The two men doing the most to carry their team’s offense right aren’t among the usual suspects.
Both are terrific attackers, but won’t be counted not among list of true marquee men in MLS.
In Chicago, Chris Rolfe has become the difference between winning and losing. He couldn’t get a grip on the game two weeks ago in the Fire’s 2-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. A few days later, more or less the same story in a surprising 3-1 loss at home to Philadelphia.
But there was Rolfe yesterday, running at Chicago Fire counterattack in the 2-0 win. Rolfe was in on both goals yesterday (although he had an official assist on just one of them).
Before that tough night in Kansas City, it was Rolfe carrying more than his share of the attacking burden. He had seven goals in nine matches as the Fire rose from mid-pack side to one capable of kicking up a real fuss come playoff time.
Rolfe, now working behind striker Sherjill MacDonald in the Fire’s 4-2-3-1, was like this before at Toyota Park, streaky to the highest order. These periodic high-velocity, highly effective dashes are among the reasons Rolfe attracted attention out of Europe in the first place. (The Ohio native spent a little more than two years in Denmark.)
Arne Friedrich and Austin Berry represent a strong central defensive combo, as we saw yesterday in stifling New York (just one shot on goal) in Harrison, N.J.
But if we examine the attack, the Fire has a collection of good-not-great figures beyond Rolfe. So, the 29-year-old’s ability to maintain this peppy form will be the difference for Chicago in the playoffs.
As for the other “top man, but not a marquee man,” check back in a little while …