Fire fall to Minnesota, drop to 0-2

With both teams missing several key players, the Fire couldn't get past Minnesota United FC for the second consecutive season. They are now 0-2 against the 2017 expansion club. Bastian Schweinsteiger missed the match due to the impending arrival of his first child and Matt Polster sat out with a knee injury. Minnesota was without starters Kevin Molino, Abu Danladi, and Sam Cronin.

With Polster out, coach Veljko Paunovic made some changes along the backline. Christian Dean, who appeared on the weekly injury list before the match was benched in favor of Kevin Ellis. The former Sporting Kansas City homegrown player started at centerback with Brandon Vincent on the left. Paunovic said that Polster was injured in the last training session of the week on Friday.

The defensive effort and overall play was somewhat more coherent than that of the frenetic 4-3 opening loss to SKC but still wasn't good enough to best one of the Western Conference's lowest rated clubs. All three goals in the game were scored in the second half.

"It was a tough second half for us," said Paunovic following the match. "We conceded two goals after a very good first half I think. I think defensively we were very solid and did a good job creating opportunities and moments in the game where we could score. We conceded two goals too easily and that's something that we have to improve and keep working on that and turn to the next game."

Minnesota's Ibson gave the home team the lead in the 55th with a rebound score following a Richard Sanchez save. Rookie Elliot Collier scored the Fire's only goal in the 59th when he one-timed a rebound of a Nemanja Nikolic attempt into the Minnesota net. The game winner came in the 55th off a Sam Nicholson open header in the box.

The Fire now sit at 0-2 ahead of an off week thanks to the international break before facing the Portland Timbers in an important early home game on March 24.

Fire line-up

GK Sanchez

DEF Ramos (Conner 84'), Kappelhof, Vincent, Ellis

MID McCarty, Tchani

MID Katai (Johnson 73), Collier, Solignac (Gordon 80')

FWD Nikolic

Filed under: 2018 regular season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • Ellis played at CB, vincent was on the left. Ellis made ibarra look like shawn bradley btw, seemed way too small to be in the middle

  • In reply to AJties:

    you are correct

  • There is so much wrong with that lineup. It would be an unacceptable lineup in June with no international break and we had to lose players because of it. Vincent is an average left back in MLS. Having to move him over to CB is an absolute joke. Solignac is Calen Carr 2.0. Would anyone put Calen Carr at attacking mid when he was playing? Absolutely not. This is the second week of the season and 2 starters can't play so we shuffle up almost the entire lineup. Literally half of the outfield players are not the same from last week. 6/11 players are playing in the same position they were playing for the first game of the season. This team is so far from being good it's sad. Minnesota is hot garbage and it should have been worse than 2-1 yesterday. We need a creative wide player to stretch defenses, attacking mid, CB, GK as starters. We need many solid role players to come of the bench and be able to make things happen. Has there been any change in the way this team plays from the end of last season. They are predictable and have absolutely zero plan B when things aren't working.

    At the start of this three year plan, were they thinking Alan Gordon was going to be a part of it? At least his signing will have the Fire have a presence in social media now. #Paunoout

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    They only signed Alan Gordon because Karl Heinz Granitza was unavailable.

  • Totally agree with above thread. This has nothing to do with Polster or Basti out. Nothing....and everything to do with a team buying into a vision. Wrong lineup, wrong battle plan, wrong sub tactics. Matt Lampson who was run out of town last season by Pauno gets the last laugh.

  • If a soccer club falls in Minnesota and no one sees it (on television), did it really happen?
    NR recently interviewed and asked about being the ONLY team whose games are not televised, his response was lets see where those other teams are in 3 years. Yes, lets see, proabaly they will be in better financial shape while continually growing their fan base. Lets see where the Fire will be too, probably relocated to another city. They cant attract a stadium sponsor and now no television deal either = CF is a toxic investment.. Can we please put the adults back in charge of our club.

  • In reply to Fireman1:

    Unless NR is suggesting that in 3 years other teams will have dropped their local television in favor of a streaming App, his response is a total non sequitur.
    It's also insulting fan's intelligence, as if a paid app and zero local TV is a coup and signifies the Fire's forward thinking over all other MLS teams. Ridiculous.

  • I am thoroughly disappointed with the Fire's performances so far. I do think though that there is a lot of talent on this roster. The depth of the roster is a huge problem. That rests with NR and maybe ownership. I think the league needs to mandate minimum signed roster numbers to start a season. The biggest problem that the Fire have is the team's inability to attract young, talented players to play here. Why? Could it be that the team's training facilities are awful. How about the fact that they play before a half empty stadium? Putting the Fire on ESPN- (I cannot give it a + as it doesn't even exist) is a joke. NR is needs to learn he is not the smartest guy in the room. He comes across as such a punk. The best sports management groups learn to connect with fans and understand what drives the fans to come see the team play. NR just sounds so insincere when he speaks.

    I will keep watching/attending games because I love watching soccer and supporting our local team. If the Chicago USL team truly develops and that beautiful stadium along the river is actually built, it will be a tough sell to keep supporting the Fire in its current state. I used to say, "Fire 'till I die." Maybe I should revise that to "Fire 'till Sterling Bay FC is up and running."

  • Fire announcement that Polster is out for 5-6 weeks with a right MCL sprain significantly tightens the thumbscrews on Nelson Rodriguez's defensive constipation. Will he have the guts to give us relief?!?

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I don't Polster should have played against KC. he didn't look fully recovered from the injury sustained in training camp. If they played him against KC knowing he could likely reinjure himself, then I really think this more serious injury is on the coaching staff.

  • Sorry GR, cant get over the TV issue. If you have a chance to speak with NR, can you politely ask:
    Is this ESPN+ experiment something that all other MLS clubs declined and decided to stay with their traditional broadcasts? Are we the test balloon? If 22 other teams decided against it, why did you go with it?

    The fact is that the only in depth coverage of this club is found here and on a few other blogs. Zero in traditional media. Now they have further removed themselves by doing this.(Nothing says enjoying a live match like watching it on a small screened device!)

    From the start in 98, through the good and the bad, for all the questionable decisions both on and off the field, for the last decade of futility, I have remained a Fire fan, but #iamnotstreaming. Ill just watch all the other MLS games in traditional broadcast

  • In reply to Fireman1:

    If someone had to rate the best way to spread news about the Fire and to expand interest in the club and the league, having the Fire's games broadcast over a streaming service that does not yet exist is probably the lowest rate medium. That being said there is an argument that cable as we know it is not going to survive. ESPN and other cable only broadcasters are no longer capable of relying on fees earned from cable systems distributing their content. Which means that eventually other delivery systems will be dominent and cable will slowly die. Internet delivered media which can be watch on traditional television sets through a Roku and AppleTV device is growing like crazy. The question is why does the Fire think it is an entity that can lead the charge in this cosmic viewing shift? If I'm being generous, I don't think NR or other Fire management think they are leading the charge. I think they realize the cost of paying Comcast to broadcast Fire games is too expensive so they decided to save those dollars by broadcasting over ESPN+ where they can argue that they are cutting edge when in fact they are just cheap.

    Here are my priorities for the next owner of the team (because this owner is just not going to make the hard money decisions that bring long term success):

    1. Build a new, top tier training facility. Call the clubhouse the "Fire House" with first class training, locker rooms etc. Have all of the Chicago area fire academy and juniors train there. There should be space for parents/families to gather while their children practice. If they did this really well, the academeny kids would go to school together nearby. This is a major investment in the $50 - $70 million range.

    2. Negotiate a new lease with Bridgeview so that the Fire can exit earlier and build a new stadium in the city. It shouldn't take a "Pub to Pitch" bus system to get fans to the game but rather easy public transportation. The new lease will cost the Fire at least another $50 million.

    3. Recruit scouts and technical staff that can develop leads on young overseas talent who are willing to move to MLS. Don't get me wrong, Basti is wonderful to watch play, but he cannot deliver the speed and energy needed to break down MLS defenses. Niko is a great player, but they need even younger players. Players that will eventually leave for Europe but will leave a legacy behind of success that will attract more players to come. Think Ajax.

    4. Stop signing MLS retreads: yes that is what you are Alan Gordon. You were great. Its time to start your coaching career.

    5. Form a group of owners who think that Don Garber has grown beyond his usefulness. When the commissioner of the league tries to take over US Soccer and then bails when his master plan is not working to support a US Soccer insider, a new face for the league is needed.

    6. Create a USL Fire 2 side. Just get on with it. It is going to be needed to compete. Maybe they won't be very good, but when you have the new training facility, you won't be lacking for space. The talent will be attracted to the opportunities.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    In reply to #2 because I kind of sick of hearing how a downtown stadium will solve the attendance issues. I posted this story on twitter so here it goes, back in 2004 I attended a Blackhawks game on a late Sunday morning(puck drop at 11:30AM). You figure that the UC is downtown and people should be there right? That a downtown stadium will bring people out right? At that particular game the announced crowd was about 3000 people(maybe 2000 were actually there). Flash forward 6 years later and there are 22K+ game in and game out. What changed? It was the the fact that Rocky invested in a product that people wanted to see and it was something that his father was not willing to do. He invested in creating a winning team that has won consistently up until this year. Casual sports fans want to see winners end of story. There are the die hards that will go no matter what but the simple fact is is that the casual fan will not go to a soccer game just because it is downtown. You need to give that fan a reason to go besides the stadium location. I honestly don't think Bridgeview is the problem. If Andy would invest in the team and put a product on the field that people want to see Bridgeview would be packed. Like GR has said, winning can solve problems. Its the winning consistently that would bring people out.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Well said both of you. There is no denial that cable/sat are losing residential viewers, but they are doing just fine in the non residential market (think hotels/bars/restaurants/ gyms anywhere with multiple TVs). Those potential viewers and the rest of us old fogeys just want to turn on the TV to watch are now gone. This deal was done as exactly stated, because it was CHEAP. Sources state it was a 7 figure deal, well I am curious if the first of those 7 figures is closer to 1 or closer to 9, that's quite a difference.

    The reason for poor attendance is the last decade of poor soccer, period.

    When the Cubs brought in new ownership, they got rid of the Lovable Loser attitude and got serious about spending/investing in winning.
    When Dollar Bill Wirtz left this Earth, his son brought in the right people to spend and build a winning franchise with massive fan outreach (putting games back on TV, former Hawk player Ambassadors)

    AH and NR are running things as cheap as possible, instead of taking a page from the above mentioned successes they took a page from The Charelston Chiefs They are not addressing the real problem (poor soccer). The only thing that is going to save us is new ownership that is serious about spending to win.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    I don't disagree with anything you said. If the Fire are winning TP is full. I would just rather go to a stadium that is full (because the team is winning) in the city because at 9:30 on a saturday night after the game I would rather walk into a fun neighborhood with cheering Fire fans than walk across a crumbling parking lot and wait for idiotic traffic control cops to let me drive home. Bridgeview is not the problem for the Fire's lack of success. Bridgeview is a problem for sustaining interest when the team is great but isn't really bad either. Bottem line, I want a stadium in the city because I am totally sefish because it will cut my travel time in half and it would be more fun.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Krasov:

    Agree with a lot of this. It’s just sad that this is the time of year to be optimistic, but instead us die hard fans are dreading the year ahead and consistently disappointed by the decisions being made that all seem to prioritize saving money over creating a better experience for fans. The thing that is most concerning to me is that i’m really not mad about it anymore, i’m starting to just not care.

  • In reply to Chris Page:

    Same here, I've been at that point where apathy is setting in. They claim to be a world class club and I just don't see it. From the owner to president/GM I just don't see how this team can be considered world class.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    No one ever said that watching a 5th-7th place team would be pretty.

    Agree, though. I feel like the arms race to invest in clubs (training facilities, USL pipeline team, an ever-upgrading roster) is something that is not happening in Chicago. We might get that "just right" signing that NR always keeps in his back pocket, but if we don't...then what?

    That said, a few wins (with no losses) would certainly help morale right about now.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    add-on point:
    No, a club does not need a USL team and top-notch training facility to guarantee success on the pitch, but at some point, just like a soccer-specific stadium (unless your owner's last name is Kraft,) all the clubs will eventually have to invest in or be left behind.

    Our question is who is going to do this, ad when is it going to happen?

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Besides the money, isn't club infrastructure one thing that players look at when making a decision to sign with a club? Imagine playing soccer is your day job would you rather go some place that has built a world class training facility with all of the state of the art stuff or a club that does just enough to get by? Would you rather play for a club that hires all of their own in house staff (training, medical, etc.) or a club that contracts it out? I do believe investment in a world class training facility is a must.

  • As annoying as the Fire's loss is their latest promotion that offers 15% off on Fire merchandise. Fire jerseys are feature prominently in the advertisement but when a consumer tries to buy one, the 15% is not applicable. It appears the Fire front office enrolled in the Rocky Wurtz class, "How to piss off your fans." I guess the halftime walkout has been forgotten by management.

  • Click the "news" tab on MLSSoccer.com and select Chicago Fire. What's the latest Fire news? Latest news, a week ago, Andrew Wiebe wrote a column about why the FIre and a couple of other teams should be worried already. Two days before that, the news story about Polster being out for 5-6 weeks with his knee issue. Two days before that, the reports on the loss to the Loons, Schweinsteiger missing the Minnesota trip, and the "exciting" signing of Alan Gordon. No news is good news, so I'm going to stop looking. I'm sick of seeing bad news.

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