No offense to the San Jose Earthquakes but when you are outplayed at home by San Jose, your team is in serious trouble.
The Fire squandered another match at Toyota Park, another chance at precious points in the stacked Eastern Conference, but instead of take the three points from the expansion strugglers, Chicago finished a terrible June with another poor effort.
San Jose won’t complain. With points tough to come by, the Earthquakes will look to build on one of its better performances to date. It might not lead to a playoff run, but it’s a positive step in an otherwise difficult season.
SBI correspondents Stephen Wattles and Kevin Matthiessen took in the action and shared their thoughts on the scoreless draw with us:
Family helps one fan avoid the Fire disappointments
By STEPHEN WATTLES
For the best reason I’ll ever come across, I had totally neglected the Fire for two weeks. My wife and I were experiencing the thrill, joy, frustration, confusion, and exhaustion of becoming first time parents. It turns out while I was gone the Fire were continuing to experience the latter three as well.
When I say I neglected the Fire, I’m not kidding around. No bigsoccer, no mlsnet.com, no Red Card, and GASP! No SBI! Most days I’ll hit all of them a handful of times before lunch. But there has been nothing usual about trying to learn how to raise my beautiful little girl, Mackenzie (I know, shameless) the newest member of the Chicago Fire fan base, right down to her little red Puma boots.
It turns out that the timing of my Fire sabbatical couldn’t have been any better. Like a pediatrician escaping during flu season, an accountant going on holiday for the month of April, or a farmer getting out of town for planting season, I have managed to miss what I hope is the low point of the Fire’s season.
The only account I received from the Chivas game was from my 10 year-old friend Austin who reported: ‘Steve, did you see the Fire last night? They couldn’t score to save their lives!” Turns out I would get to see a redux of that sentiment this weekend.
My circumstances also put me in the unusual position of watching a home game from my couch, and was I glad to have not made the drive to Bridgeview for this stinker! This was a game a struggling team needed to win (no I’m not talking about San Jose). And the Fire showed no indication that they would ever do it. They generated only three scoring chances versus two shots off the woodwork for the Earthquakes. They actually deserved to lose.
Logan Pause gets little credit for what he brings to this team. But Saturday night it can easily be seen what he brings, as the midfield was outplayed much of the evening. Diego Gutierrez can’t fill the role in the middle of the park nearly as well, and his distribution on the night was horrible. Lider Marmol made the bench for the first time in this match, and Tuesday’s US Open Cup match provides the perfect opportunity for him to audition for the starting role at holding midfielder, at least until Pause can return.
But Gutierrez was not the only one to blame. The team had no shape. They chased out of position, committed foolish and unnecessary fouls, left back passes short, and consistently gave the ball away cheaply. Otherwise they looked great.
The pre-season concerns for the offense and the quality of the strikers has come to pass but thankfully this is correctable. Frank Klopas, you know what to do. Now get on the phone to Toronto and get it done. The only names on your short list of untouchables should be Blanco, Busch, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, Mapp.
What the heck has happened to this team? At the beginning of the month the Fire were a cohesive unit scoring at will and sitting top of the heap in MLS. Now they’re fighting in the locker room and sniping at one another on the field. And of course they ‘can’t score to save their lives’, or if you prefer a more technical description: have scored one goal in a one point month and gone 333 minutes since finding the net.
At the beginning of the month, dreams of Supporters Shields danced in our heads. Now as the month concludes, the stark reality is that if the season were to end today the Fire would be clinging to the final invitation to the MLS playoffs. Back then, Fire fans were so bold as to declare we only wanted Brian McBride if we didn’t have to give up ‘too much’. Now its clear the Fire need him and there is no ‘too much’ on our roster.
Earthquakes put on strong display in tying Fire
By KEVIN MATTHIESSEN
The Earthquakes visited the Chicago Fire on Saturday night and came away with a hard-fought draw. As they did when the Fire visited the bay area back in April, the ‘Quakes dominated the game and should have netted at least a couple for the win. And again, it wasn’t meant to be.
There were a number of very encouraging things that happened that we can hang our hats on for now. They could very well be turning the proverbial corner real soon.
Ramiro Corrales looked like a man who wants to keep his job in the defensive midfield role. Maybe he has heard that Frank Yallop mentioned getting DM help in the transfer window. Maybe he noticed how well recent trialist Franciso Lima played in training. He was all over the field winning tackles and playing with composure. He showed excellent creativity and ball control and is starting to show why he became a leader and fan favorite in Norway. Hopefully he consistently puts in these types of performances so the powers-that-be can concentrate on bringing in a strong and creative attacking midfield playmaker and an accomplished striker.
The defense made only one mistake I can remember. That was a poor Kelly Gray pass in the back that luckily wasn’t punished by the Fire-offense which in recent weeks has gone cold. Skipper Nick Garcia was back in the lineup after missing a number of games due to injury. Though Garcia is not the tallest, fastest, and most athletic of center backs, he is a great leader. He’s a good communicator and organizer of team defense.
The best thing about Nick Garcia is that he plays with his heart on his sleeve and gets pissed! Sure calmness under pressure is sometimes a good quality to have but I want passion! And Garcia brings it. Now Joe Cannon seems to be bringing it as well. The Earthquakes need to get mad as hell out on the field and bring home some points!
Why should they be mad as hell? Because they’re 3-8-3 when they could be 8-3-3. Be mad as hell because you are representing Bay Area soccer fans that have been put through the ringer. Be mad as hell because as an expansion team you’ve already been written off and you don’t get any respect.
Joe Cannon showed glimpses of his past self with a number of stellar saves. Did I mention he looked pissed? I think I saw some veins popping out of his forehead a couple of times.
All these things are encouraging. Unfortunately I can’t get something out of my head. Now I hope I am proved wrong and eat my words but I’m done with Kei Kamara. He used to be my favorite ’08 Quake with his size, speed, and monumental potential. Problem with all that is no matter how much of that you have, if you don’t score goals, it all doesn’t matter.
Kei Kamara has a bad first touch. He shows this time and time again. He looks so awkward on the ball. He has a hard time holding it up and can’t get himself in good position to score to save his life. Speaking of scoring, he can’t shoot either! He missed a near-sitter towards the end of the game that could have given the ‘Quakes a road victory. Sometimes he stops to complain to the ref or a fellow player even if play continues and will be late to react to what’s going on in the game. I even saw him yell at Ivan Guerrero for a bad cross. I said to myself, "Are you kidding me? Sit down a shut-up kid. Guerrero makes one bad pass and you get on him? You make bad moves all game long."
Simply put, he needs to start producing goals now otherwise he should be dealt, waived or simply benched. Let’s hope some proven talent arrives soon. Enough about this "potential" crap. I mean, that’s what College is for, right?