So last night's 1-0 loss to Houston was disappointing. But it wasn't all bad. In fact, I thought that the Fire played pretty well. They attacked nicely and (with the exception of the opening 4 minutes) played solid defense. Unfortunately, the inability to finish off one of their many chances cost the Fire big time, giving them their second home loss in a row.
"We created enough chances to get a goal and we didn't," said Fire Head Coach Denis Hamlett. "That's sometimes how it goes but we have to be a little bit more clinical in the final third."
While that's somewhat of an understatement, Hamlett has it right. The Fire created the most chances that they have in a long time, but for some reason the ball was just not finding the back of the net.
The Fire, who were missing four starters due to international duty/injury, will look to bounce back and put an end to their skid next Saturday, when they travel to Washington to take on
Here are a few more thoughts I had on the match.
Center Back Depth:
Despite the loss, I thought that back-four fill-ins C.J. Brown and Dasan Robinson played decent. Both did a nice job defending Houston's forwards and there was seldom a 50-50 ball that they didn't get to.
"I thought C.J. and Dasan did well against two very active forwards," said Fire goalie Jon Busch. "[Houston's forwards] aren't easy to deal with and they really didn't have anything outside of [the goal]."
Unfortunately though, there was the goal. And regardless of how good the Fire's depth is, it only took that one play to show that the team still misses normal center backs Bakary Soumare and Wilman Conde.
What's up with the home form?
For some reason, the Fire have been unable to perform at Toyota Park this season. Friday's loss drops them to 1-2-3 on the year at home, with the lone win coming in the home opener on April 5th.
"Honestly I have no idea what's wrong," said Busch on the Fire's home form. "Minus [the FC Dallas] game, we've played very well every game... For whatever reason though we're not finishing games off at home where we are on the road."
An Iffy Substitution:
I was not too happy when Denis Hamlett pulled Marco Pappa off the field last night. I thought that the young Guatemalan was easily the Fire's best attacker, and after his 77th minute departure the Fire lost a little bit of their steam in the attack.
Yes, Pappa was likely a bit tired, but after only playing 25 minutes on Sunday you would think that Hamlett would let his best attacking player on the night go the full 90.
I give a big thumbs up to the crowd at Toyota Park last night. At 13,264 the crowd was not only the biggest it's been all year but also the loudest. And you have to love the flares going off in Section 8. That was pretty cool.
Check back later on for some coverage of tonight's USA vs. Honduras match.