Sitting in the South Stands with my son this past Saturday, I remember feeling so good to be back at Dick's Sporting Goods Park perched in our regular spot to watch our beloved Colorado Rapids. I hadn't been to a match in over a month (I missed the previous two home games). The game was sold out, and for once, a sellout looked like a sellout--for a Chicago Fire match! Hmm, we must be in first! That's fine--the more, the merrier. Come swim at the deep end of the burgundy pool!
Welcomed Back...With a Loss!
We welcomed back Nick LaBrocca and Michael Harrington. I did not see much made of this, likely due to the fact that they were part of a historically bad 2015 Rapids team. No matter. Anytime you put on the Rapids shield and take the pitch, you're a part of our family. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to send them back to Chicago with a loss, just like I was when we sent Clint Irwin and Drew Moor back north of the border with a loss as well.
With no Shkelzen Gashi (off playing for Albania in the Euros) and no Jermaine Jones (off playing with the USMNT), we wondered who would stir the drink.
Dillon Powers with his Petr Cech impersonation did well in place of Jones, leading to the first goal that Kevin Doyle scooted by the Fire keeper. While Jones is an upgrade, I have missed seeing Powers on the pitch. If he played a bit deeper (which he did against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks during the US Open Cup on Tuesday), he provides some great service to the guys up front. This may not qualify as a 'surprise,' it did to me. Maybe it's more nostalgia than anything.
Marlon Hairston playing upfront! I was surprised to see Hairston playing upfront, the same spot he played during his days when he starred at the University of Louisville (go Cards!). Most every other time, he's been on the backline. While he skied more than one cross, I liked his pace for the 80 or so minutes he played. How encouraging it is to see Coach Mastroeni use a young player in such a role, something for which he's not known.
Tell me with a straight face you didn't know Marco Pappa would score the winner. The breakdown at the 81' that equalized for the Fire led to three quick subs: Dominique Badji, Dillon Serna, and our #10 Marca Pappa. Quick story: at the 85', we made our way to the exit, but stopped to watch as we heard the crowd swell. As we made it to Gate B to head out to the lot, my son said, "Dad, one more play!" That one more play was Pappa scoring the winner. There's something about when he comes into the game, that he will do something to give us a win.
Winning ugly is still winning. Here's a conversation starter, and take your pick of which question you'd like answered:
- Someone whom I respect highly said something interesting (which will serve as fodder for a future article). He said, "I would rather lose while playing young, talented guys than win with veterans." Do you agree?
- Another question whose subject was broached in a recent article regarding winning ugly: Would you rather play 'beautiful' soccer and win 4-3, or would you rather play the grind-it-out soccer you tend to see with the Rapids, winning 1-0 or 2-1? In other words, isn't winning ugly still winning? Does it really matter?