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The new Fire looked just like the old Fire - except for the ridiculous new kit (uniforms) - during the season-opening 2-1 loss in Seattle on Sunday. And sorry MLS, but the 2020 league looks just like the 2019 iteration after the first weekend of the 2020 campaign.
The obviously minor league that idiotically called itself Major when it began competition in 1993 (it should have gone with a geographical name like the NASL before it, or perhaps called it itself the National Soccer League) added a star or two during the most recent off-season. The most prominent of those is the LA Galaxy's Chicharito (Javier Hernandez).
The main lowlight I saw of "The Little Pea's" MLS debut over the weekend was of him screaming at his teammates to provide him with better service. I seem to recall Zlatan throwing similar fits during his time in the league the last few years.
The quality of the MLS games I watched over the weekend continued to be a large level of magnitude below the Premier and Bundesliga matches that have made Saturday and Sunday morning sports viewing so cool the last few years.
One of the goofy new MLS owners (there are new franchises in Miami and Nashville this time around) said last week the MLS will be better than the Premiership by 2045. Another owner said the MLS would be passing Major League Baseball and the NHL in total popularity in the next few years.
I'm not sure what metrics they are using but the only thing to say in response to that goofy propaganda is not, bloody, likely. Except for passing the NHL perhaps. I am very fond of hockey but there is no denying that the American ratings for the league continue to be nothing if not pathetic.
But let's return now to an assessment of our local soccer squad.
The old Fire had uniforms that made perfect sense. The primary color was red and the primary logo looked like the sort of badge a fire department would have on its uniforms. The new color is blue and the logo apes the logo with which the violent street gang know as The Latin Kings have been vandalizing local landmarks for what, 50 years?
Perhaps the best way to describe the new uniforms is that they are the epitome of bad sports ridiculousness. But fans won't care about turning their team into an homage for a street gang this season as long as the team doesn't suck.
That 's right, I didn't say "is good," I said "doesn't suck." That is the proper bar for a team that has stumbled into absolute irrelevance in the past decade. The Fire has only made the playoffs twice at the end of the last 10 seasons and were knocked out immediately both times.
The team finally sucked enough that absentee owner Andrew Hauptman bailed out during this past offseason. He had sold a minority share in the squad to local billionaire Joe Mansueto in recent years and sold him the rest heading into the 2020 campaign. Hallelujah.
At least on his way out Hauptman provided a model for other owners in sport. Sometimes you suck enough to just go ahead and sell the team. Hey McCaskeys! Pay attention!
On Sunday the Fire showed a little promise, especially in the first half. But then the Sounders brought in top striker Jordan Morris after the intermission and he capitalized on the scoring chances that his fellow Seattle strikers squandered in the first 45 minutes.
The Fire also return to Soldier Field this season, another major plus (thanks Joe!). And they will open against New England on Saturday at 12:30. And their next game, on the 14th, is at home as well. The tricky part of making the move out of Bridgeview is that if the team sucks again it will be hard to hide big swaths of empty seats in the by far bigger Soldier Field.
But in Chicago, where major league teams play within 20 minutes of downtown and the minors populate the suburbs, the first thing you need to do if you are going to convince people you're better than second tier sports is to get into a major league venue.
Good luck guys!
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.
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