Photo by Jeff Vorva
Chicago Fire player Drew Connor jogs through the confetti after the Fire’s win over Seattle Saturday night. Sports editor/columnist Jeff Vorva questioned a confetti celebration for a regular-season match against a defending MLS champ with a losing record.
I penalize the Chicago Fire for excessive celebration.
The Fire played great on Saturday night with a 4-1 victory over defending Major League Soccer champion Seattle at Toyota Park.
Chicago looked like an elite team in front of a sold-out announced crowd of 20,153 as well as a large TV audience on ESPN2.
After the game, the Fire players, as they usually do, went to the stands to thank their adoring fans for the support. It was a fine, happy moment.
And then, on the east side of the stadium, confetti fell.
Did the Fire just win an MLS championship? Did I miss something?
Look, this was one of the biggest wins in the Veljko Paunovic era and general manager Nelson Rodriguez and the officials behind the scenes deserve a tip of the cap and pats on the back for turning a two-time last-place team into an exciting entity.
But let’s get real, here.
Confetti is for championships. Not for a team that won its fourth game out of 10. Not for a regular-season match in May. Not for a team that rolled over a team that came into the match with a 2-3-4 record.
Not for a team that earned three points to stay in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
If knocking off a defending champion deserves confetti, Major League Baseball teams would lose money with all the squads beating the Cubs.
You celebrate your baby’s first steps, not first burps.
You celebrate your kid’s graduation not for surviving the 153rd day of school.
Personally, I think Fire officials should bring a Mack truck full of confetti on the road and let it loose the next time the team wins a road game because that is much more of a rare accomplishment.
OK, enough about the mess they made on the field after the game – let’s talk about the mess the Fire players made of the Sounders on the field during the game.
After spending the first five minutes or so on the Fire’s side of the field, the boys decided that they could actually cross the line and kick the ball around on the north side of the field, too.
Nemanja Nikolic is building up a resume for being an MLS MVP candidate as he scored for the Fire on a penalty kick in the 25th minute but that was negated three minutes late when Seattle’s Clint Dempsey returned the favor.
In the second half, David Accam, Luis Solignac and Nikolic scored in a 16-minute span and Seattle had no answer while the Fire defense and goalie Matt Lampson (making his second straight start of the year) played a clean second half.
"The team is growing, the team is growing,’’ Paunovic said and repeated. “The smiles are back in Bridgeview finally and it’s not only one game, this is the general feeling our team has inside the locker room and outside the locker room, when we are downtown in the city, wherever we are, we can feel there is a passion about the team's expectations, positive expectations.
“The people can see good results, can see great games like today, can see the overall improvement of our team, depth and the mentality where the team now feels confident and are capable of managing difficult games against difficult opponents, champions like Seattle. So, I would say the mentality changed with the consistency in believing and working hard and addressing things, fixing things on a daily basis, and wins like today help our chance to build on top of the confidence and good things we did in the past."
It was a big win for a franchise hoping to turn things around and it was a magical night.
But it didn’t deserve confetti.