The Tragedy of Chris Rolfe

The Chicago Fire shipped Chris Rolfe to DC United. And…it’s a form of news. In that something happened. Now, this could be put in extraordinarily harsh terms (e.g. “Chicago Bench-Warmer Moves East to Warm a New Bench”). Even in its brightest light, the trade reads like DC United head coach Ben Olsen gambling on another league veteran to assist with his clubs (currently-, presently-, and in all other ways faltering) 2014 turn-around.

The story plays out as a question for now – an article on the Mothership frames it as whether he’ll spark DC’s attack (while quietly answering…”eh, doubt it”) – but it could just as easily present as a tragedy.

Before the years in Denmark, Rolfe was a marquee player in this league. At worst, most people could see his name slipped at the bottom of the lighted sign with a “feat.” in front of it. I’m still waiting for DC to update his player bio (jesus. does that team do anything right?), which leaves out the latest, but the ESPN’s player bio for him includes Rolfe’s glory years: 2007-2009, roughly. The 25 goals he scored in those seasons (some pretty sexy things in there, too…well, sorta; nice soundtrack, though) punched his ticket to the Danish Superliga and got him fitted for a U.S. Men’s jersey of his very own (10 caps, people. 10).

Less than 10 years ago, then, “Rolfe” was a name the opposition game-planned around. (NOTE: Uncomfortable with that verb, “game-plan.”) While he’s on the wrong side of 30, he’s not far on the wrong side of it, and he’s logged a respectable career; yet it’s unlikely that Chicago’s brain trust lost any sleep over this trade, at least not on the playing field (though I do hope the thought that moving really, really sucks at least flitted across their minds).

The article linked to above (that one, 2nd paragraph) speaks to a respectable 2012 (8 goals; more video). Everyone seems to agree that 2013 wasn’t the best, but 2012 was OK. That’s not what I remember, though, even if I have to confess to not watching Chicago all that closely; something about some outsized share of those 5 goals being PKs comes to me, could be a lie, but that’s what comes. And, uh, I’m wrong…at any rate…

Something about a once-great player shipping off to last year’s league train-wreck, especially one infamous for failing to score, seems a little fucked up. By that I mean, it seems like something that’s not really going to work out and that’s a thought that just about all involved have surely entertained.

Now, personally, I hope Rolfe does swell. I’ve always liked him as a player and I’m no fan of seeing people fail (it’s bad television, for one). Last week went brighter for DC – or, judging by that opening goal, it seemed to, especially given the contrast with DC’s shitty season opener – but the stench of cluelessness hasn’t really evaporated. And that’s where Rolfe is going. Just seems like a crappy way to fill in the next year in his player bio…assuming DC ever gets that thing up there.


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