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Sunday, March 3

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Fire Wed Jul 11 2012

So Much For That Unbeaten Streak

Yep. I jinxed it.

As soon as I started to get excited about the Fire's unbeaten streak, it came to a crashing halt with an ignominious 2-0 defeat at the hands of the LA Galaxy. It's the latest setback in what's been a two-step-forward, one-step-back kind of season, and possibly the most demoralizing.

For one thing, it happened in front of a sold-out Toyota Park crowd. There were a few extra thousand people than usual at the game to enjoy the first tolerable stretch of weather in days and wonder how David Beckham was going to suit up for the Galaxy when they saw him sitting in the crowd at Wimbledon that morning.

Well, the suspended Beckham didn't show up and Landon Donovan only came off the bench. For a team that's still struggling to get attention in a crowded sports market, you really want to put your best foot forward on the big occasion. Losing to a team that the most casual of observers will recognize as below full strength is not the way to do that.

But it wasn't just that they lost. It's the way they lost. The Fire's passing was sloppy, they lost the ball too easily in midfield, and in general looked bereft of ideas or creativity. Come to think of it, they haven't looked particularly good with the ball for a while; it just hasn't mattered in road games where they've focused on defending and counter attacking. With LA taking the lead relatively early and happy to sit back and let the Fire come at them, the disarray of the Fire's midfield situation was exposed.

Sebastian Grazzini has gone back to Argentina now amidst a cloud of uncertainty. To add to the uncertainty, it's transfer season in Europe, and rumors of Marco Pappa leaving midseason will not go away. So that's the two most creative elements of the midfield, officially unsettled.

Under Frank Klopas the Fire have slowly gone from a terrible team to a kind-of-bad team, to an OK team. There have even been recent glimpses of the Fire looking like a sort of good team. The thought of losing two key guys has me a little worried that it could get kind-of-bad team again before it gets better.

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