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Saturday, September 26

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Fire Mon May 26 2008


Well, at least one team treated it as more than your typical, early season MLS league game. The Fire creamed Juan Carlos Osorio’s New York Red Bulls 5-1 on the road. Osorio had to watch the demolition job from somewhere in the stands thanks to a red card last week, but he wouldn’t have been able to do anything from the bench either. This Fire team is really hitting its stride and had the extra motivation of playing against their old coach, so the Red Bulls didn't stand a chance.

Coach Denis Hamlet has been making decisions based as much on team chemistry as tactics and individual talent. His decision to start controversial Columbian defender Wilman Conde showed both a great understanding of player management and a sound tactical mind.

Over the past couple of weeks, Hamlet has let Conde know that the opportunity to win his place in the lineup is there, but he has to work for it. By giving him his shot in the starting lineup against New York, the team Conde requested to be traded to, Hamlet gave Conde the best possible position to win back the trust of his teammates. Based on Conde’s performance on Sunday, I’d say he’s back in the fold for now. (Chances are he’ll go to Europe sooner or later, he’s just too good not to).

Conde’s place on defense meant Diego Gutierrez was pushed into the midfield alongside Logan…Pause. You’d think adding a defensive midfielder would be a defensive move. Instead …Pause and Diego’s presence in the midfield allowed the attacking trio of Chris Rolfe, Justin Mapp and Blanco complete freedom behind hard-working target man Chad Barrett. It resulted in a confused New York defense that left a lot more room than advisable for Blanco. Predictably, the man picked the Red Bulls apart with the first two assists, plus a goal from the penalty spot.

The result leaves the Fire at the top of the MLS standings on goal differential (and look at that whopping 12-2 stat on the road). With the way the team is playing right now, pretty much the only thing bad thing you can say is they have next weekend off.

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