BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Fire defender C.J. Brown didn't mince words with his take on Chicago's miserable 2-0 home loss to Kansas City at Toyota Park on Tuesday night.
“It’s obviously very disappointing,” the last remaining Fire original said of the defeat, “but it’s par for the course right now. We get one good game and then we go follow it up with mediocre play after that.
“I don’t know what you say it is,” he continued. “It could be fitness, [but] I think it’s more mental fitness. I think we aren’t mentally strong enough this year and our record shows it.”
The Fire certainly showed an alarming lack of mental strength Tuesday night. Fresh off of a resounding 2-0 win over Columbus last Friday, they came out flat against the Wizards and let take the game to them, showing little in the way of tradition, honor or passion.
“I think this year we’ve [gotten] away from what we’ve always been about,” Brown said. “We used to have those types of guys that will battle and, so far this year, we don’t have them. There’s a few guys out there working their tails off and we’ve got to build around those guys.”
Brown put part of the blame for the Fire’s poor attitude on himself. And while he might have been being overly harsh, his contention that some of Chicago’s players don’t know what it means to put on a Fire jersey rings true.
“I kind of blame myself,” Brown said. “You look at all the pictures [of former Fire players] in this locker room and nobody really knows who these guys are. You put that jersey on and you’re playing for all those guys that have been a part of this.
“I didn’t express that enough and it’s a shame because even if you’re new to this team, you should come in wanting to play for the jersey,” he added. “Having the results that we got this year is very, very disappointing. It’s not understandable.”
The 35-year-old center back, who performed admirably on Tuesday night, said he and his teammates need to approach their remaining two games as an audition for next season.
“Guys are playing for a job next year,” said Brown. “The coaches need to be out there looking to see who really wants to be a part of the Fire and not just a professional soccer player. The players need to play for their club and [if they do well], they’re going to get opportunities.”
Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos agreed with the majority of Brown’s sentiments.
“It wasn’t a good game for us,” de los Cobos said through a translator. “We didn’t have the right attitude, especially coming from a win against Columbus that should’ve motivated us to come into this game stronger.”
If they’re going to improve in 2011, de los Cobos said Chicago need some big changes.
“The reality is we need to renovate the team,” de los Cobos said. “We need to make major changes in the team if we are to be better next year.”
Chicago close out their home schedule on Saturday, hosting MLS cellar-dwellers D.C. United. They need to come out with a much stronger mentality than they did on Tuesday or they’ll risk getting embarrassed by the league’s worst team.
“It’s unfortunate that we could walk away with this season not having any good performances,” Brown said. “I mean, I don’t think there are any signs this year of good soccer for us. We stunk it up pretty bad.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.