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Fire Mon May 19 2008

It's Not How You Start, It's How You Finish

I had read a few glowing stories in the middle of the week, and had an uneasy feeling. Then, when I got to Toyota Park and saw it on the big screen, I knew we were in trouble. The opening video touted how at 5-1-1, the Fire were off to their best “seven game start” of the season in club history. Surely the jinx was on.

At first it didn’t look like there was much to worry about. The Fire came out of the gates flying, creating two good chances in the first ten minutes and barely allowing Houston a kick at the ball. Then in the fifteenth minute, after the first sustained spell of possession from Houston all game, Houston scored a flukey goal when a harmless shot ricocheted off both a Chicago and Houston player, leaving goalie Jon Busch stranded in the rain and slick grass. From there, Houston came into the game more, but in response, Cuahtemoc Blanco, who had been playing further forward than usual, dropped into his own half to start a play that eventually led to a free kick. From the free kick he picked out Calen Carr who headed in the equalizer.

So coming out of the locker room at half time the Fire should have regained their earlier confidence and energy. Instead it was the Houston Dynamo that took control of the second half, winning almost every 50-50 ball and forcing the Fire into a defensive shell. Maybe they had just put in too much of an effort in that opening flurry. The Fire just plain looked out of gas. In the 82nd minute Houston’s pressure paid off when Bobby Boswell (who took some heat from Fire fans this week for voicing an opinion about Toyota Park’s Bridgeview location that’s actually shared by most Fire fans) scored on a header to win the game.

There isn’t any shame in losing to Houston, they're a good team. But the game should serve as a reminder to anyone getting carried away that it doesn’t matter how well you start a season or a game. Just look at the Dynamo. They started last season at 2-5-1 and ended up champions. I'd trade the Fire's 5-2-1 start to this season for that any day.

 
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