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Sunday, March 3

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Fire Mon Mar 30 2009

So Far So Good, With a Caveat or Two

Two games into the season, the 2009 Chicago Fire have shown a type of mettle that wasn't there last year. In their first game, they came back from going a goal down to beat FC Dallas 3-1. And let's get this straight, they didn't come back from just any goal. They came back from this:

Less emphatic, but just as encouraging, was their second half against DC United this week. After being completely outplayed in the first half, the Fire managed to turn the game around and earn a deserved tie. It wasn't a vintage performance, but considering they were missing Gonzalo Segares and Bakary Soumare, getting out of DC with a point is a good result. And for a coach that was often criticized for not being able to make adjustments on the fly, two comebacks on the road have to be considered progress.

Not everyone is happy in the Fire camp though. Cuahtemoc Blanco shocked nobody when he announced this would be his last season with the Fire. What was surprising, however, was that he mentioned the possibility of going to another MLS team rather than retire or finish his career in Mexico. After starting the first game on the bench, Blanco contradicted coach Denis Hamlet's claim that he was short of match fitness due to a preseason injury. He also said he thought Hamlet's squad had too many defenders and needed more midfielders. None of this is as outrageous as the kind of shenanigans that went on with Wilman Conde, Tomasz Frankowski, etc. last year. Also, he's not exactly wrong about the midfield. Still, it shows one of the biggest challenges that Hamlet faces this year: keeping the locker room drama free while he manages both the aging Blanco's minutes and his ego.

Here's an example of the kind of talking Blanco should be doing in order to see more time on the field:

Another down note for the Fire was CJ Brown limping off the field early on against DC. Sidelined all of last season with injuries, the latest set back for the Fire captain is not only frustrating, it raises the question of whether or not we'll ever see the old CJ Brown back again. You don't have to be Cuahtemoc Blanco to note that the Fire has enough depth in defense that the absence of CJ doesn't hurt the team. But as the last member of the original '98 Fire still playing, CJ's absence is felt in other ways.

There isn't really any youtube footage of CJ Brown to put here except for one interview - and it's not that one where he dropped the F-bomb. So in this space let's just all close our eyes and picture a bone crunching tackle from CJ, or if you must, that thing he'd do with his shorts on really hot days...

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FireExaminer / March 31, 2009 8:44 AM

Another bad omen, possibly, for CJ Brown is the signing of Andrew Dykstra. For now, because Carr is on the IR, no addition roster moves have to take place, but with one too many players on the roster someone needs to go when Carr gets healthy.

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