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Wednesday, May 22

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Fire Fri Jul 06 2012

Keeper Fuels Fire's 4-Game Unbeaten Streak

I don't want to jinx it, but the Chicago Fire is racking up a pretty impressive unbeaten run.

It started with a 3-1 demolition of New York, then came a short-handed 2-1 win against Columbus, was followed by a 1-0 smash-and-grab raid against Kansas City, and then a hard fought 0-0 tie against Houston on the road. Despite the streak, the Fire are still sitting fourth in the Eastern Conference, but they're much closer to breaking into the top three than falling out of the top five.

There are certainly times when the Fire has looked good, but they've also shown they can be hard to break down defensively. They know how to win ugly and that's an important quality in a league that crowns its champion via playoffs.

One of the biggest factors in the unbeaten run has been the stellar play of goalkeeper Sean Johnson. It's safe to say he's handled himself in the right after his Olympic qualifying error and the talk should be less focused on that and more on when he'll get a shot with the senior national team. Ridiculous saves are starting to become routine from him.

Part of the reason the Johnson has had so many saves to make in recent games may be due to be the uncertainty surrounding their midfield playmaker, Sebastian Grazzini. His contract expired in June and it's turned into a real saga. The Fire announced they exercised their option to extend the contract and promptly left him out of the traveling squad for the past two games? Tweed Thornton has a rundown of what may or may not be happening with Grazzini over at Hot Time in the Old Town. Suffice it to say, it's a distraction and the Fire tends to be better on the ball with him on the field.

That's not to say Chris Rolfe, who has slotted into Grazzini's midfield spot, hasn't been doing a good job. A converted forward; he's a very different player from Grazzini. There were questions about where he'd fit in when he returned from his stint in Europe to a very different Fire team, but the answer is anywhere he wants. He's got great skill and vision, a tremendous work-rate, and a real eye for the counter attack as shown in the breakout he orchestrated against Kansas City:

Another midfield option is the newly signed Alex. There is a lot to like about him. He only has one name. He's Brazilian. Oh, and he's played really well in the limited minutes he's seen so far.

Speaking of midfielders, the league's most famous one, David Beckham, will not be making the trip with the LA Galaxy to Toyota Park this Sunday. He got suspended for kicking a ball at an injured player in his last game, possibly in frustration at a time wasting tactic from the opposing team, possibly out of pent up anger at not making Great Britain's Olympic team, or possibly because he just wanted some time off to go to London for the Olympics.

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Andrew / July 9, 2012 12:57 PM

You jinxed it!

Steve Gillies / July 9, 2012 4:09 PM

My bad, Mr. Hauptman.

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