Oh hi! I’m Jiggly.
Welcome to my new weekly column here at MenInRed97, where I’ll be coming in with various thoughts about the Chicago Fire, soccer, and other things of that sort. We’ve been giving you guys some great logical analysis and reporting, but clearly, what everyone wants to hear is someone to get completely unhinged whenever something stupid happens (which is fairly often around here). That’s where I come in. My goal around here is to speak for the people, as well as attempt to rationalize some of the strange things that happen week in and week out. Sometimes there’ll be smaller stories, and sometimes, it’s one big story. But the important thing is that you’re gonna hear me complain about it on a Tuesday.
Keep in mind that because this is a much more opinion-based series, I’ll tell youse at the top that my opinions are my own and may not necessarily reflect the opinion of the rest of the site. Like how I think Bastian Schweinsteiger has a better shot at getting into the Ring of Fire than Cuauhtemoc Blanco. But that’s a talk for another time. For now, let’s jump into this week’s conversation:
While nothing is officially official yet, we’ve heard recently that the Fire are gearing up to bring in Lugano central midfielder Ousmane Doumbia as a Designated Player. According to GM Georg Heitz, he will only be a DP this season, but it’s uncertain whether he’ll still even be here next season (both of them, actually, but I’ll get to that). There are some conflicting reports since there’s not really much information that’s been tossed around about the details of the transfer, but he will either be signing for just the season, signing for multiple seasons with the DP tag coming off in the offseason, or he’s only here on loan until the end of the season. Those reports of a loan are coming from inside Lugano, while we’re hearing “signed” out here in Chicago, so we’ll see how that goes.
The thing to talk about is that Fire fans really went from “Lewandowski is our next DP, or we riot” to “We just got some random dude? That’s cool, I guess.” And it’s hard to really blame anyone for that reaction. Whether or not he stays here for longer, he will only be a DP for the Fire until the end of the season. This “Temporary DP” status may be a sign that Heitz isn’t being trusted to actually fill this third DP slot, and the team is instead waiting to fill the position until after leadership has changed. Maybe it feels like the club is giving up, and everyone else is just feeling that vibe, but I’d like to think that it all comes from the idea that this is just a step back right now so we can take a leap forward in the offseason.
However, I’m not big on signing someone in the position. Sure, we need midfield depth, but this doesn’t really help create depth; it creates problems when trying to figure out who will even be playing in the area. If you told me at the beginning of the season that by June, I’d be trying to defend Gastón Giménez’s starting spot, I would be worried about my mental health (which I still am, but for different reasons). But looking at this season alone, he’s actually done really well. Combine that with his price tag as a TAM player and Federico Navarro’s performances as a U22 Initiative Player, and it doesn’t make much sense to sign a DP in the same general position. Honestly, in any normal circumstances, it doesn’t make sense to sign Doumbia as a DP at all. I think that an MLS team could reasonably sign him without even breaking out the TAM, which would still be an absolute steal because he has a lot of quality about him. Just not DP quality.
This is like the combination of two of the weirdest midseason signings the Fire ever made, both in 2013. One was DP Juan Luis Anangono and the other was Egidio Arévalo Ríos. Anangono was signed as a DP in July 2013 and would go on to be an incredibly mid striker with the club. Personally, I thought he was so close to getting it going, constantly hitting the woodwork. But it wasn’t the woodwork that held him back the most; it was that DP tag on him that just made him so easily replaceable. A serviceable dude, just not a DP. Then there’s Arévalo Ríos, an Uruguayan legend who only came to Chicago because he wanted to escape a relegated Palermo team. He was here on loan in August and then signed on transfer less than a week later. He was an older defensive midfielder who was still world-class, but he joined a clogged midfield of Logan Pause, Jeff Larentowicz, Alex, and another guy who I refuse to mention but was very important that season. Neither guy lasted, with Arévalo Ríos not being offered a contract renewal at the end of the season and Anangono being loaned out to LDU Quito the next season after losing his starting spot to Quincy Amarikwa.
The point is: Why do the Fire never learn their lesson about doing weird things?
TWO ROAD WINS? THAT NEVER HAPPENS!
The biggest news of the week is the fact that the Fire just won two games in a row… On the road. The Fire have a history of being absolutely terrible on the road, having gone literal calendar years at a time without three points away from Chicago. Recently it’s been getting a bit better, with our home and away records looking pretty similar. Last season, the Fire were able to pull off two wins in a row on the road, but there was a draw at home against Atlanta United in between, so it doesn’t really count. If you want to find the last time the Fire won two games on the road, back-to-back, on the same road trip, then you need to go all the way back… to the previous paragraph.
That’s right, the last time the Fire won back-to-back road games was in October of 2013. The first was a 3-0 dismantling of DC United, righteous fury after losing to them in the U.S. Open Cup, and the second was a game in which the Fire almost fumbled a 3-0 lead after the 60th minute. However, Kenny Cooper was held to just two goals that time, and that’s enough to keep it a 3-2 win. Anangono even scored the opener. And Arévalo Ríos started in the first game. Always remember that strange things like to happen together, and history likes to rhyme. Or our brains are just wired to try to make sense of an irrational universe by finding patterns in whatever way we can.
What I see as a problem here is that there are some people who are really excited about these two wins as a statement that the Fire are “back.” I don’t really see that because it feels a bit ignorant of what actually happened in the two games. Herbers had a fantastic time scoring two goals in a week, but they were both the same incredibly opportunistic bunglings. Stick taps for being in the right position both times, but there’s not much he needed to do at that point after the ball’s bounced around the whole box. Not to mention the fact that the Portland Timbers have struggled massively recently, and Sporting Kansas City didn’t really seem to come out with that much energy (maybe because it was 90+ degrees the whole game). Even when the Fire dominated Sporks in all of the “little things” in that game, it took a real oopsie of a goal to get that dub. There’s just not enough evidence right now that the Fire are really up for any sort of real challenge. I’ll let Tim take on previewing the next game against Orlando, but I’ll just say that the way Orlando has played recently, I’m not sure if they’ll be much of a challenge either. Maybe that’s a good thing, as three points are still three points, but it’s gonna take more than just taking advantage of teams on off-nights if this team wants to be successful. They need to prove themselves soon, and this may be the time to do it.
But, you know what they say: Two’s a streak. Three’s a trend.
RED STARS LOST AGAIN. The Chicago Red Stars have had a rough go. They’re getting better, getting more shots off and showing more fight. Just need more pucks on net.
BOB BRADLEY OUT IN TORONTO. Before any of you say anything: No. I don’t think he should come back to Chicago. I might say more some other time, but for now just let him remain a legend.
I WATCHED KILL BOKSOON. Really liked it. It was like Atomic Blonde, one of my favorite action films, but less moody and more personal. You could tell they had fun making the fight scenes. 9/10.
I love you.
And I’ll see you next week.