Chicago Fire’s Matt Watson on Art, Veganism & Playing for a Living

It’s a Monday night and I’m sitting in the Chicago Diner with Matt Watson, the English midfielder with the Chicago Fire a month or so into his second year playing the club. We’re at Chicago Diner — perhaps the city’s premier meat-free eatery — because Watson is a vegan and has been meaning to try it out since moving here from Vancouver last March. But at present it is a bit of a fool’s errand, as our conversation has gotten off to a running start, and Watson has hardly had a moment to pause and bite into his Buddha’s Karma Burger, a curried sweet potato sandwich that captured his attention straightaway.

It seems though that whenever I let up with my questions to give him a chance to eat, Watson still has something more to say. He’s a gregarious person; curious, open, funny, all in ways that one doesn’t expect to find in a professional athlete. It’s quite refreshing honestly, and so the conversation just keeps flowing. Before the end of the night we’ve covered serious ground — not unlike Watson does on the pitch — chasing topics in every direction from discussing our mutual love for “The Walking Dead,” to heady talk about whether art and souls actually exist, even stopping briefly to figure out what is going on with Jay Electronica’s rap career (Watson has had to give up on the underground sensation ever releasing a proper album).

Continue reading

Chicago Fire Keep Winning Streak Alive

As anyone who has seen Vegas Vacation, The Godfather Part III, or Blues Brothers 2000 can likely attest, taking time away from something that had been great can make the act of returning to it a rather painful experience. These trepidations were no doubt a feeling shared by many as the Chicago Fire took to the field last Friday after a full 20-day spell in the dry dock. The Men In Red had begun to form into a cohesive unit in the matches prior to the unintended hiatus, leading several people to speculate that the squad’s progress would be undone in the fallow period. The naysayers were proven wrong in the end, as the night saw the Fire put on quite a show for their soccer-starved fans, rolling to a 1-0 victory over the visiting New York City FC. David Accam opened his scoring account with the team, and nearly came close to netting his first hat trick as well.

The result can be credited to a wide variety of factors beyond simply that of the Fire outplaying NYCFC. For one thing, New York were without starters David Villa and goalkeeper Josh Saunders, two big difference makers for the side. Second, the Fire played nearly the 2/3rds of the match with a man advantage after Andrew Jacobson was sent off in the 24th minute for fouling David Accam on a breakaway. Despite these advantages Chicago were still only able to manage a one goal performance, which nearly slipped away at the end of the game. That the Fire were held to such a parsimonious lead was, quite simply, because NYCFC keeper Ryan Meara had an absolutely sensational night between the sticks–save for his lone gaffe that led to David Accam’s goal–which called to mind the performance put on by Tim Howard at last year’s World Cup in the USMNT’s match against Belgium. The second best defensive performance on the night came not from the NYCFC defense, but from the uprights of the goal itself, as the Fire struck woodwork 3 times in most convincing fashion.

Continue reading

Chicago Fire Facing An Empty April

In Newtonian physics one of the basest principles governing movement states that an object in motion will remain in that state unless acted upon by an equal and opposite force. With the Chicago Fire gaining momentum, finally fielding a fully-fit side and cruising to their second win in a row, things appeared to be auguring in their favor. That is to say, unless something should arise and put a stop to their forward progress, significantly altering the team’s trajectory.

There was already going to be a minor speed bump along the way, with Chicago and the New England Revolution electing to reschedule their April 15th match, as it coincided with the ever-popular USA-Mexico international friendly happening on the same day. The bye-week for the Men In Red would lighten a congested week, allowing them more time to maintain match fitness before they were to head to Montreal on April 18th to face the Impact.

Continue reading

A.V. Club Podmass 04.06.15

It’s all comedy and drugs this week as I wrote about Thomas Middleditch’s phenomenal Comedy Bang! Bang! debut, the brand new Paul F. Tompkins improv showcase Spontaneanation, Duncan Trussell’s MDMA discussion on The Duncan Trussell Family Hour, and a Bill Maher interview on the Swedish podcast Varvert International. In all a great week of shows.

Continue reading

Chicago Fire: On Gaining Through Losing

Would it be foolish to suggest that there is power to be found in defeat? That one learns more about themselves in agony than in ecstasy? Consider that the Chicago Fire have started their season on what is being called an historic low—for the team, at least—scoring only one goal in three matches, and tallying a whopping zero points, of a possible nine, going 0-3-0. It is surely a situation which has caused much hand-wringing and disparaged thinking. But it should, first and foremost, be viewed in context: of the team, of the season, and of the league, as a way of seeing things fully.

Think of it this way: to lose in a knockout tournament, like the current NCAA March Madness basketball competition, means no more play, straight up game over, go home, have a nice life. But a loss in the regular season is a signal, saying things aren’t working, reformulate, try harder. And it is there, in that distinction that one finds the crucial kernel, that of hopeful experimentation. That a team can achieve better, and that it fully intends to do so. Make no mistake, the Chicago Fire are not some Bialystock and Bloom production of Springtime For Hitler, they are a going concern.

Continue reading