Modern Spongebob is heavily criticized. Some of it is reasonable. The animation is frantic, the narratives are unrealistic, and the gags aren’t as witty as they once were.
On the other hand, it’s not nearly as awful as some claim. Every now and again, a fresh episode of the series will produce a magical moment.
Spongebob mentions in one moment how Mr. Krabs frequently says, “It’s now or never!” Patrick inquires as to when Krabs normally says it, to which Spongebob responds that it is anytime he is ready to use the men’s room.
Although it is intended to elicit a giggle from viewers, that joke is not the most amusing element. That line primarily serves to build up a future humor.
Spongebob and Patrick have fallen off a cliff for context. An unknown fish is going to enter an outhouse on the earth below. Before he does so, he tells himself, “It’s now or never!” Spongebob and Patrick then fly into the outhouse from above.
The section isn’t even ended yet, because the fish later has to explain what occurred, so he flashes back to when he exclaimed “it’s now or never!” before the two major characters fell on him.
It’s not the cleverest joke, and I’m not even sure it’s a joke at all, but it’s hilarious.
So, as you read this, you may be wondering, “What the hell does this have to do with the Chicago Fire?” They’ve ended up in a same scenario as the previous fish.
It’s also now or never for them.
Setting the table
Chicago should be commended for placing itself in a good position.
The franchise appeared to be on the point of collapse before to their recent road trip. They weren’t getting results, their players were suffering, and they had been humiliated in the U.S. Open Cup.
Fortunately for the Fire, the international break provided much-needed rest. That proved crucial, as the squad won two big away games after returning to action, against the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City. The journey concluded with a loss to Orlando City, although that didn’t really matter.
The previous victories not only propelled Chicago up the standings but also gave them new vigor. There was a different spirit, and the fandom was once again upbeat.
The time was also crucial. The Fire now had a homestand ahead of them, with three games at Soldier Field in a week. The latter two were extremely important because they faced direct playoff opponents in the Eastern Conference.
But first, there was a game against the highly excellent Nashville SC. Given the opposition’s position in the standings, this was a significant obstacle. However, Chicago received significant help when mainstay center-back Walker Zimmerman was suspended and superstar striker Hany Mukhtar was rested on the bench.
The Fire capitalized on their good fortune, winning 1-0 thanks to another goal from Fabian Herbers, who now has three goals in his previous four games. It wasn’t beautiful, but it didn’t have to be. The squad did everything possible to secure the victory.
This performance, combined with other outcomes, put Chicago right in the thick of the playoff race. They finished the night deadlocked for the ninth and last postseason slot, missing out only due to the tiebreaker of most victories.
One down, two to go
All of this leads us to today, a random Monday in the middle of summer.
Come on down, CF Montréal; you’re the next competitor on the Fire’s redemption journey.
Chicago hosts Montréal on Wednesday, and it’s a crucial game.
To begin with, it’s a midweek game, and there always seems to be something strange about the air when a game is played on a weekday. This is especially true in the MLS, which is already a strange league.
Then there’s the fact that the game will feature two highly erratic teams.
Many predicted that Montréal would be terrible this season after losing several key players and their coach in the offseason, and those predictions appeared to be correct at first, as they only won one of their first seven games.
They subsequently went on a run, which propelled them back up the standings. They appeared to have resolved the situation. However, there was a false dawn, as the Canadian team struggled again. They’ve been really hot and cold since then, with no wins in their previous three games.
Chicago isn’t as streaky, but their individual outcomes are equally uncertain. As previously said, despite being notoriously awful on the road, they beat the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City. On the other side, they struggle to maintain a lead, especially at home.
Throw those squads together on a Wednesday night, and mayhem is practically guaranteed.
If/when the Fire win that game, they will host neighboring Canadian club Toronto FC. They’ve been very steady this year, with the exception of being continuously poor.
Toronto is the league’s third-worst squad, which is incredible given that they have two absolute superstars Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi. They haven’t won in their last eight games and have lost five in a row.
That has to be good for Chicago, right? It is, indeed. However, there is still a risk associated with this.
Remember how I said the MLS can be a strange league at times? What could be funnier than Toronto actually sorting things out for a game and performing admirably against the Fire? It would almost certainly be enough to secure the victory, and it would utterly astound the Chicago players, staff, and supporters.
However, there is a much greater risk that they will thoroughly stink the bed, as they always do. The roster is flawed, and nothing has changed even after head coach Bob Bradley was sacked.
All of this implies that the Fire have two very winnable games ahead of them. That’s fantastic because they could use the two victories.
It’s the ideal storm.
Chicago is on the verge of breaking into the postseason picture, with two home games against direct rivals and two games against clubs they can easily beat.
Six points from six games would put the Fire right in the thick of the playoffs. The timing of that move is critical, as it would occur before the League Cup break, and there would not be much time left in the season to drop back down.
However, because of the circumstance, any loss of points may be disastrous. A hypothetical Montréal win would widen the distance between the two teams, and while it wouldn’t be a massive one, the mental impact would be devastating to Chicago’s momentum. In the meantime, failing to beat Toronto would only help everyone else in the East.
The Fire may be on the verge of running out of time to save themselves at that point. They’d have must-win games down the stretch, and everyone knows how the squad performs in those situations.
So, to summarize, it’s now or never for Chicago.