The Fire are officially back, opening up their MLS Campaign last Saturday with an absolute thriller of a match ending in a 2-2 tie. While it may have been considered a bad result for the favorites at home, a point away against a really tough opponent is a positive way to start the season. Fans must also factor in that so much of Chicago’s roster still needs time to gel into the team and the league’s style of play in general, so definitely wasn’t a bad result to come out with a well earned point.

It wasn’t all great though, we still saw some flashes of the “Good Old Fire”, most importantly continuing the trend of getting scored on late in the game to give up three points. As a Fire fan, you could look at the game as either two points dropped, or one point gained, so let’s dive into the good and bad so you can decide for yourself if the tie was really a good result, or rather a missed opportunity.

The Good: 

Brian Gutierrez Shines – Brian was undoubtedly the MVP for the Fire, smashing in an absolute rocket of a shot to put the Fire up 1-0, and giving Herbers the assist for the second goal. Brian continuing to develop into a star is crucial for the Fire’s success, and this first game was a step in the right direction for him.

Allan Arigoni’s Debut – The Swiss fullback looked promising in his MLS debut, and his style of play seems to be a good fit for the MLS. We’ve seen quality players from other leagues come here and fail to adapt well often, but this seems to not be the case for Arigoni, who’s speed was on full display at Subaru Park.

Kellyn Acosta’s Debut – Although we weren’t able to see too much of him, he made an instant impact when he was on the field. The impact went both ways, both defensively and going forward. He completed all but one of his passes (10/11) and showed a good preview of what we can expect to see every game for 90 minutes.

This is only the start, the Fire will get better: As previously mentioned, so much of the team still needs to mesh together and figure things out, especially for the newcomers foreign to the league. As we’re able to get Cuypers comfortable and Acosta being fit into the starting eleven, consistent progress will be seen. I like to think that the team the Fire will be in a month or two would have taken all three points against Philadelphia.

The Bad:

Andrew Gutman’s Injury – Undoubtedly the biggest worry to come from that game is the potential severity of Gutman’s injury. Coming off a promising preseason, it’s the expectation that Gutman would provide a clear upgrade at the LB position, so when he suffered a serious looking non-contact injury mere minutes into the game, it left many wondering how long the Fire will have to make do without him. The medical team seemed to be working on his hamstring when they attended to him, so we’ll see what that turns into.

Unable To Service Cuypers – Cuypers debut wasn’t anything crazy to say the least, but that’s not exactly all his fault. Perhaps it’s because the team still needs to figure out how to work with him, but in Philadelphia, Cuypers was only able to get a singular touch in the 18 yard box and just in general wasn’t given much opportunity to do his thing – scoring goals. I hope this is just a temporary problem, because the season’s success will be likely decided by if we can improve on striker play compared to last season

Still Unable To Keep A Lead – I’m not sure what it is with this team, maybe it’s a curse of some sort, but the Fire have got to end the recurring problem of giving up points in the last minutes. It happened too many times to count last season and it kept them out the playoffs. It’s a mental/strategy problem that needs to be fixed because I don’t think I can handle conceding many more goals after the 90th minute.

Striker Depth Still A Problem – Although we finally got our long-awaited DP9 in Cuypers, seeing Tom Barlow miss a 1 on 1 situation in the last minutes reminded me that we still lack good striker depth. Unless Koutsias can take a big stride in his development, it seems like we will be limited to a one striker system, which might stop us from finding more success with a good two striker system.

 

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