Apparently Mike Banner is going to start again according to Breaking Sports Chicago.  The Chicago Fire twitter hit us with the following a few hours ago:

the fire’s having their pregame breakfast at the team hotel! Countdown 4 hrs till match start – expect some new faces in the starting XI!

So new faces in the 11.  I would have thought John and Kroll would get the nod this week.  Maybe Kroll is moving to the inside if Conde doesn’t play?  Does Kwame get the call before Kroll does?

UPDATE:

Starting Lineup courtesy of En Fuego:

Andrew Dykstra – GK
Tim Ward – DEF
Kwame Watson-Siriboe – DEF
CJ Brown – DEF
Krzysztof Krol – DEF
Patrick Nyarko – MID
Logan Pause – MID
Peter Lowry – MID
Marco Pappa – MID
Collins John – FWD
Brian McBride – FWD (c)

So the Mike Banner report was wrong.  Martinez is out and Nyarko moves into the midfield.  Siriboe starts in place of the injured Conde.  This game is going to be interesting defensively.

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OK, could we just all calm the fuck down?  I realize the Fire lost last weekend.  Shit I was there standing in the fucking cold rooting the boys on.  Yet I was mildly encouraged by the loss.  There were problems but for a team looking to establish a new style of play I thought things went pretty well outside of Logan Pause doing some ball watching at an unfortunate time and the team not creating enough chances (Nyarko tried his damnedest but the rest of the midfield didn’t get rolling until a nice spell in the second half).  I wrote up my thoughts for ASN on the game.  Quick summary: I wasn’t suicidal after the game.  Could have just as easily ended in a draw.  So reading the limited previews I could find about this game you would think the team is completely and utterly fucked after one game.  OK you got me.  Really I’m just talking about the last meaningful post of Sam Stejskal at Fire Confidential.

All offseason, we heard that this year’s version of the Fire would attractively attack. They were supposed to use possession in build up, moving the ball from the back line, through the midfield and — ultimately — to the forwards. The thing is, we didn’t see that at all in last week’s match against the Red Bulls.

Really Sam?  I think we were watching different games.  While the forwards never fully tested Condoul the team did build through the midfield.  The second half of that game was mostly possession by the Fire and they did create some opportunities for their forwards right after Collins John subbed in.  Nyarko in particular was excellent all game and Pappa had some nice moments in the second half.

A true championship contender wouldn’t get bossed around in the midfield to a team coming off a historically bad season. A true championship contender wouldn’t have several players lay an absolute stinker.

Oh you have to be fucking kidding me.  For one the Fire didn’t get ‘bossed around’ in the midfield.  If they did the Red Bulls would have created a lot more chances than the two or three they actually had.  Several players laid stinkers (nice use of a clichéd term there)?  Who?  I thought Logan Pause was bad last week and it was clear Mike Banner still isn’t a left back, yet neither of them were complete failures at their position.  I didn’t feel that anyone was particularly awful.  You could point at Martinez as having a bad game but he wasn’t awful just not as good as expected.  I thought Ward played solid if rusty.  Many people seem to disagree with me on that.  Still he wasn’t a problem in terms of giving up goals or really a lot of chances.

A true championship contender wouldn’t come out flat.

I wonder if Sam knows who won MLS Cup last season?  Wasn’t it a team that had a sub .500 regular season who backed into the playoffs riding a hot goalie to the cup? Oh yeah it was.  Maybe he is talking about the Supporter’s shield.  He couldn’t have possibly made a statement that could be easily contradicted by looking at last year’s March/April results. Oh shit he did.  Fucking Columbus got blitzed 4-1 in their season opener and didn’t win a game until May 9th.  So teams that start the season flat and have players ‘lay stinkers’ (gross) do actually win championships.  Looks like blogger Sam has a short memory.

Adding to the difficulty is the fact that the Rapids, who won 1-0 last week at Chivas USA, are a better team than the Red Bulls. They are a veteran laden squad that has a significant amount of talent — especially in the attacking part of the field. The Fire is going to have to bring a much better effort this weekend if they want to come back to Chicago with points.

Under what metric can anyone state that the Rapids are definitively better than the Red Bulls at this point? I watched the condensed version of the Rapids game on MLS streaming and they didn’t exactly create a lot of chances.  They converted on a very nice, perhaps lucky, goal by Omar Cummings who had the ball gifted to him on a failed Chivas clearance.  The Rapids are also busy integrating a whole bunch of new players into the side, much like the Fire.  If you can draw anything so far from this young season its that Chivas USA has some issues right now.

Finding an identity wouldn’t hurt either…

Your right it is downright shocking and disappointing that one game into the season with new players, coach and style of play that the Fire haven’t carved out a team wide identity to be feared.  The temerity of those assholes.

One preview that didn’t make me want to slam it in a blog post:

Len Zeihm has a nice preview of the game up at the South Town Star website.  Tim Ward gets some quote time and Len breaks the news that Collins John will most likely start this weekend.  Most importantly he doesn’t freak out about the entire team after one game.  Way to show restraint Len!

So MLSsoccer.com’s content is good right?

Lets check in with MLSsoccer.com and their preview of the game.  Oh my what a piece of shit.  Seriously read this for yourself.  I’ll wait here and ponder the state of our defense without Wilman Conde playing (shit shit shit he needs to play).

Did you learn anything there? The most pertinent information is on the left side of the screen in the injuries section where Wilman Conde is listed as questionable with a foot contusion.  Is that information included in the actual game preview?  No.  In fact Conde is highlighted as part of the heroes and villains section (so fucking lame) in his battle with Conor Casey.  Way to go MLS Soccer dot com this was completely worthless.  The section subtitled Stat that makes you go hmmm should die a painful death.  MLSsoccer.com it would be great if you would treat your readers as adults instead of simpletons who need their information described with cutesy headers.  I would love to tell you who wrote this dreck but no one attached their name to it.  That is probably for the best.

Blogger news:

So Sam Stejskal is leaving Fire Confidential to write about the Fire for MLSsoccer.com.  Great he will continue to litter my life with bad previews, short-term memory, reminders that he is a student, and a nugget of news here and there. Guillermo from the comments section at Fire Confidential is taking over that blog.  Well he should be better than Sam. Best of luck Guillermo.


@beacoupKevin

EVEN MORE ALTERNATE TIGER WOODS MOMENT I’LL ACCEPT: “Into dudes now. Who wants their slice?”

@paulsen_smw

Interesting hearing the NBC News Special Report music — used for 9/11, deaths, presidential addresses — used for Tiger Woods statement.

@sbjsbd

Golf Writers won’t go to Woods’ event as pool reporters; @jonshow_sbj says vote was 19 to boycott, 4 to go, 3 abstained. http://ow.ly/194dD

@OGochocinco

Tiger Woods speaks in 40 minutes, any bets on tears flowing as part of the apoligy? Tears worked for me to get an ex back n 1995.

@itma

Why can’t y’all let a Buddhist be great? #tiger


Fake Sigi brings the noise.

As for Peter King, well, check out his first professional soccer game in England, also last year.

“The enthusiasm of the crowd, particularly the end-zone nutjobs, never wavered. . . I walked away wondering if there’s anything in America like the constant hum of a 90-minute match with the kind of tradition football in Britain has. I’m not sure there is. Maybe a big college-football rivalry or a Red Sox-Yankees playoff game, or Canadiens-Leafs when both are hot. I don’t know. I doubt it.”

I don’t know fuckhead, maybe ANY Seattle Sounders game? Or any good MLS or WPS playoff match? Or the National Teams? Ok, fine you sort of have us at the tradition, but seriously. IS THERE ANYTHING IN AMERICA LIKE THIS NO NOT AT ALL FUCK FACE SOCCER DOESN’T EXIST HERE GO BACK TO WRITING ABOUT YOUR POINTY BALL I HATE YOU.

This is in response to SI announcing that fuck hole Peter King will be sent to South Africa to cover the World Cup. Of course King could turn in total train wreck columns which will make for compelling internet theatre.


The awesome Tom Dunmore, curator of Pitch Invasion, wrote a reaction to the news that the Champions League final is to be broadcasted on Fox.  His comments center around if this is good for MLS or not.

At the same time, it’s been pretty clear for some time that when MLS targets its marketing to people that already like soccer — and much of this “liking” comes from watching overseas broadcasts of it — it bears fruit.

His article, particularly the above quote, got me thinking about how I went from a World Cup fan to a die-hard Fire fan.  I always watched the World Cups.  I started by following the 1990 world cup on TNT, stayed up late for the games from Korea, took days off to watch the games from Germany and generally tried to pay attention to what was going on with the national team.  Sometime around 2003 I found myself going back to school and having my days free.  Still buzzing from the after effects of the 2002 World Cup I started watching more soccer on Fox Sports World or whatever it was called before it became Fox Soccer Channel.  There were always games on during the weekday afternoons, either live or taped, didn’t mater to me which. I can distinctly remember watching Lyon celebrate one of their French titles with every one of the guys on the field dying their hair the Lyon colors for the final, inconsequential, game of the season.  The free-flowing action, the 2 hour time frame in which games completed and the sweet lack of commercial interruption was slowly but surely turning me into a huge fan.  I found myself getting up to see Arsenal and Everton play at 6 AM on Saturday mornings.  Thierry Henry and Thomas Gravesen were my guys.  I dug Arsenal due to their entertaining and winning ways, Everton because they had a bunch of bald guys who would beat the shit out of you.  Plus Everton were upstarts trying to break up the hegemony of the EPL and that appealed to me.  Weirdly enough I never got into Fulham or following the Americans around the EPL.  I didn’t really have a favorite American player.

I decided to wait to attend my first soccer game until Toyota Park was built.  I tried keeping track of the Fire at that time but was pretty bad at doing it.  Fast forward to a Sunday (or Saturday) afternoon (or evening) sometime during July (I think) of 2006 (most likely) at Toyota Park.  There was a merch give away that day of Chicago Fire baseball caps courtesy of RadioShack. I still have that hat, two of them actually. The Fire played a nil-nil (this I’m pretty sure of) draw against a team I can’t remember.  I don’t remember much about the game other than Justin Mapp was player of the match for me and Nate Jaqua (then with the Fire) was driving me insane for his inability to play hard during the ridiculously hot afternoon.  Section 8 was in as full of throat as could be expected for such a hot day.  Thankfully our seats were in the shade that day.

I came back for the all-star game versus Chelsea where I ended up with this awesome view for most of the game:

Fucking Cameramen After this awesome start to my live soccer fandom I was hooked.  We went to a handful of games during 07, bought a 20 game flex pack for 2008, sat in the cheap $100 season tickets for 2009 and now have full-fledged season tickets in the skyway section for 2010.

My point is that it takes time to convert people who casually watch the European leagues into full fledged MLS fans.  The time will come where some of these people will become a supporters of their local team.  The rest of them will never be real supporters.


This is a huge transitional off-season for the Fire.  Many important decisions need to be made, or have been made.  This is what we, the Fire fan, know.

Coaching search:  The team interviewed a bunch of prospective candidates and whittled that down a few weeks ago to three finalists.  They were Jesse Marsch, Tom Soehn, and Carlos de los Cobos.  For the past two weeks Carlos de los Cobos has been pegged the front leader because he was seen having dinner with Javier Leon (Fire VP and right hand man of owner Andrew Hauptman).  On December 22nd Medio Tiempo tweeted that he would be announced as the new Fire head coach (Carlos de los Cobos podría ser presentado en breve como nuevo técnico del Chicago Fire de la MLS.).  There have been some comments made by de los Cobos in the Spanish language press that indicated he was negotiating with an MLS club.  Most recently de los Cobos denied anything was imminent.  Goff picked up on the story from there and seems to have confirmed that he is the front-runner for the job.  He initially reported that his hiring was imminent but then reported a day later that his hiring hinges on the signing of 24-year-old Salvadoran winger Julio Martinez.  Yesterday Ives chimed in saying we should know more by the end of the day.  In typical Ives fashion regarding the Fire, he was wrong.

There is so much speculation about de los Cobos, from multiple sources, that it looks like he will hired.  When is he going to be announced as the new coach seems the bigger question.

UPDATE: Klopas denies that search is complete.  Either there is an issue with de los Cobos or its just about done and Klopas doesn’t want to spill anything.

Player Transactions:

To go along with the coaching rumors we have had multiple rumors of incoming players.

Ebi Smolarek: DP rumors swirled and then abated when Ebi finally signed with a european club.

Salim Toama: Reports from Isreal indicate the Fire were sniffing around him.  30 year old wing player who spent time with Standard Liege (Thanks to MHaifa1913 on the Big Soccer forums for posting this and translating).

Julio Martinez: The aforementioned 24 year old Salvadoran winger that Chivas USA are also after according to this Esmi TV report.  According to Goff

Krzysztof Krol: 23 year old Polish left back that the Fire allegedly have made a loan with option to buy offer according to sport.pl.  He now plays for  Jagiellonia (thanks to JL Murtaugh of the Section 8 forums for posting this and giving a rough translation).

There also has been speculation that the Fire have a discovery claim for one of the recently signed trio of  Colombians: America De Cali central defender Edward Zea, Deportivo Cali central defender Pablo Escobar and Deportes Quindio central defender Hanyer Mosquera.  Rumors have pointed to Kansas City and Philly Union as getting two of them.  So far nothing is confirmed and just speculation at this point.

Getting a left back is high priority since David Myrie was selected in the expansion draft and Gonzalo Segares will not be returning next season (This just broke, he is close to signing with Apollon FC in Cyprus).  One would think that since the Fire are trying to sign another winger that Justin Mapp is not thought of as a starter for next season.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few rumors above.  If you have anything to add please do.


Looks like the Fire will lose David Myrie in the expansion draft.  Official list not quite out yet.

 

Update:  It is Official.