Fire flop in USOC Semifinal.....again

Let the 2017 preseason begin.

For the fourth consecutive year the Fire came agonizingly close to returning to the US Open Cup Final and for the fourth straight time they bowed out with a whimper.

The build up to this match was centered around the realization that this game could salvage the season but the Fire never really threatened from the start. New England controlled the ball and pushed the Fire around as if this were any other away game. The same issues that plague them during regular season play reared themselves again in this match. Midfield is consistently overmatched and the attackers seldom get enough help to be effective while every error on defense turns disastrous.

Rodrigo Ramos was whistled for a foul on Kelyn Rowe in the penalty area in the 16th minute. Kei Kamara buried the spot kick to give New England the early lead that Chicago desperately tried to avoid with a conservative approach to start the game. David Accam, who seemed to be the one player on the Chicago side who didn't want to lose, leveled the match in the 40th after a brilliant bit of work in the box to maneuver around New England defenders in tight quarters earned him his 5th goal in this year's tournament.

In a microcosm of the last seven years of frustration, the Fire wasted no time in deflating themselves and supporters. Less than two minutes after Accam's score, a woefully defended corner kick was deflected to the front of the net where a flat footed and fumbling display by Matt Lampson, Michael Harrington, and others allowed Je-Vaughn Watson to tap-in a game winner.

The decision to start Lampson in every Cup game, including this one, coupled with Harrington on the field again and Matt Polster not on it, are questions that Veljko Paunovic should surely second guess for days to come. The Fire were slightly better in the second half but still never really seriously challenged the New England goal. Teal Bunbury beat Lampson with what looked to be a stoppable shot from an odd angle in the 86th minute and that essentially spelled the end of Chicago's season.

Accam capped the night with a Blanco-esque USOC moment, being shown a red card for taking a run at Rowe out of frustration in the 89th.

With two-and-a-half months to play in the regular season, the Fire will likely hang around the bottom of the Eastern Conference to remain within reach of fool's gold in the form a sixth place finish. The lack of quality in the East may say that they're mathematically still in it, but make no mistake, the reality of their situation says that the last 13 games are nothing more than auditions for spots on the 2017 roster.

The Fire are meekly exiting from a US Open Cup Semifinal for a fourth straight season, missing the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons and continuing their slide toward irrelevance with every passing day. Apathy among supporters has long since started to creep in and management must know that the clock is ticking.

There are interesting times ahead for all the wrong reasons.



Lampson; Ramos (Vincent 46'), Kappelhof, Campbell, Harrington; Cocis, Thiam (Polster 66'); Alvarez, Goossens, Accam; de Leeuw

Subs not used: Johnson, Gehrig, Stephens, LaBrocca, Calistri

Total shots: New England 16, Chicago 16

Shots on target: New England 5, Chicago 5

Possession: New England 58 - Chicago 42

Passing: New England 81%, Chicago 68%

Filed under: 2016 US Open Cup

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Same as it ever was.

    Do you know when Nelson and Co have to make a decision on Ramos and Thiam? Any thoughts on how the brain trust feels about their place in glorious process?

    As always, thanks for the great coverage of the Fire.

  • In reply to seamuslush:

    Both Ramos and Thiam have option to buy contracts at the end of this season.

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    In reply to seamuslush:

    I really hope they hang onto Ramos, he is inconsistent and has made some dumb mistakes but he is very young and his upside is enormous. He just shouldnt be their outright first choice RB at the moment (and they should have some one of more quality than Harrington to compete for the spot...just like about every other position). On the other hand, I think Thiam has had one very solid game, and the rest below average. If they want to keep him around as depth with the hope that he settles in and improves (again pretty young and new to the league) thats fine, but he should not be considered even close to a starter at the moment.

  • Well that was fun. Any idea when Fernandez sees the field?

  • What a bad joke. We're taking the USOC seriously my ass. NR and VP are a pinky ring and and pair of white loafers short of being used car salesmen! Its hard to think of either of them as good in their positions when they put out a lineup like this in the USOC semi-final. Trading Shipp, passing on Bedoya, what are these clowns thinking.The starting lineup wasn't the best XI, Lampson, Harrington, are you kidding me! What team was Cocis playing for?

  • In reply to kaca:

    100% agree. I don't care if Polster was a little sore. he showed no signs of problems. He should have started. Lampson needs to see the bench if not the door. I cannot count the number of goals he should have stopped. The second goal was an embarrassment that would earn most players a ride out of town. Please MLS give us a new owner!!!! Get rid of this team. I am sick to my stomach thinking about how awful these guys are. They cannot pass the ball. No one shows for a pass except Polster. De Leeuw needed to track back to defensive mid just to get a touch. Watch film!!! Every single team presses the Fire high because they know the Fire cannot pass the ball. I think I might be done. This performance has put me over the top. NR and VP need to look in the mirror or the League needs to step in and give them the resources to compete by forcing a sale. While I hate Twellman as a former Rev, I respect his insights. No one on a national stage has articulated how far the Fire have fallen than he has. Thank you Taylor. Please keep blasting the Fire!!!

  • Well. Where to begin?

  • I'll only say how much I feel for Accam. The guy is legit talented and shows heart every time he takes the field. For the sake of his career, he needs to get out of Chicago.

    Pauno's comments are ringing hollow with me because these aren't youth internationals. These are professionals who should know better (or have been coached better by this point in the season) than to make a silly foul in the corner of the box against a player in an unthreatening position.

    Wake me up when they have new ownership and play some matches somewhere in the city.

  • Got tickets for Sunday and 3 more on my STH package that I had buyer's remorse on about 2 games into the season. After that, it will be hard to muster any enthusiasm at all for this train wreck. After the penalty, I was just hoping NE would hurry up and get the second and put me out of my misery so I could watch swimming and table tennis from Rio.

    Spurs kick off on Saturday. Much better use of my soccer-watching time.

  • Last night was a back breaker for me. I'm out for the year. We'll see what happens in the off season. I hope its good, because for the first time in my life I am considering switching allegiances away from a Chicago team. I've followed the Fire faithfully during the 15 years I've lived away from Chicago, as I have the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Hawks. I followed them from Scotland, from DC, from Brooklyn, and now from CT. This is the first season since 2000 that I have not attended a Fire match in person (though I have seen them play in Red Bull Arena as often as I have visited Toyota Park). However, I now live about half an hour from Yankee Stadium and, unless something changes, I'll be wearing sky blue this time next year. Damn you, Chicago Fire, for making me contemplate becoming a fan of a New York sports team. Damn you.

  • In reply to DDT5583:


  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:


  • In reply to DDT5583:

    Fwiw the Third Rail fans were awesome when I went to Yankee stadium last season. I traded scarves with a supporter. I don't blame you for looking to switch colors.

  • In reply to DDT5583:

    Similar thoughts as you, though I live about an hour and change from RFK.

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    GR, what are your thoughts on the chances that Accam is still in red next season with or without a miracle sale of the club? They have an option for another season right? Would they exercise it and then sell him or would they just allow him to leave? What would it take to keep him, triple his salary at least?
    I only ask because if he is gone, they would need to sign far more than one "Giovinco level DP" to be considered competitive. The roster would be down to about square one again.

  • In reply to Carl Miller:

    Accam is under contract for next year and there is an option for 2018. They have been talking to him for several months about the possibility of a long term deal. I'd say it's 50/50.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    good info, thanks!

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    I get that we're in a rebuilding phase, but it sure seems like we don't have much to build on. Blowing up the team again would be bad; holding on to what we have only slightly less so. I am really not sure at this point if the purchase options on Thiam and Ramos will be picked up; they've been inconsistent and were poor in the most important game of the season. Goalkeeping is a mess too; if Pauno doesn't like SJ, he needs to get someone better than Lampson. Accam will try everything in his power (hunger strike?) to leave, and for once I won't blame him. I hope that Arshakyan at least acclimates smoothly, now that the pressure is off. Tactically, we have what is ostensibly a 7-month preseason to figure out something that works for this group of players.

  • In reply to Dan Koev:

    If the team was blown up again, I'd become a Missourian, because I'd take on their state motto: the "show me" state, as in, Show me that you're really building a quality team, THEN I'll come back.

    No, I'm still on board for the track they're on, and hope they continue on the course they are on just for the sake of trying to see what happens when they actually give someone some time to build something (or at least seeing how next year ends.)

    FWIW, this has got to be the slowest, most painful ride I've been on. After nights like last night, I'm getting real tired of actually caring at all about the results on the field. I've reached the point where I'm considering switching over to Red Stars games to enjoy watching live soccer.

  • Ah the doom and gloom.

    But seriously, I think that if we had a midfield that was capable of holding onto the ball, we'd actually have a chance at being quite decent.

    On a different note, I thought a team could only start 5 internationals in a USOC game. I think we started 7 last night. Would we not have been disqualified?

  • In reply to Fuegofan:

    Accam and Cocis are not considered internationals since they have green cards.

  • Collin Fernandez and Alex Morrell have been loaned to Saint Louis FC.

    The Fire can recall both if needed.

  • We reached irrelevance years ago. And apathy also, apparently - there was practically no one watching at either AJ Hudson's or The Globe. I just went home after halftime.

  • Soooo deflating watching that match. Lampson is a JOKE of a keeper. It makes me nervous that Pauno won't admit to that. Does NR not have the authority/courage to tell Pauno to play SJ? Are they both that blind when it comes to how AWFUL Lampson is? I have been able to at least go through the logic behind all of the moves made by NR and Pauno except the goalie situation. To repeatedly state that Lampson is better than SJ makes 0 sense at all. I understand asking for patience but to exhibit complete incompetence (on the goalie situation specifically) while the fans are patient is unacceptable. I will be patient if the Fire continue to acquire assets, but I will NOT be patient if Pauno continues to bench players that are proven to be successful in MLS for players that continue to display how terrible they are. I would rather park an actual lamp in front of goal to play keeper than have Lampson start another match.

    One piece of hopeful news...only 47 more preseason games before the 2018 season that NR is focused on...

  • We say we are in a rebuilding phase but the club doesnt seem to do anything that is rebuilding. We are "rebuilding" but still playing Harrington over Vincent. Cocis over Fernandez. Alvarez over Callistri. I would be much more forgiving of this crap that I have to deal with if we were trying to improve. There has been zero difference between this year and the 2 under Yallop. The press conferences are the same. The lineups are the same. The way they play is the same. Literally nothing is different. We still go into important matches and play ultra defensively and still get scored on first. We cant make 5 passes in a row and we cant shoot on target. We still make really stupid mistakes defensively and have no talent offensively to make up for it. If we dont shut out a team, we dont win.

    Pauno's presser after the game was miserable. Saying many times that that is the best that they can play. If that is the best that he can get this team to play then he needs to be shown the door. We were losing yesterday and brought on Vincent and Polster. Pauno has ten games next season to turn this thing around. I already dont think he is good enough but if we are in this same position after ten games next year, he needs to go.

    This off season is going to be interesting. We will need about 17 new players if we want to be anywhere close to 6th place in the East.

    GR, do you think this club will ever have a Town Hall meeting like NYRB did after they hired Marsh? I wouldn't even need Hauptman to be there. Just someone in a suit related to the Fire that I could yell at for sucking at his job and taking my money for too many years.

  • Taylor Twellman (would love to have seen him wear the red, old enough to remember his dad in black and yellow) was spot on in his comments regarding this team and organization.
    I was one in Lampsons camp. He does some things better than Johnson,Johnson does some things better than him, but I now realize neither are very good goalkeepers. Good at times yes, but both average keepers with a below average 10 in front of them. The question is moot anyway, we have ZERO midfield possession. Just try to absorb on defense and spring a long ball which eventually is going to lose to possession over 90 mins every time no matter who is in goal. Last night was embarrassing on national TV, maybe only slightly less embarrassing than the thrashing LA would have delivered if they somehow squeaked out a win. I'm to the point now where I dont want this team to bring in a big name or star player, this train wreck organization will just blemish his career too.

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