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Sunday, March 3

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Fire Fri Jul 20 2012

Good News, Bad News for Fire

On Saturday night it looked like the doom and gloom after last week's loss to the LA Galaxy was premature. The Fire rebounded with a convincing 1-0 win over Vancouver in which they were full of energy and enthusiasm.

Then they turned around and put in another lethargic display in a 1-0 loss to New York. So, is it back to doom and gloom? Maybe not. The Fire has already matched the number of wins they had during the entirety of last season and we haven't even gotten to the All Star game yet.

If there was a running theme in Galaxy game's postgame quotes, it's that nobody was more upset by their anemic performance than the players themselves. Against Vancouver, they certainly showed that was more than just talk. They completely outworked, outhustled and outplayed Vancouver from the opening window. In fact, I'm not even sure Vancouver had gotten the ball out of their half before Pavel Pardo's 10th minute goal.

Speaking of which, let's all take a second to watch that one more time:

It wasn't just the goal, though. Pardo and his midfield partner Logan...Pause won virtually every loose ball in the middle of the field, setting the Fire up for wave after wave of attack. Behind them, Arne Friedrich turned in his most imperious performance yet, stifling out counter attacks with complete nonchalance, organizing the defense, and pointing out where practically every pass should go to the younger players. It's a pity he got ejected, accumulating two yellow cards for maybe the only two fouls he committed all game.

If there was a running theme during the New York game, it was, "Man, it's hot and we're tired." For some reason the New York game was played at noon on in 95 degree heat in front of what looked to be about 300 day campers. Neither team played at anything close to full speed, but Chicago looked like they were just waiting for the game to end so they could go take a nap. It added a little fuel to the argument that Frank Klopas has not been using enough of his squad. With the same fourteen guys eating up most of the minutes, it's not surprising that the Fire tends to drop points when they play more than one game a week.

Another factor is the way the Fire plays. If you noticed, the players I singled out for praise a couple of paragraphs ago were all defensive players. With the midfield missing Sebastian Grazzini, the Fire aren't exactly making other teams chase the ball around and do all the work. Instead, they're gutting out close wins that could be blowouts (see, the Vancouver game on Saturday night) and then paying the price a game or two down the road.

Still, for a fan watching games week in and week out, as frustrating as this group can be, it's still a rewarding team to watch. They have an incredibly strong group mentality and the leaders on the team actually act like leaders. When Pavel Pardo scored, he celebrated by running halfway down the field to hug players on the Fire bench. After Arne Friedrich got red carded, he shook off the disappointment for a second on his way to the showers to stop at the touchline and applaud the home fans. It's moments like that that make it hard not to get behind these guys.

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