Playing with a man advantage for over an hour tends to put an asterisk on a result.
The Chicago Fire's 3-0 win against New England on Saturday came with the Revolution being shorthanded from the 27th minute on, which makes it tough to evaluate either team. However, there were still a few things that stood out, regardless of the number of players on the field.
Schweinsteiger's up and down first half
Bastian Schweinsteiger's debut was a clean performance filled with key passes and a goal. His second game was quieter, but still mostly mistake free. Against New England, the German made a number of mistakes early on, but they all went unpunished.
He had four turnovers inside the first 10 minutes. Schweinsteiger did settle down with a few nice passes and then eventually scored the goal right before halftime.
His first half ranged from this (facing his own goal):
Solignac as a winger
With David Accam nursing a hip injury, Luis Solignac got the start on the wing with him and Michael de Leeuw flanking striker Nemanja Nikolic. Neither Solignac nor de Leeuw are traditional wingers, but Solignac proved to be a pretty good fit for the position on Saturday.
He assisted Schweinsteiger's goal in the first half and had the key pass that led to Nikolic's first goal early in the second half. The Argentine was named to the MLS Team of the Week for his showing.
Solignac has speed and quickness, both key when playing as a winger. Solignac has typically played as more of a traditional striker in the past so it's no surprise that his service from the right wasn't flawless, but he did set up two goals. Solignac hasn't been an efficient finisher with the Fire, but he has speed, technical ability and is a decent passer. The wing may not be such a bad fit for him and gives coach Veljko Paunovic another wide option.
Playing against 10 men
The Fire are gradually becoming a team that can maintain possession. The additions of Dax McCarty and Juninho helped in that regard, but Schweinsteiger's addition made a big difference in the Fire's approach to possession and how to play with the ball.
When New England went down to 10 men the Fire displayed a dominance of possession, but didn't create a lot of chances at first. Schweinsteiger's goal was the first shot on target of the match and that came in the 45th minute.
The Fire may not have been particularly dangerous, but they were patient and that was rewarded. There was a 31-pass sequence that nearly led to a goal in the 20th minute, but Nikolic was correctly called offside.
The Revs sat a bit deeper down a man and put less pressure on the Fire's defenders when they had the ball. The Fire's two centerbacks, Johan Kappelhof and Joao Meira, both had pass completion percentages above 95 percent. The Fire as a whole passed at a nearly 90 percent completion rate.
Yes, the Fire were up a man for over an hour, but the personnel has changed and the Fire's desire and ability to be patient in possession has changed drastically from a year ago.