Just a few random thoughts at the end of a busy month in soccer...
Fire on ice:
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The Fire's next MLS game, Aug. 3 against Philadelphia, might not be do-or-die game, it might be do or fade away.
The club had a very good showing against mighty Manchester United, but that means nothing when it gets back to league play.
The Fire is tied for eighth place out of nine in the Eastern Conference, 13 points out of first with 14 games to play. Time is running out. The Fire needs to start winning, which no doubt was the thinking behind signing 35-year-old midfielder Pavel Pardo of Mexico.
If not, the Fire is doomed to a second consecutive season out of the playoffs, and owner Andrew Hauptman and Andell Holdings' Javier Leon must ask themselves how they can turn around this once-proud franchise.
The club has undergone a great deal of change in their four years of leadership -- four coaches, including current interim coach Frank Klopas, three team presidents, not to mention all the change on the field -- but Hauptman and Leon need to decide if they have the right formula now. If the answer is no, more change will be coming in the off-season.
Now that Manchester United has blown through town, what will the Fire keep as a souvenir?
It likely means a good payday, filling Soldier Field with 60,000 paying customers.
But many of those fans still don't know the way to Toyota Park, and many of them still have no use for the domestic league, especially a last-place team in the domestic league.
"It's helped to sell season tickets," Fire president Julian Posada said last week. "It has helped us get the attention of more corporate sponsors because while everybody in America might not know Manchester United, those that do understand the sheer magnitude of who they are. So it's helped us on that front."
The Fire included Manchester United tickets in its season-ticket packages, but that doesn't necessarily mean fans will go to Toyota Park to see, say, the Philadelphia Union. And it doesn't mean those fans will renew their season tickets for next season.
That depends on the sales job the team does on the field and in the front office.
Then there's the push for corporate sponsors, possibly even a jersey sponsor, which the Fire has been without all season after losing Best Buy. Posada said Manchester United is helping with that too, though an announcement is not imminent.
"It has definitely allowed us to open more doors and have more serious conversations," Posada said.
Posada will really have something to talk about if the team starts winning again.
"Yes, winning helps a lot of things," he said.
The way FC Dallas' Brek Shea is playing this season, it sure would be nice to see him get a call-up to the national team when it plays Mexico in a friendly Aug. 10.