The Fire continued their increasingly frustrating habit of dropping points at home. This 1-1 draw against FC Dallas opens up more questions and problems for Carlos De Los Cobos and Frank Klopas. The first half saw the Fire control possesion and create more opportunities than FC Dallas. The second half was controlled by the Hoops although neither team played particularly well.
The Fire could have easily scored three goals in the first half. Mike Banner missed an absolute sitter on a cross from Justin Mapp and Baggio Husidic had a header deflected away on a cross from Mike Banner. The lone goal scored by Brian McBride on a beautiful ball from Justin Mapp easily could have been called offsides. FC Dallas also had two scores nullified by offsides calls.
De Los Cobos decided to start a 4-4-2 line-up with Patrick Nyarko and Brian McBride up top. Mapp started on the left wing while Banner began on the right. Baggio Husidic and Logan Pause manned the central midfield.
The line-up changed in the 57th minute when Justin Mapp was subbed out for Collins John. Mapp was probably the Fire's most effective crosser and playmaker in the first half so the change was curious. "I thought Mapp was tiring" said De Los Cobos after the match. When asked if he was tired at the time of the substitution, Mapp responded "No, I felt alright. I wasn't any more tired than the anyone else out there."
The insertion of John moved Nyarko to the right midfield spot and created a little more space for Nyarko to operate in but little resulted from the move. Marco Pappa came on for Banner in the 68th minute. "Pappa has not performed well recently" said De Los Cobos "He's a player that I expect more from because he's very talented but he hasn't given what I think he can give".
De Los Cobos' tinkering and formation changes have also caused some uncertainty and confusion while failing to foster any consistency due to the numerous changes. The McBride/John combination up front will not work if some quality isn't established in terms of service from the midfield. De Los Cobos also commented on John during his post game address, "The reality is Collins hasn't given us what we think he can."
John feels that the pairing with McBride needs to be given some time to gel. "I think everybody can agree we had a terrible game today. I guess at one time we were playing one up (one forward) and we were winning games so why would the manager change that? Nobody would change that. I guess I have to be patient and wait for my chance and grab it."
CJ Brown summed up the game best. "We're not finishing games. We're not winning games. We're playing. We're out there. It's not what it should be. Whether the guys are tired, hurt, whatever.....it's not getting done. One point is not acceptable against Dallas at home. It's frustrating. You expect a little more from this group and we're not getting it right now".
GK Andrew Dykstra (5) - Only allowed one goal but it was Dallas' only great chance of the match. Wasn't tested much.
D Krzyzstof Krol (6) - Fair match included some decent exchanges with Banner on the wing in the first half. Handled Cunningham and Atiba Harris on the right side for FCD.
D Dasan Robinson (4) - Struggled with Brek Shea in the second half and provided zero support for the midfield going forward.
D Wilman Conde (4) - Conde's errors seem to be increasing of late. The first Dallas goal was a result of a bad touch followed by a fall leading to Ferreira's strike.
D CJ Brown (5) - Ran by Ferreira while on the way to the goal but otherwise okay.
M Logan Pause (5) - Did his job as Dallas did not threaten much either. The problem with Pause in the 4-4-2 formation with this current squad is that the central midfield spot is so ineffective offensively that another player focused solely on defense makes the hole in the middle even more glaring.
M Baggio Husidic (4) - Missed a chance to score when his header was knocked away in the 21st minute. Was largely invisible in the second half.
M Mike Banner (3) - Provided a good cross to Husidic that easily good have been a goal. His missed sitter from one yard out was inexplicable. So was his backward shot from inside the area in the second half before being subbed out in the 68th minute. Also skied a free kick from 22 yards out that wasn't anywhere near close.
M Justin Mapp (7) - Create several opportunities before being subbed off in the 57th minute. Created a chance for a penalty call in the 2nd minute, a free kick opportunity at the top of the box in the 22nd minute, the cross to Banner which should have been converted, and the service on McBride's goal.
F Patrick Nyarko (5) - Started at forward and moved to right mid in the second half. Some flashes of danger but not much. Passing left something to be desired today.
F Brian McBride (6) - Scored on a signature header and provided a great pass to Mapp leading to the Banner miss. Also worked hard in the midfield in an attempt to fill the Fire's gaping hole in the middle of the pitch.
F Collins John (4) - At some point he needs to start producing. Can he do it with the limited service provided from midfield?
M Marco Pappa (4) - Came on in the 68th minute for Banner. Expected to make an impact and was barely noticeable.
Ref Baldomero Toledo (4) - MLS refs wear me out.
This year's version of the Fire will be nothing more than frustrating until a playmaking midfielder is acquired after the transfer window opens. De Los Cobos addressed the teams inability to create (with the exception of Nyarko) during his post game press conference. You can listen to the entire DLC post game press conference here.
A right back would also be nice.