Fire tie TFC, another disappointing 2-2 performance

Justin MappDeRo

By Alex Simon

It was an ugly performance by both teams’ backlines Saturday night.  However, a late inexcusable mistake by a Fire substitute let the visiting TFC (Toronto FC) side off the hook.  Thus, the Fire played to a 2-2 tie against Toronto.

While Chicago’s playmaker Cuauhtémoc Blanco was sidelined with a strained hamstring, TFC’s star player, DeRo (Dwayne De Rosario), made his presence felt from the get-go.  In the 6th minute, DeRo scored off a defensive blunder by C.J. Brown and Wilman Conde.

“We’re gift wrapping goals. It’s like Christmas time. If they beat us with a good goal, fair enough, but quit giving away easy goals and putting ourselves behind the eight-ball. That’s the bottom line,” said Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch after the match.

DeRo was able to pick apart the shaky Fire defense once again, this time coming in the first minute of the second half.  The Fire D failed to get back on a TFC counterattack as DeRo sent a beautiful cross in the box, scored by unmarked ex-Fire forward Chad Barrett.

Fortunately for the Fire, as bad as their defense was, Toronto’s Nick Garcia was worse.  The Fire’s first goal came on a TFC own goal in the 14th minute, when Garcia chested the ball into his own net.  Then in the 78th minute, Garcia was caught ball watching and left Brian McBride wide open for the easy header from a Justin Mapp cross, equalizing the game at 2-2.  (Garcia’s lackadaisicalness on McBride’s goal was frighteningly similar to an Eddy Curry box out). mcbride

The Fire had several scoring opportunities late in the game.  None would be as good as the one the Fire had in the last play of the game.  With the game level 2-2 in the 93rd, Fire forward Patrick Nyarko beat his defender and passed to a running teammate.  Unfortunately, that teammate was late sub, Calen Carr.  With the goalie nowhere to be found, Carr just needed a simple tap in from a foot away from goal to be the hero.  Carr hit the ball wide of the goal, leaving 16,890 Fire faithful dejected with how the game ended.

Chicago vs Toronto Highlights 9/26/09

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly against TFC

The Good

Justin Mapp:
He was tremendous.  This was the best I have seen Mapp play since the Soldier Field days.  IF Mapp can play at a similar level in the remaining games of the regular season, he can expect major minutes in the playoffs.

Brian McBride:
Back in August, team doctors thought McBride would be out for the season after having shoulder surgery.  “Superman” is back and most importantly, healthy.  I asked McBride how the shoulder felt after last week’s game against Columbus, saying the shoulder was a non-issue.  He proved that against Toronto, giving TFC fits all night.

The Bad

Injuries:

With only three games remaining in the season, now is not the time to be dealing with injuries with the playoffs coming up.  Rolfe was a late scratch but the Fire said it was just precautionary.  Ward and Woolard are still out, but players I think we can do without.  Although Banner played well at left back, a healthy Segares is a major step up.  The same goes for Thorrington.  Not only is Thorrington a good player, but also provides toughness and grit that this team is lacking without him.  With Soumare gone, Thorrington would be a huge help to Conde and C.J.  With that said, if Blanco is not ready to go come playoff time, it does not matter how the other Fire injuries play out.  Blanco is without question our best and most valuable player, and without him, there will be NO deep playoff run.

The Ugly

The D:

The Calen Carr rant and why the f#$% Hamlet put him in the game to begin with is ridiculous, but I think and pray that the Calen Carr era is over. (Carr’s miss was equivalent to a kicker missing an extra point to win the game)  Carr won’t matter in the playoffs, but the defense will, and they really need to figure their s— out.

Cubs-White Sox Exchange: Apathy Reigns!

2003cubssoxlogo2

By Paul M. Banks and David Kay

(PMB)What a difference a year makes! Last season around this time, both Chicago teams were in first place and the Crosstown Classic actually came remotely close to living up to the absurd hype that accompanies it each year. It was so important that we actually ran two exchanges for each series, and broke comment records on all of them. (Those records were subsequently broken by my piece following Soxman around at the Cell for the home series on the opening weekend of Batman: The Dark Knight. (That scheduling was intentional- not coincidental by the way)

Back to ’09 where apathetic is the word. Both teams redefine mediocrity and bad situational hitting. I’d almost still rather bask in the glow of “TSB weekend in MLB.” There are four main teams covered regularly here (Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, and Minnesota Twins) although we are starting to branch out into the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers now. And interleague weekend brought the four together. How rare and how cool was that? This midweek series however, no buzz at all.

(DK) To be completely honest, I didn’t even realize the Cubs and Sox were playing each other this week until you e-mailed me about this exchange. With the Blackhawks run to the Western Conference Finals, Bulls exciting series against the Celtics, and Bears acquisition of a real quarterback, this spring baseball season has taken an unusual back seat in the Chi. With good reason though. Neither the Cubs nor Sox have shown any sign of consistency or being a real contender in their respective divisions.

(PMB) The Cubs just fired hitting coach Gerald Perry and replaced him with Von Joshua. I think Sox hitting coach Greg Walker is possibly next. When you play in a hitters park like that and your team’s offensive numbers look ajlike Allan from “The Hangover” with his shirt off, you got to be on the hot seat.

(DK) The Cubs needed to shake things up somehow and it’s too early to give Sweet Lou the boot, so it certainly wasn’t unexpected when Perry was replaced by former Sox hitting coach, Von Joshua, who has a good history with some of the younger bats on the Cubs’ roster having coached them at I-City.

I think Walker is fairly safe. If there was ever a time to can him it was at the beginning of the month when the Pale Hoes scored three runs over a four game period, being shut-out three of those games. The veterans are hitting the ball well for the south-siders, it’s the young talent that needs to step their game up.

(PMB) Being a pitcher in softball, I like watching a good 3-2 MLB game as much as the next man, but this series’ inevitable low scores will be more about bad hitting than good pitching. Well, maybe the scores might be higher than we anticipated given how the Sox defense is to fielding what Heather Graham’s character in “The Hangover” is to chastity. That’s right two references this week to the funniest movie that I’ve seen in years.

(DK) I guess it’s safe to say that it was date night this weekend for you, huh? Heather Graham isn’t wearing roller skates in this one is she?

Maybe they should agree to adopt your underhand softball pitching style to add some firepower to this series. Both teams are in the bottom third in the majors in runs, hits, batting average, and RBI. Having CQ and A-Ram on the DL has been costly as has a major lack of clutch hitting. helmsgrahamhangover050809


(PMB) Of course Rollergirl took her clothes off in this film. Your predictions on this series? What’s the worst this series could be on the Unwatchability index? Using a 1-10 system, with 1 being seeing someone’s knee dislocate (very hard to watch), 5= Comcast Sports Net’s “Monsters in the Morning” (I’d rather be knocked unconscious) and 10 representing a Smashmouth concert. (worse torture than waterboarding)

Shall we get back to our NBA Draft work?

(DK) I’ll go against the grain on this one and predict an ‘8’ for this series. And I mean an 8 on a normal 1-10 scale, not the scale of horrific pain that you just described. The Cubs and Sox were each victorious thanks to game-winning runs in the ninth inning on Sunday and should have some momentum going into this series, which always has a different feel to it compared to any other series. I also have a feeling we could see some A.J. Pierzynski/Michael Barrett-type fireworks. Cubs take two of three.

Time to study some tape of B.J. Mullens’ footwork in the low post…

(PMB) You’re right. I’ll probably watch (and probably enjoy) all 3 games of the series. But I’d still rather be studying up on Darren Collison and Jeff Teague.