Words can’t describe how geeked I was about Wednesday’s victory. Not because it inches us closer to the playoffs. Not because it was against the New England Revolution. But rather, because the Chicago Fire finally got three points in a match at home, something that hasn’t happened in over two months.
The inability to win at home, which is something I’ve talked about for weeks now, is among the most frustrating things with this Fire team. This issue has plagued the the club for two seasons now, and it’s imperative to start picking up points at home because the team can’t afford not to if they want to make it to the postseason again.
With the preface that Chicago dominated possession for the majority of the match, which I’ll get to in a second, Sean Johnson had another impressive day in goal. He gave up his third goal in three starts, but this one was first not scored from the penalty spot. Even Wednesday’s score wasn’t really his fault. Wilman Conde, who I trust to be awesome more often than not, slipped on the field after missing a touch. Marko Perovic pounced on the opportunity, maneuvered it just inches around a challenging Johnson for the score.
Overall, he had a relatively solid night. He came off his line when he needed to and made a some big saves to keep Chicago in it. His move to the net continues to look better and better each week.
Also something to look forward to is the budding partnership of Freddie Ljungberg and Marco Pappa in the midfield. Ljungberg had a man of the match-worthy performance from start to finish, and the creativity supplied by him and Pappa led to great stretches of possession, even if the link-ups in the attacking third were a bit lacking.
Ljungberg looks like a completely different player than he was in the first half of the season with Seattle. He looks inspired and willing to make all the plays necessary to win, something I don’t think you can say with any sort of confidence about his play with the Sounders this year.
I was also encouraged by the return of Calen Carr to the field after sitting out 10 months with an injury. He brings a bit more speed to the forward rotation of McBride and Collins John (when healthy). While it’s certainly a good thing to have that option off the bench, I’m not sure how much of an impact he’ll make down the stretch this season.
Speaking of John though, he’s out injured again, along with Patrick Nyarko. It’s a bit unnerving to see John play as well as he has in a Chicago uniform just a few weeks ago in Los Angeles only to sit out two straight matches.
You can say the same for Nyarko as well, except we know how good Nyarko can play whereas John is a bit of an enigma. Nyarko’s ongoing concussion problems have me worried about the future this season. That said, I think the Fire can be much better with him on the field, but I don’t think it hurts the Fire’s chances to make the playoffs too terribly much. However, with him on the field, it presents some enormous creation potential that would prove hard to defend. Before acquiring the extra midfield talent, I was extremely worried about him getting back as soon as possible. Now, it’s more of a luxury question, I’m just excited to see him back whenever that may be.
The offensive depth on this team is very encouraging to me going forward.