By Amanda Beemer
As usual, I got to the bar late on Saturday, causing me to miss the first few minutes of the Fire match against D.C. United. Since I also missed that cheat sheet graphic that shows who is playing where, I made my own list of who was on the pitch. In so doing, I counted five Fire midfielders and only one forward. Wait, what? Five? I didn’t even know they could do that…
As it turns out they can, and Fire Head Coach Carlos de los Cobos did, and it was a spectacular idea, which resulted in a 2-0 victory over D.C., aka our first win and their fourth loss.
Photo from fOTOGLIF
I was initially concerned about this formation, mostly because it was conspicuously lacking forward Brian McBride. I was afraid he might have been injured, all the way up until the 76th minute when de los Cobos finally substituted him in for Collins John. The decision to hold back McBride until then resulted in the boon the Fire desperately needed; the match had been scoreless throughout the first half despite plenty of shots on goal, but only three minutes after coming in McBride and his fresh legs assisted a goal made by Pappa. Ten minutes later, McBride scored.
As surprising as McBride’s initial absence was midfielder Justin Mapp’s presence, who hasn’t started a match since last October. Somewhat ironically, whereas Mapp tends to look tired and sluggish whenever he comes on as a substitution, as a starter he was alert and dynamic. De los Cobos may be on to something.
Honorable mentions are also deserved by midfielder Marco Pappa and Patrick Nyarko, two players who are consistently proving their worth. Pappa now has two goals in four matches, and Nyarko has established himself as a dangerous left winger.
Despite all this, it is clear that players still need to work on their finishing skills, as evidenced by the ball Pappa shot way over the net again in the 53rd minute, and Collins John’s bomb, which just might have been unstoppable had it been anywhere close to the near post.
Granted, D.C. United is shaping up to be a terrible club this season, and a win against them was more inevitable than miraculous. However, sometimes all the Fire needs to get up their momentum is three points, no matter who they get them from.
Amanda is a long-time Chicago resident and an avid Chicago Fire fan, and has been following MLS for the better part of a decade. Although she makes an awesome spectator, she is a god-awful player. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org