Musings on the Chicago Midwest Melee


by Jason Goodbody

Rivalry week invariably spawns discussions of what to name St Louis CITY SC's burgeoning conflicts with other teams and cities. Around the league we have rivalries with names such as Hell is Real Cup between FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew, the Rocky Mountain Cup between Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake, and the Atlantic Cup which few really know who's in that. There are also competitions that involve three teams like the Cascadia Cup between Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, and the Vancouver Whitecaps as well as El Tráfico, which is the three-way battle between the LA Galaxy, Los Angeles FC, and the 110. The plodding 15 miles of Interstate and State Route 110 has surprised pundits by winning 9 of the last 22 matches including playoffs.

The name that will eventually encapsulate CITY's rivalry with Sporting Kansas is still up for debate and may emerge organically barring any cease and desist letters from SKC's legal office. Our nom de classique with the Chicago Fire is still TBD but I'm liking the Midwest Melee. Another option is a carryover from the St Louis FC days is the Double Nickel Derby, referencing the I-55 route between the two cities. It may take a charity soccer game in February with the winner getting naming rights to lock these in.

That Tifo was fire

Fire, like the powerful atomic breath emanating from a huge irradiated lizard-like metaphor for the horrors of nuclear warfare and the emergence of the United States as the sleeping giant getting pulled into WWII*. Kudos to the Riot Grrrls and Saint Louis City Punks (SLCP)  supporters groups for leading the design and construction of this beaut.

*all depending on which Wikipedia entry you look at

When a handball isn't a handball

When Célio Pompeu was fouled in the 56' and again when João Klauss was pushed in the 65' and again when Aziel Jackson was tripped up in the 85', they tumbled to the ground and before a whistle blew each wrapped their arms around the ball as if an impending foul call was obvious to all….even if it wasn't.

"Foul signaling" is a very interesting piece of sports psychology. Full disclosure; I don't claim to be a sports psychologist, but I did take a semester of psychology (plus a 1 credit lab) in college so I think I'm ok to speak to this. Grabbing the ball after an apparent foul is a lot like flopping, but instead of flailing and overemphasizing contact in a way that makes that one guy you know who doesn't like soccer actually hate soccer, handling the ball this way is risky as it could be called for a handball foul and will make that same guy wonder aloud why the player can just grab the ball like that.

Allow me to explain a bit further:

  1. A player is nudged or clobbered (depending on your perspective) and falls to the ground. As he tumbles, he wraps his arms around the ball, a clear handball foul, right?
  2. But, he wouldn't dare grab the ball unless play was stopped because a foul was called on the other team and, 
  3. He knows that if there were no such infraction, this would be called a handball foul on him. But it shouldn't because he was so obviously fouled.
  4. He knows this. The ref knows this. Everyone knows this.
  5. So he falls, grabs the ball as he tumbles, and the referee is forced to call a foul on the other guy.

And there you have it. The arms race of obfuscation and dishonest signals and lie detection between player and referee continues. Every now and again, to bestow some form of legitimacy to the game, and presumably as part of the recent contract signed between the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) and Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA), you'll see the ref call this a handball.

Scattershot Musings

  • I missed musing on the Houston Dynamo game because I was traveling that weekend. Also as much as the game was mind-numblingly boring, writing about it was the equivalent of a 0-0 tie. I just wanted to get out of there and regroup for this last Saturday. I think it paid off.
  • St Louis CITY remains the only team in MLS with one loss. That sounds awesome. CITY also has more ties than everyone else. Not so awesome. But before you get too frustrated, realize that the 2023 Audi MLS Cup winner and current 8th in the Eastern Conference Columbus Crew has 6 draws (all of them bad ties I'm sure) think we are salty about being middle of the table.
  • With Klauss' brace, it seems like things might be getting back to expected. Klauss has been off by just a few inches all season. He has contributed more "almost scores" than nearly anyone in the MLS. The entire team has been "almost scoring" at a similar clip with 188 shots (2nd in MLS) but with an accurate shot on target percentage of only 31.4% (2nd worse in MLS). Here's hoping the team continues to revert to the mean. When it does, CITY will begin to move its way to the top of the conference.
  • Durkin reportedly ran over 6 miles during that game. I have also run 6 miles before…not all at the same time I don't think. This was a stat flashed with around 15 or so minutes remaining so I'm sure he put a few additional laps on his distance run before the whistle blew. I want to know who keeps these stats, why they aren't continuously displayed, and see who runs the least per 90' in the league.
  • Rasmus Alm with the fastest goal in team history at 1:25 nearly opened up a cascade of scoring with Indiana Vassilev taking a dangerous shot just wide of goal even before the celebratory chants ended. Chicago did eventually get their act together, equalizing just after the break, but then folded in the second half. It speaks well of what this team is capable of. Incidentally, Alm has the best record contribution on the team, that is, CITY does better when he is playing. Tom Timmerman has the stats and I'll encourage you to read his piece in the St Louis Post Dispatch.  Also watch Moneyball and you'll get it. Alm gets on base.

To all the soccer moms out there. Without the taxi service, orange slices, drinks around the hotel pool on weekend tourneys, screams heard across a half a dozen fields, the post-game words of encouragement, stepping in as coach, team manager, conflict mediator, and medic, none of this would be possible. #happymothersday

See you next time.  #AllForCITY

Check out musings from the Kansas match. 

Photos courtesy of St Louis City SC and Jason Patrylo