investing into Omar Bravo but not until the 2011 season.  Wizards now trail us by one point with three games down and the Quakes are up by 5 points on us with a 2 game disadvantage. 

Yes, we have games in hand on every team.  16 games played while every other team has at least 18 games played.  We'll start picking up on teams this Wednesday when we are the only match of the day. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Big Announcement

Big announcement coming for the blog.  Hopefully everything will be unveiled in the next couple of days.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sean Johnson Wins Save of the Week

Another week, another Sean Johnson Save of the Week!

I'm beginning to think the population advantage of Chicago might be coming into play here... but then again you have to be nominated first.  Congratulations to Sean Johnson, let's hope he can keep it up.

MLS Roundup


Philadelphia 1 - Salt Lake 1

I really hope some first timers to PPL Park didn't get lost or mistime going from the parking lot to the stadium.  If so, they likely missed the only goals of the game.  Danny Mwanga scored off of a brilliant pass from Sebastien La Toux in the 9th minute while Fabian Espindola probably got himself a goal of the week nomination just 7 minutes later.  Philadelphia has been like a bizzaro 2010 USMNT scoring early and giving up goals to lose or draw after their early success.  I think this game hurt because Real Salt Lake totally imploding is less likely than Philly going on a run and fighting us for playoff competition.

New York 1 - Toronto 0

Joel Lindpere was the one to find the back of the net but Thierry Henry really did all of the work drawing seemingly everyone in the Toronto metropolitan area on him and then using fancy footwork to make them all look like high school defenders.  A little touch pass to Seth Stammier and chip pass from Stammier to Lindpere - boom - New York scores the only goal of the game.  The best outcome for the Fire would have been a tie because these teams are so close.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nery Castillo vs. Marco Pappa... in Tennis?!

Fire Facebook page:

"A new post-practice Fire tradition...SOCCER TENNIS: Nery vs. Marco!  Ever since Nery Castillo joined the club, he and Marco Pappa have played a post-practice soccer tennis match against each other...Check out a clip from today's match!"

Said clip 

You gotta love Nery getting along with his new teammates.  I'm pretty pumped to see that.  Can we get them an actual net though?  I mean that metal bench is a freak injury waiting to happen.  Great stuff though - kudos to the Front Office for sharing.