You know what gets teams overlooked? Mediocrity.
I give you the Chicago Fire through midseason in MLS.
Frank Klopas’s team certainly wasn’t all that – but it wasn’t altogether terrible, either. After 15 rounds, the gang from Toyota Park was trotting unremarkably along, in sixth place with a 5-5-3 record (yawn) and a minus-2 goal difference. Yawn again.
That’s the very picture of a team that we all just look past: not enough to get excited about, not enough conflict to kick up a fuss about. So, they crept in under the media radar for much of 2012.
But smart spring and summer signings, the rise of Chris Rolfe (national team attention coming …?), Sean Johnson’s ability to steadily rally past that awful Olympic qualifying moment, the ability to smoothly swim past Marco Pappa’s departure and a few other assorted elements have blended nicely in Illinois.
This morning, after 28 rounds of action, Klopas’ men are banging on Sporting Kansas City’s door, just a single point off the Eastern Conference lead.
Speaking of those mid-summer acquisitions: three of them, Alex, Sherjill MacDonald and Álvaro Fernández, scored as the Fire overcame an early deficit against Montreal, whose fading playoff hopes may have been extinguished for good.
Here are highlights from last night’s 3-1 Fire win in Bridgeview, the sixth win in seven matches for Klopas’ side.