FuegoCast #92: Baby Steps

The gang returns to discuss the Fire's 3-0 preseason win over University of South Florida, review the continuing saga of Offseason Player Insanity, look at the signings around the league, touch upon the future CONCACAF Champions League games, and answer the returning Tweets and Huddalis. 

Also, Elle is away getting birthday huddled, Nick is making the audios, Joey is a late scratch, Sara is a late addition, Gregg lays out the schedule for the show, Sara reveals her team crush, Gregg lists the players younger than Sara, some friendly faces visited Ellen's bar, and Sara mistakes the show's rating as PG then seemingly gives her last breath on air. 

Host: Gregg Mixdorf
Panelists: Rudy Gomez, Sara Corona
Producer: Nick Fedora

TRT: 48:14

FuegoCast #91: Going for LaBrocca

The gang returns this week to talk more pre-season Player Insanity, continue to despair over the current state of the roster, talk about soccer that doesn't relate to a team with a shambolic roster, 

Also, Joey starts an episode title naming streak with a great pun, Nick is away at work, the gang heartily approves one of the new signings, Sara has difficulty joining the call late, Gregg makes a freudian slip already ready to fire players, Sara brings audio chaos again, Nick rescues Joey from the audio abyss in post, Rudy loses it and confesses his infidelity with another podcast, Elle coins a new euphemism relating to filing a discovery claim, Joey asks Nick to sacrifice a woman to the audio gods at the USA vs. Iceland game, Sara and Elle go on a magnificent rant, and the gang is horrified by a photo in the Skype chat. 

Host: Gregg Mixdorf
Panelists: Rudy Gomez, Elle Harrer, Joey T, Sara Corona
Producer: Nick Fedora

TRT: 55:51

FuegoCast #90: The Values of Depth

The gang strike back to discuss more off season Player Insanity, plunge to the depths of their emotions on the current state of the roster and technical staff, critique the new home shirt, talk about babies and filthy friendlies, and Joey returns his Where Are They Now? segment.

Also, Nick is extra salty, and not just from the ocean, Sara is lost in the internet, Gregg does a Nelson Rodriguez impersonation in the style of Batman, Joey talks Twitter handles, Elle wants a new player to take the same drugs as referees, the gang makes an HGTV reference, the gang continues to debate the attractiveness of the bench, Joey suggests a member of the podcast sign for the team then finds DJ Step's greatest challenge, Mad Gregg scolds Rudy about muting his phone when Alexis makes a cameo appearance, and Elle casts a classy sitcom.

Host: Gregg Mixdorf
Panelists: Rudy Gomez, Elle Harrer, Joey T
Producer: Nick Fedora

TRT: 55:53

FuegoCast #89: GAM, TAM, Thank You Ma'am

FuegoCast #89: GAM, TAM, Thank You Ma'am

The gang returns in the new year to discuss the Patrick Nyarko trade to D.C. United, Player Insanity: SuperDraft Edition including the Joevin Jones trade, rumored signings, and additions to the FIFA referees list, and honor the patron saint of the show, Cuauhtemoc Blanco. 

Also, Ellen is working the booze mines, Rudy is late, Sara is adrift in parts unknown, Nick is defensive about the age of 30, Gregg recognizes the cuteness of soccer soul mates Vejlko Paunovic and Nelson Rodriguez, Joey has his own criteria for judging left backs and his own idea on how to release new signings, Gregg upsets Nick at an indirect dig at the Veikkausliiga, Nick defends his mad beard then starts his own player rumor, which the gang ogles, and Joey shares a story of true love then coins the name of the episode

Host: Gregg Mixdorf
Panelists: Rudy Gomez, Joey T
Producer: Nick Fedora

TRT: 56:29

FuegoCast #88: Cemented in History

* This was originally published on 12/18/2015

The gang returns to discuss the lackluster Re-Entry Draft results and other league signings, talk about the new Homegrown signings and signing rumors, review the incredible Liga MX final, and quickly talk about the Club World Cup.

Also, Nick makes a gross recommendation for a signing, Rudy didn't watch the Liga MX final leading to shaming from Nick and Gregg, Nick's dumb jokes return, the crew dedicates themselves to live coverage of the CONCACAF Champions League, Gregg and Nick rush to their computers for Liga MX rumors, and Gregg is lucky to be alive.

Host: Gregg Mixdorf
Panelist: Rudy Gomez
Producer: Nick Fedora

Direct download link HERE.

FuegoCast #87: Everything's Coming Up Rose City

* This was originally published on 12/11/2015

The gang returns to review Portland Timbers' 2-1 MLS Cup winning victory over the Columbus Crew, look at MLS Player Insanity and the Re-Entry First Round, and review the mighty Liga MX Semi-Finals.

Also, Rudy calls in from the Pub 97 unveiling and teases some news not meant for the podcast, the rest of the gang are occupied, Nick has dreamy eyes for Michel in the Re-Entry Draft, Gregg is incredulous that the Liga MX Playoffs aren't on at the Pub 97 unveiling, and Gregg tries to get secrets from Rudy.

Host: Gregg Mixdorf
Panelist: Rudy Gomez
Producer: Nick Fedora

Direct download HERE.

FuegoCast #86: Out the Door

* Originally Published 12/5/2015

Gregg and Rudy return to discuss 2015 Player Insanity: Contract Option Edition, pontificate about the Carlos Vela rumors, preview the MLS Cup Final, talk about some Liga MX Playoffs, as well as look at the knockout round fixtures for the CONCACAF Champions League.

Also, everyone else is apparently busy, Rudy is a sleepy head and is sad about Club America, Sunshine has a lot of important meowing about Carlos Vela and Veljko Paunovic, Rudy is apparently making a drink throughout the show, Gregg thanks Rabble TV for hosting the Live FuegoCast, Gregg shows his inner gringo pronunciation of Mexican club names, Rudy commits sacrilege, and Nick is probably having a well earned drink after dealing with a technically difficult episode.

Host: Gregg Mixdorf
Panelist: Rudy Gomez
Producer: Nick Fedora

Direct download HERE.

FuegoCast #85: Cautiously Optimistic

* Originally published 11/25/2015

The gang returns to discuss the hire of the Fire's new mysterious head coach Veljko Paunovic, review the Leg 1 results of the MLS Cup Playoffs, preview the Leg 2 match ups, and take a quick look at the Liga MX Playoffs.

Also, Sara and Elle zip in with lookalike comparisons for Paunovic, Joey appreciates the coaching style of Paunovic, Joey breaks bad news to Nick about Nelson Rodriguez's stance against the dark arts, the gang evaluate the possible fashion decisions for next year's bench, Rudy leaves the call to make rice pudding, and Joey breaks the code for MLS hat tricks in 2015.

Host: Gregg Mixdorf
Panelists: Rudy Gomez, Joey T, Sara Corona
Producer: Nick Fedora

Direct download HERE.

FuegoCast #84: Fuego Playoff Fever

The gang returns to review all of the MLS Playoff Conference Semi-Final results, preview the Conference Finals, talk about the recent coaching change in the league, and round up some player rumors. Also, a certain matchup sedated two very active listeners, the gang are unhappy with the managers of their preferred international teams, and they start a new catch phrase for the Fire's coaching search.

Host: Gregg Mixdorf

Panelist: Rudy Gomez

Producer: Nick Fedora

TRT: 75:23

Download: Fuego Ep. 84

FuegoCast #83: Fan Depreciation Night

The gang returns to discuss the abomination 2-1 home loss to the Supporters' Shield champions New York Red Bulls, put the worst regular season to bed, review who in the front office and on the roster should stay and who should gargle, talk about the recent coaching rumors, and predict the MLS Cup Play-in round. Also, Gregg and Elle have alternate ideas for Fan Appreciation Night, Sara smuggled potatoes into the stadium, the gang admit mistakes were made and continue to profess their love for Denis "The Hammer" Hamlett, Joey admits he needs a good cry sometimes, Elle doesn't trust the name Tab, Gregg uncovers the controversy of Fat Sparky, Elle outs Gregg's tendency to record conversations, Nick conjures the most horrifying image in podcast history according to Elle, Nick comes up with a catch phrase for Gregg's coaching search, LA has ruined Nick's sense of fashion decency, and Gregg has enticing plans for when Nick visits Chicago over Thanksgiving.

Host: Gregg Mixdorf

Panelists: Rudy Gomez, Elle Harrer, Joey T Producer: Nick Fedora

FuegoCast #82: El Rey de CONCACAF

The gang returns to mostly ignore the recent Fire news, break down Mexico's 3-2 CONCACAF Cup victory over the United States, discuss the coaching situations for Mexico and the United States, and take a general look at the MLS Playoff picture and Supporters Shield race. Also, Gregg reports on behalf of Nick from the CONCACAF Cup, Sara joins the call like she usually does, then the gang previews the upcoming wrestling shows and corresponding podcast, share their love for Nick who is probably getting frustrated with the episode, and swap photos on the chat that thankfully none of you will ever see.

There really isn't anything much to talk about, folks.

Host: Gregg Mixdorf Panelist: Rudy Gomez, Sara Corona Producer: Nick Fedora

Download: Fuego Ep. 82

FuegoCast #81: Finding the Big Straw

The gang returns from another hiatus to discuss the firing of Frank Yallop, the hiring of Nelson Rodriguez, take a quick look at the roster in general, offer some hopeful transfer and coaching options, and review the MLS Playoff picture. Also, Nick asks for future favors from Nelson Rodriguez, Gregg and Rudy ask for multiple Mexican players because of course, Nick asks for more defensive midfielders because of course, the gang gush over the Miguel Herrera as head coach idea because of course, Joey volunteers to pay Miguel Herrera's bail, and the gang discovers they like well dressed brawlers for coaches.

Host: Gregg Mixdorf

Panelists: Rudy Gomez, Joey T

Producer: Nick Fedora

Download: Fuego Ep. 81

FuegoCast #80: The Chaos is Real

The gang returns to discuss the Fire's 3-2 home win against New York Red Bulls, review the recent Player Insanity move, Gregg gives up talking soccer to talk to give an update about the wrestling, preview the weekend's game against Orlando City, and take a quick look at the CONCACAF and UEFA Champions Leagues. Also, Sara and Joey T make their triumphant returns to the lineup, Sara returns with bloodlust flowing, Gregg keeps his crew in line, someone in the panel deserves a yellow card for driving while unmuted, Joey and Gregg give Wednesday night's referee a new nickname, Sara calls out Young Steve Young's driving ability compensation, the gang work the bleep button to death, Sara goes off on a tangent about school, Gregg gets excited for confetti and can't stomach the national anthem, Sara keeps introducing herself to the show and later contemplates hygiene of pregnant women, Joey gets a new nickname, and Nick is drinking himself into oblivion for having to deal with the audio and yellow card edits.

Host: Gregg Mixdorf

Panelists: Rudy Gomez, Sara Corona, Joey "Orange Cassidy" T

Producer/dead from editing: Nick Fedora

Download: Fuego Ep. 80

Defensive Breakdowns: Red Stars Late Game Collapses

Alright Red Stars, we need to talk. Look, you were doing so well throughout the season, especially without your national team players away at the World Cup, but now with the end of the season in sight and playoffs within reach, it's time to look at something that's really bothering me (besides the embarrassing goal against Portland). One win from the last seven games is bad enough, but dropping five points from three goals conceded after the 80th minute in that span is criminal when chasing first place and building momentum for the post season. Let's take a look at what's going wrong. Keeping Calm Under Pressure

Let's start all the way back to July 25th when the Red Stars were on their way to earn another three points against Washington Spirit to add to the gap atop the standings. Chicago held a 1-0 lead after a Christen Press opening goal in the 30th minute and attempted to close the game out. Let's take a look at Vanessa DiBernardo who finds time and space with the ball to keep valuable possession alive. Red Stars captain Lori Chalupny shows for the easy ball, while Press makes herself available, likely for a give and go behind the defense, with Sofia Huerta occupying empty space as the secondary release. However, DiBernardo's eyes are locked on a deeper, longer range target.

1 Dunn 1

This is the first critical mistake and where inexperience shows for DiBernardo as she releases for Arin Gilliland as Francisca Ordega quickly closes down the space and fights for the ball. The Red Star defense should still be in decent shape outnumbering the Spirit attack six to three should they lose possession, although league leading goalscorer Crystal Dunn (navy blue #2) all alone in the middle of the frame should cause concern.

1 Dunn 2

Ordega wins the ball from Gilliland and the second ball battle in midfield against Chalupny giving the Spirit an opportunity to counterattack. The webcast direction fails us here as we only see Amanda DaCosta immediately rushing toward goal with Christine Nairn supporting to provide a delayed run at goal. We can't see how the other players react to the change of possession.

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Here's where the next critical development for the Red Stars happens as Nairn lines up a long distance attempt at goal from around the same spot Press scored earlier roughly 25-30 yards out. The camera angle is too tight for a clear picture and too fast to get the exact frame I wanted (Thank you for having a slow motion option, MLSLive), but Nairn fakes out Danielle Colaprico's last ditch slide tackle to block the attempt. With a wider camera angle, we may have been able to see how these three things developed: 1. The effect of DaCosta's run, if any, dragging the back line out of position. 2. Colaprico defending the center of the midfield without cover as Chalupny remains behind the play after losing the 50-50 ball. 3. DiBernardo not dropping into the midfield in Chalupny's place after Ordega releases the pass to Nairn.

Regardless, Colaprico going to ground without cover is an ill-advised risk. Merely closing down the space may not have been enough at that distance away from the shooter to thwart the danger, but losing an all in bet from a desperate position prompted the scrambling Red Stars centerbacks to double down on the next shot attempt.

1 Dunn 4

With Nairn ready to release her real shot, both Julie Johnston and Samantha Johnson close her down leaving space behind them right in front of the goal. Ideally, Johnson would close down with Johnston covering, as goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc cheats toward her near post and Johnson would eliminate the far post angle. But with the Spirit attack keeping its momentum, there's no time to decide, and it's better for both of them to react rather than neither of them.

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The ball deflects off Johnston fortuitously to Dunn, who manages to find the space occupied by the centerbacks for a clear look at goal. Gilliland does a great job sticking with Dunn deny space for the shot, and even gets a piece of it, but it unfortunately manages to be a deflection that beats LeBlanc at her near post.

1 Dunn 6

This sequence began with DiBernardo making a high-risk, long distance pass back to the defensive third when easier, safer options away from goal available. Taking care of the ball is absolutely critical to managing close games late and giveaways in the defensive half put immense strain on the tired defense. The Red Stars did well to scramble after Gilliland lost the ball, but the chain reaction had already started and a dangerous attempt at goal became inevitable.

Keeping Track of Wide Danger

This match against Kansas City FC comes the week after the collapse against Washington. This being a home game and after the burn of a late goal the week before, one would expect a better performance in the latter stage of the match. Unfortunately, that was not the case again.

So we see Kansas City take a throw-in late in the match with the Red Stars forming a defensive shell around Heather O'Reilly who receives the throw without immediate pressure and Lauren Holiday making a run to the corner for a pass down the touchline.

2 Hagen 1

Julie Johnston pressures Holiday as she catches up to the through ball and everyone else follows the play completely abandoning O'Reilly. One of the players from the defensive shell needs to stay behind to track one of the most dangerous players on the team and a USWNT veteran.

This sequence is framed so poorly it is hard to see what is happening in the box. This isn't a provocative stylistic framing choice like on Mr. Robot (highly recommended viewing if you aren't already watching, BTW). Anyway, we can't see the movement developing in the box or if a side has a numerical advantage. We do see Frances Silva making a run towards goal, though.

2 Hagen 2

O'Reilly receives the pass with too much space allowed by the Red Stars midfield. She will have plenty of time to touch, look up, and pick out a target. Again, it's too hard to tell who is marking whom, but the Red Stars' centerbacks aren't marking anyone. Johnston is still out by the corner after defending Holiday and Abby Erceg is floating around atop the six-yard box.

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By the time O'Reilly attempts the cross, no one is standing in front of her and the goal and the nearest defender is still three yards away. Meanwhile, Sarah Hagen starts her run to the far post.

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Hagan wins the header at the far post as she loses her mark and beats the defender, who had to slide over to cover, at the far post. This is a perfect cross to the top of the six-yard box right in front of goal. The type of cross O'Reilly can make all day with no pressure at all.

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When goals like this happen, we often look at the defender's marking or the goalkeeper's decision of whether to come off the line, but these issues would not come in to play if the midfielders properly tracked the opposition, especially one of the most dangerous players on the field.

Step Up and Stay in Line

Our last late goal to look at comes from last Sunday against the same Washington Spirit as league leading goal scorer Crystal Dunn nets the winner in the 92nd minute. This lost result would send the Red Stars down to their current position in third place behind Washington and eight points behind league leaders Seattle.

This sequence begins with a low-percentage long ball from the Spirit's defensive third that the Red Stars defense should easily recover. However, Dunn's speed puts pressure on Michelle Lomnicki, so instead of an easy recovery and pass to the goalkeeper to regain possession, Lomnicki has to put the ball out of touch conceding possession to the Spirit in their attacking third.

3 Dunn 1

The defense recovers quickly and appears to be in position to defend the throw-in. It is taken quick and immediately passed back to Dunn. Lomnicki closes down Dunn immediately and Arin Gilliland leaves her marker to double team Dunn. Meanwhile, we see only one Spirit attacker in the box attentively marked by Taryn Hemmings.

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Dunn attempts to power through the double team as Amanda DaCosta makes a run in the box. Abby Erceg tightly marks Spirit attacker Ngozi Okobi with Hemmings closer to goal and ready to clear away a far post cross.

3 Dunn 3

The Red Stars defense drops deep to prevent any dangerous runs behind the line, but concede all the space at the top of the box. Dunn knows if she can get to the top of the box, she can get a dangerous shot off. At this point, Gilliland has to put pressure on Dunn to stop her, or at least make her pass the ball where the organized defense can intercept. Erceg, however, breaks the defensive line following Okobi's run instead of letting Okobi run offside.

3 Dunn 4

Gilliland does apply pressure, but it's not aggressive enough as Dunn easily outruns it and continues her dribble. Melissa Tancredi is a peach of a forward who tracks all the way back to apply further pressure on Dunn's shot. Unfortunately for the Red Stars, Okobi's run works as she drags Erceg completely out of position opening a huge window through which Dunn can shoot.

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Tancredi is too late to block the shot (nice to see the effort from a forward, though!), and Karina LeBlanc is very late to cover the far post. All while Dunn dribbled centrally, LeBlanc stuck tight to her near post, possibly screened by her defenders, and reacted far too late to the shot. As for the shot itself, sure enough, right through the huge window vacated by Erceg. Dunn did all the hard work, but Okobi is the unsung hero for opening the space for the shot.

3 Dunn 6

With only three games left of the season, the Red Stars should still qualify for the playoffs, but the battle for the top position they were winning before these dropped points has been long lost. Thankfully, the Red Stars play two of the last three games at home on Sunday, August 23rd in Lisle and Sunday, September 6th at Toyota Park. Go support your Red Stars as they will have hopefully fixed the problems leading to these late game collapses.

FuegoCast #79: All About the Cups

The gang returns from another hiatus to review Player Insanity: 2015 Summer Edition, the 2-0 Brimstone Cup home win against Dallas, offer criticism to Harry Shipp's form, preview Friday's away match at Portland and Wednesday's huge US Open Cup Semi-Final at Philadelphia, catch up with our beloved Chicago Red Stars, and quickly round up some MLS, CONCACAF Champions League, and Liga MX action. Also, Nick calls in from the 405 with terrible audio quality, Rudy calls from what sounds like the bayou, Gregg sounds pristine, Nick argues the semantics of certain formations to add more defenders, the gang discuss the disturbing trend of awful defending in MLS that will surely kill Nick, Gregg adopts a Liga MX team, Rudy and Gregg discuss more wrestling, and Rudy shows Gregg the Alan Gordon spread.

Host: Gregg Mixdorf

Panelist: Rudy Gomez

Producer: Nick Fedora

Download: Fuego Ep. 79

FuegoCast #78: Breaking the Sounders Barrier

The gang returns to discuss the Fire's first ever win against Seattle, preview the home and away series against Columbus, review the League's weekend action, talk about the prime filth fest that is the CONCACAF Copa de Oro, look at the MLS All-Star Game lineup, and give a shout out to our beloved Red Stars. Also, Rudy makes wrestling references, Nick watches games at Pep Boys and mourns the loss of his car, and Gregg coins a new nickname for a certain CONCACAF team.

Host: Gregg Mixdorf

Panelist: Rudy Gomez

Producer: Nick Fedora

Download: Fuego Ep. 78

FuegoCast #77: Fire and Freedom

The gang is back to discuss the Fire's 3-1 U.S. Open Cup home win against Charlotte Independence, preview Friday's game at Houston, analyze the new Core Player rule, find possible Mexican internationals for the Fire, review some USWNT World Cup, and review the Quincy Amarikwa trade. Also, Gregg eats fajitas, Elle has particular musical choices, the gang discusses Chris Ritter's bird violence, Nick and Elle are (still) broke, Gregg does a reverse Donald Trump, Rudy can't do math, Nick doesn't mind Canadians, then the gang endorses the women's game, talk more wrestling, give a hotel endorsement, and give a fond farewell to now retired FuegoCast Legend Jonny Steele.

Enjoy your Fourth, everyone.

Host: Gregg Mixdorf

Panelists: Rudy Gomez, Elle Harrer

Producer: Nick Fedora

TRT: 55:34

Download: Fuego Ep. 77