The Chicago Fire suffered a second loss in as many weeks Saturday night in Kansas City. Veljko Paunovic had his hands full of drama entering the match against MLS’ stingiest defense. All Star snubbed Man In Red David Accam began the game on the bench for the second consecutive game amidst reports of salary disputes and transfer requests. The Ghanian speedster showed his importance to the Fire again, as Chicago produced little in the attacking third until his inclusion in the second half. Paunovic had additional squad headaches with the absence of winger Arturo Alvarez and left back Brandon Vincent with injuries. The Serbian coach selected Luis Solignac ahead of Accam and gave Patrick Doody his MLS season debut. The 3-2 loss leaves the Fire two points behind Toronto at the top of the eastern conference and boosts Sporting Kansas City up to first place in the west.
A Kiss Goodbye?
David Accam kissed the Chicago Fire badge as he celebrated his goal Saturday night. The winger’s contribution and theatrics only add fuel to the speculation of where his future lies. The Fire were already down by two goals against SKC when Veljko Paunovic substituted Accam in for Luis Solignac. There was an air of desperation to the inclusion of Accam. Bringing a player into the same game in which he was benched for off-the-field issues for the second consecutive week seems like a management failure. Benching Accam to start the game only to include him when the team is behind is a mixed message for Accam and the entire squad. Arsene Wenger’s handling of Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal last year is a prime example of how to mismanage a disruptive but important player. Chicago’s head coach now heads into the All Star break with questions swirling about his Ghanaian playmaker.
Loosing David Accam would be a considerable loss for Chicago’s turnaround team. The players skill set adds considerable value to the Men In Red. His presence on the field gives Chicago an extra skilled player most MLS teams do not possess. Perhaps no other MLS team has as many difference makers as the Fire do with Accam on the field. The player known as ‘King’ David’s form when surrounded by better players is staggering, having netted 12 times and assisting on seven. No other team in MLS has a winger in the form of Accam and he appears to still be improving despite having his minutes being limited. Fire supporters and neutrals alike will be disappointed to see the departure of the Ghanaian International. Perhaps if the All Star game was an Eastern vs Western conference format, there would have a spot for Accam to be included.
A Welcome Return to Toyota Park
Once the festivities of the All Star game have come and gone at Soldier Field, the Fire will get to play their first home game in 35 days. Between the Gold Cup break and a three game road swing the Fire haven’t competed at Toyota Park since the beginning of July. The Men In Red will come up against the New England Revolution for the third time this season. The Fire previously defeated the Revs 3-0 at home in April and squeaked out a 2-1 win at Gillette Stadium in June. The Fire will be looking to remain undefeated at home in 2017 and end a run of form which includes one point from their last three games.