By Amanda Beemer
Ninety excruciating minutes. Ninety minutes of ridiculous dives, bad calls, handballs, slow restarts, incomplete set pieces, inconsequential corners, and one completely undeserved penalty kick – all of which served to interrupt the Fire’s momentum and keep them from making any real headway against MLS Cup Champions Real Salt Lake. Although RSL recently dominated the New England Revolution (5-0), last night they looked like a bunch of wussbag tattletales that would rather take spills and ref the game themselves than play actual football. Real’s style of play was an insult; the fact that we could not overcome it is an even bigger one.
Although this is usually the part where I berate Dykstra for horrific goal-tending, regarding this one match he actually did alright. Then again, RSL didn’t make him work too hard; after getting their single point from the penalty kick they seemed content to win by simply shutting down the opposition for the remainder of the game. Conversely, our boys worked hard in spite of the obstinate conditions (See RSL keeper Nick Rimando’s fabulously lackadaisical goal kick somewhere around the 87’). For instance Mapp, who came in with fresh legs at the half, made some good runs and his passing was uncharacteristically accurate.
However, possession was given away with frightful frequency, set pieces were useless presumably due to a lack of communication, and shots on goal lacked key elements (accuracy, power, general prudence). Although there were a number of lineup changes resulting in a very young-looking side, the usual suspects that did remain on the pitch continued to make the same old tired mistakes, and for the millionth time no one could seem to get the ball to the striker, whether Dimitrov in the first half, or McBride in the second.
The Fire’s play, the fact that it consistently falls short, is disheartening. Perhaps even more so is the twisted discretion of the referee, who felt it appropriate to give a penalty kick to a RSL mid who clearly tripped himself inside the penalty box, resulting in RSL’s 1-nil lead and the death knell for the Fire. Although Head Coach Carlos de los Cobos was too classy to speak about it in the post-game press conference, he, God, and everyone in the stadium knew that call was bogus. Over the past few weeks I’ve worked up this World Cup conspiracy theory where referees are purposely mucking up obvious calls in attempt to convince the world of the “necessity” of instant replay…I’m beginning to suspect MLS refs are in on it too.
Amanda is a long-time Chicago resident and 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