Fire

Notes from the rewatch: Patrick Doody's breakout game and Juninho's controversial goal

Notes from the rewatch: Patrick Doody's breakout game and Juninho's controversial goal

Brandon Vincent has been lauded for what he has given the Chicago Fire's attack this season, but it took Patrick Doody to surpass his assist production from left back.

Doody had three assists in Saturday's win against New England to go with one assist he had in his first appearance the previous week in Kansas City. Vincent has one goal and three assists this season. Here's a look at Doody's big game and what he gives the Fire as opposed to Vincent and the controversy on Juninho's go-ahead goal late in the first half.

Patrick Doody's breakout game

Patrick Doody's first game in a year and a half had its ups and downs. He assisted on David Accam's goal in the second half in Kansas City, but he also got burned by Graham Zusi on KC's second goal. His second game of the season was more about the positive with three assists and cleaner defending.

Doody's first assist, Juninho’s goal, was a fairly simple pass from Doody. He picked his head up and saw Schweinsteiger. Passing to Schweinsteiger is rarely a bad option. Schweinsteiger saw one better and dummied the ball through for Juninho.

The second assist, Michael de Leeuw’s header, is a highlight reel caliber cross from Doody. Coach Veljko Paunovic referred to it as a “curveball” after the game and it’s not hard to see why. The ball curled out of reach of the goalkeeper and had enough depth to go over the centerback’s attempted headed clearance.

What’s good to see from Doody on this play is that he took on his defender. Doody moved more centrally to provide Dax McCarty with a passing option. Center mid Scott Caldwell stepped up to defend Doody. To get back to the wing, Doody had to take a big touch wide. He had enough separation from Caldwell to put in the cross and de Leeuw did the rest.


The third assist showed more aggression from Doody. He pushed forward to get to the corner late in the game. The cross itself may have been more hopeful than directed, but Solignac did the work to turn it into an assist.

Doody probably isn't as good in possession or defensively as Vincent, but his crosses are better. Vincent has improved in virtually all aspects this season, but Doody is probably still the best crosser on the team. His quality service on the wing has been apparent in practice, but he has been able to show it off in games finally. Now that teams are going to be well aware of what Doody can produce from crossing areas, defenders will be marking him differently. Let's see if he can still produce.

Controversy on Juninho’s goal

Juninho scored what held up as the game-winner and it was his first goal with the Fire, but New England wasn’t happy with the goal. It wasn’t the goal itself, but a foul that happened 20 seconds before it.

David Accam had the ball on the left wing, took a heavy touch and ran into Revolution defender Andrew Farrell as Farrell cleared the ball away. The Revs wanted a foul called. The ref waved for Farrell to get up.

Meanwhile, Schweinsteiger picked up the loose ball from Farrell’s clearance and dribbled right back at New England’s defense. Farrell gets to his feet a few seconds before Schweinsteiger goes back to that side with a pass to Patrick Doody. Doody then sets up Juninho for the goal.

“I think the second goal, really, really hurt us because we just felt like there was a foul on the play,” New England coach Jay Heaps said after the match. “Other than that, it’s going up the other way, we get to halftime 1-1 and we can still regroup.”

In the new era of video review in MLS, this play is something that could have been reviewed. One of the vague terms the league has been using is “attacking phase of play.” Goals can be reviewed not just for something that was clearly missed by the ref on the shot or the assist, but if at any point there is an infraction in the “attacking phase of play.” In this case, you could argue that Schweinsteiger picking up the ball is the start of the attacking phase of play, therefore the possible foul on Accam may not have been reviewable. Even so, Paul Tenorio said on the broadcast that the video assistant referee did check the play, but did not call for further review.

Fire rumored to be connected to former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas

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AP

Fire rumored to be connected to former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas

They don’t call it silly season in Europe for nothing.

The offseason rumors that pop up and, in some cases, happen make for good entertainment around the world of soccer. Sometimes those rumors are connected to MLS, whether or not the chances of them coming to fruition are high.

The latest example of this is Steven Goff of the Washington Post tweeting out a juicy rumor involving the Chicago Fire and former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Goff doesn’t sound very confident in it happening and there are plenty of reasons why, but there are also reasons why it could make sense. In this case, it makes sense for Casillas to be looking for a home to continue his career. When his contract at FC Porto expires at the end of this European season in June, he will be 37 years old.

It’s been two and a half years since he left Real Madrid, where he spent the rest of his career, and he’s not the elite goalkeeper he once was. If Casillas wants to keep playing he may not be able to stick at a Champions League club like Porto, and that’s where the MLS rumors come into play. It makes sense for Casillas to have interest in joining MLS.

On the Fire’s end, the team isn’t loaded at goalkeeper, although there are three keeprs under contract (Matt Lampson, Jorge Bava, Stefan Cleveland) with the possibility of a fourth (Richard Sanchez) also returning. The numbers logjam could be rectified without much problem if the Fire have a chance to snag Casillas.

His experience as a World Cup and Champions League winner (like Bastian Schweinsteiger), would be a nice addition to the team, regardless of age. Casillas was one of the best goalkeepers in the world and won Spain's La Liga five times and the Champions League three times in addition to winning the 2010 World Cup.

The question from the Fire’s perspective is if he could justify the high cost he would likely come with. Goalkeepers aren’t often highly paid players in MLS with the way the salary cap works. More flexibility has been added with more and more resources being given to teams from the league, but the cost of a player like Casillas may be difficult to justify at goalkeeper, even if he would provide another marketing and attendance boost like Schweinsteiger did.

This rumor makes for a good headline, but may not have much basis in reality. Still, there's a decent chance Casillas' name will continue to be connected with a move to MLS until he signs his next deal.

Fire's protected list for expansion draft hints at possible moves

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USA TODAY

Fire's protected list for expansion draft hints at possible moves

The MLS offseason doesn't take long to get in gear.

The Fire traded Arturo Alvarez earlier on Sunday, the same day which the list of protected players was to be announced ahead of Tuesday's expansion draft for Los Angeles FC.

LAFC will take five players in the expansion draft, which is set for 1 p.m. on Tuesday. A team can only lose one player. Each team can protect 11 players and homegrown players aren't eligible for selection. For the Fire that means Drew Conner and Djordje Mihailovic can't be taken.

The Fire protected David Accam, Jonathan Campbell, Johan Kappelhof, Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic, Juninho, Matt Polster, Richard Sanchez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luis Solignac and Brandon Vincent.

While Sanchez and Schweinsteiger are out of contract, the Fire have said they are negotiating with both players. Protecting Juninho is a bit of a surprise because it implies that the Fire have some intention of keeping him for next year, or at least keeping his rights to be traded.

The Fire left David Arshakyan, Jorge Bava, Brandt Bronico, Stefan Cleveland, Jorge Corrales, Michael de Leeuw, Christian Dean, Daniel Johnson and Matt Lampson unprotected. De Leeuw would be a worthwhile pickup for LA if it thinks he is worth it after his ACL tear suffered late in the season.

With only five players being selected it's fairly likely no Fire players are taken by LAFC, but it's arguable that de Leeuw will end up being one of the best five players available. The 31-year-old tied for the team lead with eight assists and scored three goals.