Empire State of Mind for Theirry Henry

Henry & Nash

By Alex Simon

The Thierry Henry to MLS rumor resurfaced over the weekend. According to the Daily Mail, Henry will look for a new challenge after the World Cup with the 32-year old excited at the prospect of playing football in one of the world’s biggest cities in New York.

For some time now, Henry has stated he would eventually like to play in the states. However, this report is the first to put a timeline on when Henry would come to Major League Soccer. Henry has stated numerous times that he loves New York and would not be willing to play for any other MLS club but the Red Bulls. Given this and the many subsequent reports, the Thierry Henry Watch is now in full effect.Red Bull?

There has only been one other player close to Henry’s worldwide popularity to play in MLS, David Beckham. There has been much debate whether Beckham coming to America has been a success. While Beckham has sold out jerseys and stadiums, the Galaxy have not been competitive until this year. I believe it is still too early to decide if Beckham’s influence was a positive one for MLS and soccer in America.

Beckham may be a heartthrob and a fashion mogul, but Henry has something to offer that Beckham can never, scoring goals. The few well-informed soccer fans in the U.S. understand that you do not have to score a goal to have a good game. However, this would be a non-issue regarding the Frenchman. Henry is a forward, and scoring goals is what he does best. If Juan Pablo Angel can put up impressive numbers in MLS, there is no telling the damage Henry could do to opposing defenders. My guess is to expect video game-like numbers if Henry were to come play here.

We learned that one guy can’t change the way Americans look at soccer, but Henry’s goal scoring would bring more awareness to the game than Beckham’s occasional free kick strike. Whether you like soccer or not, most people are fans of scoring. SportsCenter is not going to put a nice Beckham cross in their highlight-reel, but Henry putting one in the back of the net, now that is something to work with.

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.

Ref helps Schelotto, Columbus Crew put out Chicago Fire

2003_supporters_shieldcolumbusccrest1

By Alex Simon

With a two goal cushion at halftime, I should have been feeling pretty confident about the Fire’s chances of holding on for the win.  However, my pessimistic attitude was indeed deemed right, as I watched the home side settle for a 2-2 tie against their division rival Columbus Crew. (Six years of Rex Grossman + Wrigleyville resident of 21 years = pessimism)

The Fire got an unexpected boost from rookie Peter Lowry, who notched two first half goals.  Lowry’s first goal started with a nice give and go between Brandon Prideaux and Cuauhtemoc Blanco on the right flank, ending with Lowry finishing a one touch layoff from Brian McBride in the 6th minute.

Columbus was without reigning MLS Defensive Player of the Year Chad Marshall due to injury, and it clearly showed in the 35th minute.  A mishap between Columbus’s two central backs led to a loose ball in the box that was put away by a brilliant strike from Peter Lowry, his (and the Fire’s) second to go up 2-0 heading into the midway point.peterlowry

The second half played out nothing like the first half for the Fire.  The Crew got on the board in the 54th minute from a Guillermo Barros Schelotto header, cutting the Fire’s lead in half.  In the 63rd minute, Blanco, was replaced by the woeful Justin Mapp because of a pulled hammy.

Just when it looked like the Fire might hang on for the three points, more bad luck came the Fire’s way.  Columbus was awarded a penalty kick in the 79th minute for a foul committed by Wilman Conde that appeared to be a 50/50 ball in the box.  The Crew benefited from the blown call as Schelotto scored on the penalty kick, thus ending the game in a 2-2 draw.

During a quick interview with Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch after the game, I asked him what he though of the call that gave Columbus the ever so important penalty kick after the game. “I’m positive that when they review the tapes, they will realize they got it wrong.” Busch continued, “I thought we played well enough to get the win. It’s a shame it had to play out like that given it was such a big one for us.”

The Fire not being able to sustain their first half lead was detrimental to both their regular season and postseason hopes.  If the Fire were able to win, they would have been tied with the visiting Columbus Crew, as well as the Houston Dynamo for the Supporters Shield trophy. (The trophy is awarded to the team with the most points in the regular season.)  With Shield hopes all but gone given there are only four games remaining during the regular season, the Fire must now focus on getting ready for the playoffs.  And a playoff run to the MLS Cup will be much more difficult now.  If the Fire do get past round one of the playoffs, they will most likely have to knock off the Crew in Columbus.  Fire fans remember how last year ended- the Crew knocking out the Fire in Columbus, in a game where the winner went on to play in the championship.

Burning for a Chicago Fire Match

By Paul M. Banks

Until Chicago’s Blackhawks and Bulls get their respective seasons going again, there’s a void right now for local fans yearning to see some live professional action.

As usual, the Cubs are way out of playoff contention and their ticket prices remain ridiculously high. The Sox, with just slightly more reasonable entrance fees, are eliminated too.

(Don’t let those AL Central standings fool you, that division features 5 teams which could honestly struggle to win a AAA league. Even if the Sox actually learn how to field the ball, and “win” their division, the AL East Champions would crush them into a million little pieces come the playoffs anyway.) Yes, we all love our Bears and their flashy new QB, but you pretty much have to be a Federal bailout recipient to afford a halfway decent seat at one of their games.

Explore the Chicago Fire, out fair city’s MLS offering and your problem is solved. Start by reading the “Newbie’s Guide to the 2009 Chicago Fire,” and you’ll learn everything you need to know. The blog’s author is to soccer knowledge what the Fox network is to trashy reality television. As the guide states:

“Midfield seats are $50- compare that to $350 (face value) for 50-yard line seats for Bears- and if you take advantage of section8chicago.com’s $15 ticket deals, you can go to a whole summer’s worth of Fire games for less than the cost of a single bleacher ticket to Wrigley. Yes, a Cubs bleacher ticket gives you a front row view to the Unintentional Comedy Extravaganza {and psychiatric disorder case study, I might add} that is Milton Bradley…”

…but instead of finishing his thoughts I’ll switch to a lighter topic. Section 8 is one of the biggest parties you’ll find. They hit the pubs before the game (match) together and commute on the same bus to beautiful Toyota Park and back. Once there, they wave enormous flags, sing, chant, stand, cheer and make merry better than the rowdiest of college basketball student sections. It’s like what you see in Europe- minus the hooliganism, broken bottles over the head, and rioting.
Seriously, this summer (or whatever you call it, calendar says summer even though the thermometer says October) you should see that Fire games rock, and right now the Toyota Park experience is more fun than watching two overpaid, underachieving baseball teams meaninglessly play out the string. There’s tailgating, bean bags, totally boss Mexican food and their coach Denis Hamlett even says fun things like “we pissed points away” (at least he did on this night, a 1-0 loss to hated rival D.C. United) at their post game press conferences. Oh, and did I mention that the Fire are within striking distance of the best record in their league? They do this thing called winning games too. For tickets, click here