Chicago Fire

Revolution vs Fire: Fire Heat Map and Touch Map (Game 2: March 8th 2020)

Originally shared on my Twitter account, publishing here for posterity’s sake ). Gifs are created from’s OPTA data. Fire drew 1-1 from a big switch from Alvaro Medran to Djrodje Mihalovic, who crossed the ball into Jonathan Bornstein for an edge of the box knock-on header.


New England Revolution vs Chicago Fire FC touch-map from March 8th 2020:

Fire trotted out the same starting 11 and formation that they did in Week 1: a 4141.

Brandt Bronico (RB) looked considerably better in game two, but you can see how the Fire game plan was to shade on his side of the field, with Robert Beric (ST) up top, Frankowski (RM) high-right,  (CM) Fabian Herbers heavy on the right and Johan Kappelhof (CB) and Mauricio Pineda (CDM) holding it down behind him.

Beric took a beating, and showed  14 losses of possession in this match. Playing away to a physical revs team, Beric was in charge of being the hold-up guy in a direct attacking style the Fire played for long stretches of this match.


New England Revolution vs Chicago Fire FC heat-map from March 8th 2020

Rookie Mo Pineda played fabulously, but not perfectly. He showed some slick evasive moves on the ball, and would spring forward from deep to prevent Revs from turning with the ball.  I also am admiring the positional role of the young midfielder — look how disciplined he was on the heatmap above sitting behind Bronico.

I also wanted to call out how well USBNT call-up Djodje has performed at Left-Mid in two games thus far this season.

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A Twitter thought…


Other Heatmap/Touchmap Posts:

Sounders vs Fire Heatmap-Touchmap (March 1st, 2020)

Chicago Fire, Chicago Fire Game Review

Sounders vs Fire: Fire Heat Map and Touch Map (Game 1: March 1st)


Originally shared on my Twitter account, publishing here for posterity’s sake… (Gif’s created from’s OPTA data). Fire lost 2-1 from two second-half goals from left-winger Jordan Morris.

Above, I thought it was interesting that Herbers (who played ST, RW/RM, and LB last year), had a tremendous game in terms of work rate, but I was more impressed by his positional discipline teaming up with Beric to hassle the Sounders first ball, but never ventured into the final third as a CM shuttling back to cover in a 4-1-4-1, allowing RM Frankowski and RB Bronico to cheat forward.

Seattle Sounders vs Chicago Fire touch-map from March 1st 2020 Game:


Touchmap of Chicago Fire in March 2020 game vs Sounders

Seattle Sounders vs Chicago Fire touch-map from March 1st 2020 Game:


Touchmap of Chicago Fire in March 2020 game vs Sounders


Here’s some Twitter Conversation…


Other Heatmap/Touchmap Posts:

Revs vs Fire Heatmap-Touchmap (March 8th, 2020)

Chicago Fire, Miscellany, MLS News

Who are the most negative Major League Soccer Fans?

Hi, I’m hoping to post more this season, and also preserve some of the things I share on Twitter and on Reddit here so they don’t disappear in a matter of hours. FYI — All the info I share below can be looked at on Google Drive here. I talk about the Chicago Fire first here, but have some broader MLS discussions later on.

Major League Soccer Hashtag Use

In light of Major League Soccer rolling out official hashtags for 2020 (and the Chicago Fire along with some other teams changing theirs for this season), I wanted to see people’s use of those tags, and how they look stacked up against each other.

The new MLS hashtags:

Screen Shot 2020-02-24 at 6.45.09 PM


The old tags (courtesy of Nutmeg News):


There are some other “other” tags included not in this graphic, including #ATLutd for Atlanta United.

I’m using a very basic search tool via Sprinklr to get the 365-day (Feb 24 2019 to Feb 24 2020) volume and “sentiment” analysis on all these tags. First, I want to get one thing out of the way: The conventional opinion that  people online are inherently negative. In the case of MLS soccer hashtag use, that is not the case.

“People are more likely to say negative things on social media than positive things.”

This was the opinion put forth by new Chicago Fire Owner in response to fan reaction online to the new badge.  From The Athletic:

On social media it has been pretty loud among some people. The negative people tend to be the loudest. If you’re neutral or positive, you’re probably not as vocal so you want to be a little careful to get a complete view and not have a selection bias as researchers would say.

This assumption that people are more negative online (at least in terms of MLS hashtags) is actually wrong. In the last 365 days, I pulled the performance of all the MLS tags (old and new), and found this:

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For all instances online of all new and old Major League Soccer hashtags — ~100,000 instances — three-fourths of online opinion were positive.  The thought that if “you’re neutral or positive you don’t say anything online,” is demonstrably wrong in this case.

Fire Owner Joe Mansueto is correct about one thing though, people that use the Chicago Fire’s traditional hashtag (#CF97) have not been super positive about the team in the past year.

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Of the 131k instances online where an opinion could identified, people using the #CF97 hashtag in the past year were 60% positive and 40% negative.  That opinion is considerably more negative when we’re talking about the logo specifically (as I shared on Twitter previously).

If you look at #CFFC, the new tag being rolled out, the new hashtag is 74% positive which is just above the league average across all tags.  Bear in mind, use of #CFFC makes up for 6 of every 100 Fire-based hashtag posts in the last year, and has yet to be fully embraced by people that have historically talked about the Chicago Fire online.

Moving on to an interesting question…

Which teams have the most negativity in Major League Soccer?

Especially in the last five years or so, I was pretty sure my home team, the Chicago Fire, were by far the most negative.  I was wrong, surprisingly, and you might be surprise too.

Most negative MLS hashtag mentions in the last year, by volume:

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In terms of sheer volume, Atlanta United, Montreal Impact and Portland Timber fan bases have had the most negative things to say online using their official MLS hashtags.  That said, just looking at “total volume” isn’t a fair conclusion because there are so many people that are fans of those teams.

To get a better read, I went back and looked at the number of followers each MLS team has on Twitter, and then divided their total Twitter followers by the number of negative social mentions to get a ratio of “negative sentiments per Twitter follower (“Neg Sent Relative”).

When we look at what people say negative things using the Major League Soccer hashtags divided by their total Twitter followings, here is your top ten:

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So… in relation to how many people follow each MLS account, the Major League Soccer hashtag that is most negative is, by far, the New England Revolution.

Another way to read this weird number is this: In the past year, four negative things have been said about the Rev’s for every ten followers of the Revs Twitter account.  (This ratio even beats out Cincinnati, who just fired their coach for using racially insensitive language.)

Which teams have the most positivity in Major League Soccer?

Let’s look on the positive side.  By total volume, here are the MLS franchises that had the most positive social mentions in the past year:

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LAFC narrowly beats out Atlanta for TOTAL positive mentions since Feb of 2019.  In terms of positive social mentions in relation to total Twitter followers:

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LAFC wins out.  Despite a large social presence, Los Angeles Football Club had more positive social mentions online than any other MLS club.

Another way to read this weird number is this: In the past year, nine positive things were said about LAFC for every ten followers of the LAFC Twitter account. (You’ll see, despite the recent negative news, FC Cincy hashtag conversation is resilient despite the recent developments.

Which Major League Soccer teams get talked about the most?

Removing negative and positive sentiment, which MLS team’s hashtags are simply used the most?

Screen Shot 2020-02-24 at 8.00.47 PM

No surprise here (to me at least), Atlanta owns the online chatter trophy, followed by LAFC, and Montreal.  That said, Atlanta, Los Angeles, DC, Toronto, New York, and Philadelphia are very large media markets.  If we do the same Volume/Twitter audience ratio, here is what I would say have the strongest Major League Soccer social media presence:

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It’s New England ftw. Relative to the number of people that follow the Revs on Twitter, The Revs tags get used more often than any other MLS team. Arguably, this would make The Revolutions fan base the “most passionate” or perhaps “most active” online fan base.

Here’s the least-active MLS tags:

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In relation to how many people follow these teams on Twitter…

Screen Shot 2020-02-24 at 8.09.39 PM


This was maybe the most shocking of the numbers — some of MLS’s biggest teams actually have the least online participation relative to how many people follow them on Twitter.  How can this be?  The answer is giant (and dare I say artificial) Twitter followings.

Not that the followers are “bots,” but this number accounts for people that may be following an MLS team on Twitter, but they are not actively posting things using team hashtags anywhere online. Atlanta has 1 Million followers, which seems dubious. Based on established MLS teams like Seattle and LA Galaxy that have been around for a decade longer having followings in the 500k range, a million seems… unlikely.

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For these “least engaged” teams, the people that follow them online are passive followers, they simply don’t talk about their teams online, even if their following numbers are legitimate.







Americans Vs. Soccer, English Premier League

Why It’s “Soccer” in the USA, and Not “Football”

I really, really like NBC’s coverage of English Premiere League soccer, but the more I watch the game — both domestic and internationally, the more important I think it is to continue to call the sport “soccer.”

It’s not football everywhere.


“Soccer” is what Americans call the game (as well as Australians, South Africans, some of the pacific rim and Ireland FYI), and that’s the way it should stay.

It is not the U.S.’s job to emulate the game in such a way so we’re accepted by other footballing nations.  The only way to take ownership of the american style of the game is to continue to refer to it as “soccer”.  The domestic game can’t be the British game, it can’t be the Spanish game, it can’t be the Italian game — to take the next step North Americans must create their own philosophy and identity for the sport, and that includes refusing to use traditional terms.

It is fun to use the british terms — they sound charming, you sound intellectual — but fans of the “international game” only do it a disservice when bowing down to its old-world purveyors.  If US soccer wants to continue their progress as being a top SOCCER nation, it has to stop trying to be a different culture. American sports come with their own history that has personality, flair, competitiveness, personality, athleticism, and grit — it’s time to apply those national characteristics to the game, not defer to other country’s styles in a hopes of being accepted.  Since when has that ever mattered to American athletes anyway?

Americans Vs. Soccer, Chicago Fire, English Premier League

EPL’s Longest Road Trip is Nothing Compared to MLS Trips

NBC Sports’ “I Was There” follows the longest Premier League road trip: Newcastle to Southampton — That’s ~303 Miles.

For comparison, and perhaps insight as to why Soccer is so hard to get going in the U.S — Chicago Fire’s closest away match is in Columbus, 322 miles east.

The sport really does need to take off on the neighborhood and then local level for it to continue it’s U.S. Growth.




Dispatch: Chicago Fire (1) vs. New York Red Bulls (1)

My CF97 game recap… So much more to say, but no one wants to read an epic entry. Suffice to say. Draws are draws, but things are progressing instead of regressing…

OTF Soccer

Young Jalil Anibaba and the Chicago Fire are in the midst of a delicate balancing act (photo: in brutal conditions, BenjiJoya sticks near three defenders to stay warm (photo:

OTF’s Brian Howe Battle has a look at Sunday’s the Fire’s home-opening draw against New York Red Bulls…

View original post 718 more words


Who’s the New Man U?


Same amount of tummies can spell “Wilshire” or “L-SUAREZ

Now that Man U is officially a mid-table nothing, I wonder what will happen to all their psuedo-fans world wide.  What’s the trendiest club to claim allegiance to, and defend by saying you visited there once when studying abroad?

It has to be Liverpool right?  Because they score lots, and they’re owned by the Red Sox? Or maybe Man City because they have more money than god?


On a separate note, I would like to propose a rule that to claim allegiance to an EPL team as an American, you must also follow the domestic league.  Are you a fan of soccer, or are you a fan of being a snob?  If you like the sport, follow the MLS.  Do it.

 Is it inferior? Sure?  So is NCAA football to NFL football, but I don’t see anyone swearing off the BCS anytime soon.

Here’s a good “Choose an EPL Side” survey.  The MLS one is easier:  Which city are you closest to?  Done.


Chicago Fire, Chicago Fire Game Review, Game Review

Fire vs DC Preseason Thoughts

Some quick points for a game that was positive, but means very little…

  • A lot of over-the-top play from DC, defensive line looked like it could have given up at least 2 goals if United had a more-composed striker.
  • Very excited about the Youth Movement.  Last year’s squad invested in veterans, this year it seems there will be real competition for the final spots among all players.
  • It will be interesting to see if Amarikwa challenges Anongono for a starting opportunity.  Clearly, Anongono’s size permits him better hold-up and arial play, but we’ve all seen some of the stunts Amriwka can pull out when given the opportunity