Fire vs. FCD: Player Evaluations (with a little more analysis too...)

As I'm sure all of you already know, the Chicago Fire were dismantled by FC Dallas yesterday, losing to the 7th place Western Conference side 3-0.  

The result came as a big time disappointment for the Fire, who were undefeated on the season and were coming off of Thursday night's 3-2 comeback victory over league leaders Chivas USA.

One specific thing that I found to be disconcerting in yesterday's match was the Fire's poor marking on crossed balls and set pieces.  In particular, two instances stick out.  One was on a corner kick that found Dax McCarty completely unmarked 10 yards from goal.  Fortunately for the Fire the ball was just a little behind McCarty and he was unable to generate enough power on his header to get it by Jon Busch.   The other incident found Kenny Cooper wide open on a cross.  Again, the Fire were a little lucky, as Cooper was unable to finish his chance and the poor marking didn't cost the Fire.  Hopefully the Fire will be able to sort out their marking issues before Friday's match against Houston.

Here are some thoughts on the individual Fire players.
GK - Jon Busch - 6
Despite allowing three goals, Busch didn't play that bad.  He made several nice saves in the match and really none of FCD's three tallies were his fault.

DEF - Tim Ward - 6
Despite being part of the defense that gave up three goals, Ward really didn't play that bad of a match.  As always, Ward integrated himself into the attack nicely and even hit the post on a shot.  His defense wasn't bad either.

DEF - Bakary Soumare - 6
It was nice to see Soumare start to get back on the right track after a couple of rough matches.  He was playing well and made a couple very nice tackles in the area.  Then the red card happened... whoops.

DEF - C.J. Brown - 5
C.J. Brown made his first start of the season on Sunday, and it was a bit of a struggle for the veteran.  Before leaving the match with a back injury, Brown scored an own goal on a ball that really should have been an easy clearance.

DEF - Brandon Prideaux - 6
Prideaux did not play nearly as well against FC Dallas as he did in his recent starts against Toronto and New England but all in all did not play a horrible match.  He certainly did not stand out however.

MID - Logan Pause - 5
Pause didn't play with his usual defensive prowess on Sunday against FCD.  He was outmuscled to the ball by Jeff Cunningham when the Dallas forward scored his 15th minute goal, which really set the tone for the remainder of the game.

MID - John Thorrington - 7
I thought Thorrington (like Soumare) got back on the right track after displaying a recent run of poor form during Sunday's match.  I thought he distributed the ball in the midfield well and his shot was cruelly denied by the post late in the match.

MID - Chris Rolfe - 5
As some of you have noted in comments section of the previous post, Rolfe was placed into Cuauhtemoc Blanco's "playmaker" role for the match on Sunday.  Unfortunately for him and for the Fire, Rolfe struggled in the role, unable to really create anything in the attack before he was subbed out in the 67th minute for Mike Banner.

MID - Justin Mapp - 6
Mapp returned to the starting lineup for the first time since the San Jose match on April 11th and played relatively well.  His corners and set pieces were pretty good, one that stands out was a corner kick that Brian McBride narrowly missed scoring on.

FWD - Brian McBride - 6
With Cuauhtemoc Blanco out of the lineup, the Fire captain played a slightly larger role in facilitating the attack.  He did a relatively nice job, but we've come to expect more than what we've been getting lately from the Arlington Heights native.

FWD - Patrick Nyarko - 5
Nyarko certainly played better than he did in his last start, against Toronto FC and he did stretch out the Dallas defense a little bit, but in the end he (like all of the other Fire players) failed to really put a positive mark on the game.

MID - Marco Pappa - 5
After coming in for C.J. Brown, regular starter Pappa made a contribution to the match, but failed to create too much in the Fire's attack.

MID - Mike Banner - 4
This wasn't Banner's best game, and he has certainly made more of an impact as a substitute, but given the limited amount of time he was in and the Fire's deficit, one can't really blame him.

MID - Baggio Husidic - 4
The UIC product made his second appearance of the season against FCD, but for the most part failed to really get himself to the match, but to his credit, the circumstances under which he came in weren't exactly ideal.


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  • Finally found the new Fire blog, looking forward to it Sam. Glad you are doing player ratings, always have liked these...Even though I think it's amazing that your back line is averaging nearly a 6 while giving up 3 goals. I would think it'd be closer to a 3 or 5 average?

    like i said, looking forward to reading your should be displayed and advertised on the trib website better as i usually access these blogs via the blog section. of course you probably are well aware of this, but...

  • Ok - I've got to be honest before as a precursor in regards to the fact that I've always found these player rankings to be a commentary by folks who've never played soccer and have never been big on them. Hope you prove to be the exception Sam.

    With all the commentary and analysis, I think everyone missed the single biggest probelm there is: outside of the primary first team & usual subs, there is simply no chemistry on the pitch. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

    What does that look like? How about Thorrington turning the ball over in bad situations more times than I can count because he's trying to break a counter solo instead of utilizing his mates. Or wingers not looking for BMB in the box when he's wide open, instead electing to attempt to break down the defense 1-on-1. Or simply just the inability to finish good chances. There were 3 legit goal-scoring opportunities for the Fire in that game that in my opinion would have normally been finished with the veteran leadership that was forced to be replaced.

    With all that said, I agree with the observation that the marking HAS to get better. Soumare has been horrible, CJ has tons of ring rust, Prideaux is... well, he's Prideaux, and Logan Allen Pause [as the Telefutura guy always calls him] has been holding well but losing his own assignments as of late. For my footballing experience, that's one of two things: zero focus or zero coaching. Either way, it needs to be addressed.

    And finally, I think losing the unbeaten streak is probably the best thing the Fire could have done. No more pressure, no more questions about it - now the focus can be on catching Chivas, whom they have a win against, in the race for the SS.

  • This is easily the best Chicago sports blog I have ever read.

  • Wow. You need a new rubric for grading these players. This one is obviously inflated. That match was a disaster, and you have it as looking slightly above average. For me, I thought Busch looked ok. I thought Ward looked like he put in the effort. Everyone else... meh. Above average? I don't think so!

  • Sam, it was CJs second start of the season - he started against DC and was subbed out in the 16th or 17th minute.

  • I generally agree with the relative strength of the individual perfoamnces but didn't see a single performance out there higher than a 5-6. I didn't think Thorrington brought the energy that everyone else left behind but I don't see anyone else cracking 5 except maybe Busch and Ward.

    It will be a much tougher test on Friday but the Fire are getting a significant break with Ching and Clark being up with the Nats for the match.

    For those at the game on Friday keep your eyes peeled you just might see some familiar faces roaming the concourse. The Nats are in town and coming out to the game wouldn't be out of the question.

  • I love CJ for what he has done for the club during his career but he should have retired before LAST season. Hes just not good enough anymore and cant play the whole 90 as a defender. And why did we rest Segares? Hamlett is Costa Rican and they play the US tomorrow... There was no need to rest him and then have him warm up. If hes hurt dont put him on the bench. Desan should have been in the middle with Baky instead of CJ. Pappa instead of Mapp.

    We have played Dallas at home on Sunday day games and the scores were 4-0 and 3-0. There is nothing worse than a Sunday day game. Atleast we got more than 12,000 to attend. Lets hope Friday gets a good turn out. Doubt it.

  • btw...Conde is listed as Doubtful' for Friday so We'll likely be w/o 3/4 of our starting back line. Yikes.

  • Sam,

    Thanks for the post. I like the idea of individual player ratings, but I think you should publish a list of what each rating means (I'm assuming out of 10)... and also you need to spread it out. Listing everyone between a 4 and 7 doesn't give a very large spread.

    Also on CJ, how can he have possibly earned a 5 when Tim Ward earned a 6? Ward was one of the more dangerous players on the attack, and CJ let in an own-goal.

    Also, CJ was the original captain, but McBride took the arm-band after CJ left. The Fire announced McBride as the Captain, but CJ went to mid-field and started the game as captain.

  • Sorry about the confusion on the player ratings. I understand where you all are coming from.

    Next time I post a player ratings post I will be taking Pestilence's suggestion and posting a list of what each rating means to me along with it.

    So you can look for that coming your way soon.


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