Shorthanded Fire take on Donovan, Becks on ESPN2

Beckhams

By Alex Simon

Tonight the Fire visit the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.  With the win and a D.C. loss or tie, the Fire will clinch a playoff spot for the 11th time out of 12 years.  The Fire will be without many of their regulars, most notably Cuauhtémoc Blanco.

The Galaxy received good news yesterday regarding their DP (Designated Player), David Beckham.  Beckham missed last week’s game against Columbus due to inflammation in his ankle, but is expected to start against the Fire.  The Galaxy has a chance at something they have not been able to accomplish since Beckham signed with the team in 2007. Just like the Fire, a win would clinch a spot in the playoffs for L.A. pending the result of the D.C.-Chivas match.

Prediction:

Blanco did not even make the trip to L.A.  This is the second consecutive match Blanco will miss because of his strained hamstring.  Without him, Segares, Thorrington, and possibly Rolfe, it will be tough for the Fire to create offensive opportunities.  The Galaxy had the most goals allowed in MLS last year, 62.  This year they have been scored on only half that number, 31.  A big reason for that is rookie defender Omar DonovanGonzalez.  The 6ft. 5in. Gonzalez has been superb each time I have tuned in for a Galaxy match this year.  Fire will have to worry about Beckham’s free kicks and service, but most of all Landon Donovan.  Donovan burned the Fire defense last time the two teams met.  The Fire lost that August game to the Galaxy 2 nil, and I do not expect Friday night to be much different.  Unfortunately, I favor an inspired Galaxy squad 2-0 against the banged up Fire.

Note: the only thing worse than a Fire defeat tonight, would be a Fire defeat plus Donovan getting hurt.  (Knock on (Kerry) Wood)  The U.S. visit Honduras October 10 for a crucial World Cup qualifier, and need a healthy Donovan.

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.