Tomorrow, New York City takes on a re-stoked Chicago Fire in a match with massive playoff implications. Sean Spence joins us here at HRB. You know the drill: we’ve got questions, he’s got answers.
1. Everyone knows about Dax, Bastian, and Nikolic. But whom would you say are the unsung heroes of this astonishing turnaround for the Fire?
Ok, here comes some fanboyish squealing, but sooooooooo many guys. I mean, it's possible to argue that David freakin' Accam is relatively unsung on this team, which is straight-up crazy. The work-rate twins, Michael de Leeuw and Luis Solignac; each brings quality on the ball and palpable desire. Matt Polster discovering he could become an elite right back. João Meira staying back and connecting passes.
But none of those happen if Andrew Hauptman (or whomever) isn't writing the checks, and a significantly smaller portion happen if Nelson Rodriguez isn't making canny decisions about the construction of the roster. As much as I hate that this is the reality of things, the Fire's beautiful football doesn't happen without those dolla dolla bills, y'all.
2. Schweinsteiger’s acquisition was shocking from a team that hadn’t really distinguished itself with its key player additions recently. Do you think this was a one-off by Chicago’s maligned ownership, or are the Fire ready to become players in the East again, in the same way that the Blackhawks went from being a laughingstock to a juggernaut?
Reply hazy - try again later.
But seriously, it's hard to tell whether this is a one-off or a longer commitment - we'll know more after the transfer window closes, and the one after that.
Football tends to shred quick-buck artists, because of the unfortunate fact (for those who seek to make a quick buck off of football) that the challenge is a long-term one: Grow the economy around this luxury thing sufficiently to compete with other people growing the economy around this luxury thing. MLS' opacity and structure make such judgements difficult in the extreme.
tl/dr: Insufficient data; inquiries continue.
3. As a Fire fan, what does this season feel like for you guys?
I should stipulate from the outset that I could be a very, very far outlier from others' experience of CF97 fandom - but for me, it's been hallucinatory, like one of my Football Manager saves come to life. It seemed weird enough before Schweinsteiger - Dax McCarty and Juninho as the 6 and 8 behind a hungry striker? That's a playoff team.
Then we added Basti, and he's wrapped the team around himself like he understands that a star has a certain responsibility its own gravity well, and the central figure poured its energy outward, making Dax better, Matt Polster, really all the defenders, the shuttlers better, made the coaches better...if one has ever found oneself unaccountably dosed with nitrous oxide, the sense of positive expectation, that each glorious moment will lead inevitably to some further glory, rather than regressing to some balancing tragedy would seem familiar. And yet here we are.
Is this real? Am I on Earth-1? Goddamnit, I've played too much Football Manager to figure out what's real.
New York City take on Chicago tomorrow at 2 p.m. EDT, 1 p.m. CDT at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The game will be on YES in the New York area, on CSN-Chicago in Chicagoland, and streaming on MLS Live. Unless you’re in New York or Chicago, in which case you’ll have to use FoxSports GO or Comcast’s streaming platform.
Want to go old school? You can listen on radio — WFAN 101.9 FM/66AM for English, 1280 WADO-AM and 92.7 FM for español. Or online at nycfc.com/radio. Tune in, turn on, and get hyped, folks.