Friday, Sept. 3, 2010
By Justin O'Neil
The Fire will host the Western Conference leading Galaxy at 3:00 PM on Saturday at Toyota Park at on Comcast SportsNet. The Fire find themselves five points short of the last playoff spot, currently held by the San Jose Earthquake. Chicago has played fewer games than anyone else in the MLS with eleven regular season games remaining.
Guns of August. The arrivals of designated players Freddie Ljungberg and Nery Castillo seemed to spark the Fire, as they earned seven points from three games to begin August. Ljungbergs debut resulted in a big 3-2 win on the road over the league-leading Galaxy, and the team earned a point in a 0-0 draw against the playoff bound New York Red Bulls. An 85th minute goal from Calen Carr gave them a dramatic 2-1 come from behind win over fellow playoff contender New England Revolution 2-1. Since then, the team has suffered a pair of heartbreaking road losses, with last minute goals giving the Houston Dynamo a 4-3 win and the Seattle Sounders a 2-1 victory.
Consistently inconsistent. With a new coach and shuffling roster, it shouldnt surprise many people that the team struggled at the beginning of the season. The month of August was a dramatic improvement for the team, as they easily could have gone undefeated if not for the late concessions in Houston and Seattle. The team was embarrassed on June 29th by being eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup by non-MLS side Charleston Battery, and went 1-4 in July, winning only a meaningless final group match 1-0 over Pumas UNAM en route to being eliminated from the SuperLiga.
A week away. Fire fans will miss David Beckham at Toyota Park for the second straight year. The Los Angeles 35-year-old midfielder has not played this season after tearing his Achilles tendon while on load with Italian club AC Milan earlier this year. The former England captain announced he plans to return for the Galaxys September 11th match against the Columbus Crew. Beckham missed last years match in Bridgeview due to a red card suspension.
CSN's Kelly Crull and analyst Dave Otto discuss the upcoming matchups and Kyle Schwarber's slump in this edition of the Cubs Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.
The Cubs haven't received any California love so far on their six-game road trip.
At Dodger Stadium this weekend, the North Siders were swept away in three games that were never really close. And, now, Joe Maddon's club must regroup on the fly as they head to San Diego to open a three-game set with the Padres on Monday.
If it's any consolation prize, the Cubs' bats did show signs of life against three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw on Sunday. They roughed him up for 11 hits and four earned runs.
"I liked the at-bats that the Cubs had against Kershaw and the Dodgers today," Dave Otto said following the Cubs' 9-4 loss in the series finale.
To salvage a decent road trip, the offense has to find some sort of consistent groove. The lineup was shutout twice in Los Angeles.
Watch the video above to hear Kelly Crull and Dave Otto break down the upcoming series and the slumping order.
LOS ANGELES – In a Cubs season that has already gone off script – or at least not followed the dynasty-in-waiting narrative – it made perfect sense that a Jon Lester vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup at Dodger Stadium would devolve into a slugfest and a bullpen battle.
Randy Newman’s voice – “I Love L.A.” – blasted from the sound system late Sunday afternoon as the Dodgers put the finishing touches on a three-game sweep of the defending World Series champs. The Cubs led for one half-inning during this entire weekend and will wake up in San Diego on Memorial Day as a 25-24 team.
This 9-4 blowout again showed that the Dodgers should be a force in October. Forget about the way forward-thinking manager Dave Roberts basically tried to MacGyver his way through last year’s National League Championship Series with three pitchers – Kershaw, lefty curveball specialist Rich Hill and star closer Kenley Jansen.
“That’s the big separator between what I saw last year and right now – how they’re pitching,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
It didn’t matter that Kershaw got knocked out in the middle of the fifth inning after Willson Contreras, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo launched home runs and the Cubs generated 11 hits off the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
Kershaw still outlasted Lester, who dropped his head, stared at the grass and walked off the mound with one out and two runners on in the fourth inning. The Cubs had earlier fallen into a 6-1 deficit after Lester gave up two three-run homers to Cody Bellinger and Kike Hernandez.
In back-to-back shutouts, the Dodgers (31-20) had already beaten a Cy Young Award winner dealing with questions about his velocity and looming free agency (Jake Arrieta) and a three-time World Series champion who’s 38 years old and now has a 5.18 ERA (John Lackey).
“It’s always tougher the second time, because everybody’s gunning for you,” said Ben Zobrist, who should be back in the lineup on Monday after missing two games with a sore left wrist. “Your expectations are even higher than they were before.
“But this team is definitely equal to the task. That’s not the problem as much as we just got to get back to the fundamentals and execution of the little details in the game. And everything else kind of takes care of itself.”