The Fire hung on in the second half to beat New England 1-0. After a fair first half effort the Fire were content to sit back and protect the lead. Although bunkering seldom works and often results in dropped points the Revolution just do not have the finishing talent to make anyone pay for giving up way too much possesion and 12 corner kicks. That being said, road wins are valuable and it was a good sign that the Fire was able to beat a team that they should beat.
Justin Mapp was scratched during pre-game warm ups due to an injury and Mike Banner replaced him in the starting eleven. During the broadcast Chris Doran mentioned that he would prefer to see Pappa in the middle with Nyarko on the right and Banner on the left. I agreed with this proposed alignment although Pappa scored the only goal of the match shortly after Doran's assessment.
GK Andrew Dykstra (6) - Muffed a few clearances but for the most part I thought he was more in charge and aggessive in the box than in previous matches. Not called upon to make many difficult saves since the Revolution shooters could not find the net.
D Dasan Robinson (7) - Good effort from Robinson and he even managed to get forward a bit. Give away in the 75th minute gave Perovic a look at goal.
D CJ Brown (7) - Controlled the penalty area. New England was not dangerous in the box and most of their attempts came from distance. Not many clear chances for the Revs despite twelve corner kicks. Brown took charge vocally by all accounts.
D Wilman Conde (6) - Better in this game since there were no gaffes leading to opposition scores although a lazy giveaway in the 22nd minute was almost disastrous.
D Kryzystof Krol (7) - Solid along with the rest of the back line absorbing pressure for the entire second half. Not much from Nyassi on his side.
M Logan Pause (6) - Pause's distribution forward in the first half was actually pretty good. Got beat by Schilawski on a corner kick header that luckily resulted in a wide shot attempt. A giveaway in the 28th minute almost lead to a Perovic goal.
M Baggio Husidic (5) - His most active moment came in the 27th minute as his header was just high of Reis' net. Left in the 38th minute with an injury.
M Marco Pappa (6) - Like just about everyone else on the team, his first half was miles better than the second. Pappa's laser from 30 yards will get another Goal of the Week nomination. Most of his goals are highlight reel material. Played on the right side for the entire match which doesn't allow him to cross since he is only dangerous going left but he keeps finding opportunities to shoot on goal.....a good thing.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Not much from Nyarko today. Probably his least effective effort of the season so far. It may have been the turf or the heat (or a combination of both) but he was subbed out in the 70th minute and looked gassed.
M Mike Banner (5) - Managed to generate a couple of corner kicks opportunities but Banner looked lost playing in the middle of the pitch in place of Mapp. I would have preferred to see Corben Bone get the nod ahead of Banner.
F Brian McBride (6) - Looked more lively in the first half before being subbed out late. Several headers were just wide and his shot in the 43rd minute was cleared off the line by New England.
M Peter Lowry (5) - Came on for Husidic in the 38th minute and played a decent match although New England enjoyed way too much possesion in the midfield.
M Deris Umanzor (5) - Subbed in for Nyarko in the 70th minute. Umanzor played in midfield in the Sister Cities Cup and resumed that role today. Not bad but not good either.
F Stefan Dimitrov (5) - Came on for McBride in the 83rd minute. Managed to get a header off but it was not dangerous.
Once again the camera work was awful. During one point in the second half the camera focused on CJ Brown jogging forward in the box for several seconds while Patrick Nyarko tore up the left sideline to create a possible scoring opportunity. McBride's pass to Nyarko setting up the play was missed entirely as was the majority of the run forward.
The post game show featured interviews with Robinson, Dykstra, Pause, and Frank Klopas. That part of the program was much better than previous broadcasts.
Doran also alluded to the possible return of Cuauhtemoc Blanco. Although it's mostly speculation at this point, the lack of buzz or talk regarding the Fire's pursuit of designated players seems to indicate to me that we may see Blanco back in red come July 15.
Doran and Kelly also made no mention of Collins John not being with the team. That's a pretty big oversight for a guy that was supposed to be the big offseason acquisition.
US Open Cup
The Fire return to action in US Open Cup play on Tuesday night. The Charleston Battery will visit Toyota Park and it will be interesting to see what kind of line-up De Los Cobos fields on a short turnaround. Will we see rookies Bone and Watson-Siriboe, Umanzor and Dimitrov? Or will De Los Cobos field the usual starters hoping to avoid any slip ups in pursuit of the Open Cup trophy?