Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Au Revoir, Baky!

It was made official today.

Chicago Fire defender, Bakary Soumare, has left the team, and the league, and joined Boulogne of the French First Division.

An altercation between Soumare and Fire Head Coach, Denis Hamlett at halftime of the game with the Dynamo in Houston was the beginning of the end for Soumare.

When I was watching the game that Sunday night, I was wondering why Hamlett had changed shirts after the intermission. In the first half, he was wearing a white, short sleeve camp shirt. As the second half started, the coach was wearing a red Fire golf shirt.

Silly me! I just thought it was hot in Houston, (which it was), and he needed to change shirts. Apparently, there had been an altercation between the two. We will never know exactly what happened in the locker room at halftime...unless one of the players, or coaches would like to enlighten us.

The team played a sloppy first half and went to the break down 2-0. They came out like a house on fire...pun intended!

The Fire scored twice early to tie the game, before eventually losing 3-2.

Soumare was then absent from the line-up the next game, with the Fire posting a 2-0 win over Kansas City.

The team released a statement that both Soumare and Hamlett were fined for an altercation, but that was pretty much all we were told. It later was reported that Soumare would not play again until he was ready to show a total commitment to the team.

Who knows how things got this far, this quick.

With Wilman Conde and Soumare in the middle of the backline, the Fire had one of the best combinations in the league. Conde has been dealing with a hamstring injury and Soumare had made a few international appearances with the Mali squad.

This past weekend, rumors started to circulate that Soumare would not play again with the Fire and he was looking at moving to a French squad.

Today, it happened. It is a shame losing such a talented, All-Star defender, but apparently, the relationship with the team could not be patched up.

The Fire are just one point behind Columbus in the Eastern Conference, and have an important game with D.C. United this Saturday at Toyota Park. The Fire will be without Gonzolo Segares, Tim Ward, and Daniel Wollard on defense, all with injuries. Dasan Robinson will miss the game after getting his second yellow card of the game Sunday celebrating the game winning goal.

Mike Banner could move to the left back position, or John Thorrington, returning after missing a game with yellow card accumulation, could play the right back spot. Brandon Prideaux will likely start along with C.J. Brown and Austin Washington.

It should be interesting.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Now That Was a GAME!!!

It didn't look like it was going to be much different than the Chicago Fire's recent home efforts. They trailed 2-0 to the Colorado Rapids on a pair of second half goals by Omar Cummings. The Fire attack was non-existent and it was beginning to look like they would be shutout for the fifth time this season, at Toyota Park.

Then...everything changed.

Denis Hamlett went to the bench and brought in some speed, in the form of Mike Banner, Justin Mapp and Patrick Nyarko. The Fire attack was immediately improved. Nyarko was pushing the issue up front, while Cuauhtemoc Blanco made things happen.

Blanco was taken down in the 18, and, with Pablo Mastroeni of the Rapids blowing sweet nothings into his ear, calmly beat Matt Pickens from the spot and the Fire were on the board.

Fourteen minutes later, the Fire were buzzing around the final third when a loose ball came out to Mike Banner. Banner was playing the left-back position due to injuries and internal problems the Fire are having on the backline. The youngster blasted one from twenty yards into the net and the score was tied at two.

There have been a lot of ties in MLS this season and it looked like the Fire had clawed their way to another.

But in added time, after a Nyarko shot was cleared off the line by the Rapids defense, Dasan Robinson got his head to a cross from Justin Mapp...put it past Pickens and the Fire had miraculously come back to gain the three point win and pull themselves withing one point of first place Columbus in the Eastern Conference.

Robinson will miss the game Saturday with D.C. United after he took off his jersey and swung it over his head while celebrating his game winner. He had received a yellow card previously in the match, after tripping the league's leading goal scorer, Conor Casey. Robinson did a tremendous job defensively on the Rapids forward all game long.

This just might be the win that propels this offense down the stretch. Just seven games remaining in the regular season.

The Fire will apparently be without Gonzolo Segares, (MCL sprain), and Tim Ward, (broken toe), for a little while longer. As for Bakary Soumare, it appears that after his altercation with Coach Hamlett at halftime of the Houston game, the Mali defender could be on his way to the French First Division.

Which is the better way to start the game with all of the questions on the backline?

Should Hamlett go with more of a defensive squad and go to the bench for offense like he did Sunday? Or, should Nyarko, Banner and Mapp get the call right from the start?

Let me know what you think!

Monday, August 10, 2009

There's Nothing Like Youth

To be honest, Patrick Kane and his cousin should have been looking for more money in their pockets, instead of demanding twenty cents back from the cabbie in Buffalo.

Instead, Kane and his cousin allegedly roughed up a 62-year old cab driver and now the Blackhawks young superstar is getting attention he doesn't need.

The first time I heard this story, I heard a person remark that that's what kids do nowadays. What! 20 year olds go around beating up people that provide a service for them, especially when the kids are "allegedly" a tad over served?

A lot of us have had a few, maybe even before we were legally allowed to do so, but have you EVER thought about, first, asking for twenty cents change, or, ever considered beating up a cabbie? Granted, they can get lost sometimes...take the wrong route to cost you more money, but hitting any individual can and should get you in trouble. Hitting someone is never the answer, unless you are defending yourself, and then anything goes.

The "organization" is doing the right thing and waiting for more information before they take a stance.

And finally, the tip should have been at least $2.20 on a $13.80 fare...at least!

If you missed the Fire loss to the Houston Dynamo last night, you missed an exciting, frustrating night of soccer.

The Fire, who had gone five games undefeated, with four straight shutouts, allowed two goals in the first half due to slopping play on the backline. Left back, Gonzolo Segares was lost due to injury in the first half, and at the intermission, Bakary Soumare was benched. Not sure if it was for poor play or he wasn't physically up to par.

Chris Rolfe got one back just one minute into the second half and the Fire tied it up on a great hustle play by Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who crossed a ball to Peter Lowry, who scored his first MLS goal on a pretty side volley.

The Fire lost another defender when Daniel Woolard was kicked in the leg. The backline was now Brandon Prideaux, C.J. Brown, Dasan Robinson and Mike Banner. Prideaux got called for a penalty in the box taking down Corey Ashe with ten minutes to go. Prideaux appeared to get the ball on the slide tackle, and replays show that he did. None the less, Stuart Holden beat Jon Busch from the spot twelve yards out and the Fire went down, 3-2.

Tough loss to a good team. Kansas City is next and the Fire need three points.

Don't forget, David Beckham, Landon Donovan and the L.A. Galaxy come to Toyota Park, Wednesday, August 19. 8:00 start. Stay tuned and I will have more information on something else coming up that evening. Have I piqued your interest?