Fire 2 Rapids 2 Game Recap and Player Ratings

The Fire continue to struggle at home despite outplaying Colorado for large portions of the match.  Two defensive lapses resulted in two Colorado goals while Matt Pickens performed heroically in net for the Rapids.  The constant and repetitive mistakes resulting from a lack of concentration is grating on both fans and the organization. 

Carlos De Los Cobos responded to questions about discipline after the game, "We are not learning the lessons in soccer that we need to learn.  If you lose concentration for one second you have a problem."  said De Los Cobos.  "I'm not happy because we had three points in our pocket.  We lost two points (that were) very important for us".

The Fire played not lose and dropped back allowing Colorado to control possesion in the late stages of the match and they paid for it with another careless mistake.  Wilman Conde continues to struggle with glaringly bad turnovers and careless marking.  Conde's contractual situation makes one wonder if an off field issue is weighing on him since he appears to be a player performing with his mind elsewhere. 

Andrew Dykstra addressed the lack of communication when asked about the second goal, "We just flat out didn't mark up.  Left back was missing and Conde didn't make a play.  I have to look at the film maybye there's something different I could have done but that's just a mental lapse, mental toughness.  We have to stick it out in the last couple minutes of a game" said Dykstra. 

The Fire now has over two weeks to mull a disappointing three game home stretch that saw the team collect only 5 of a possible 9 points.  We can talk about central midfield and designated players all we want but until the excruciating mental defensive lapses cease things are not likely to change. 

Player Ratings

GK Andrew Dykstra (5) - Was not called upon to do much but needs to be more vocal with defenders in addressing situations like the game tying goal.  There was not much Dykstra could have done on the goal.  Jamie Smith delivered a cross with a clean look at goal and there were actually TWO Rapids attackers unmarked in the box on the play. 

D Dasan Robinson (5) - Did not play badly but provides little to no support going forward. 

D CJ Brown (6) - Stepped up and stopped several Colorado advances.  Brown was one of the few defenders to actually mark someone in a blue shirt on the tying goal. 

D Krzysztof Krol (5) - Was fair for about 89 minutes then got caught absolutely flat footed and marking noone while Casey tied the match. 

D Wiman Conde (4) - An excellent service to McBride in the 63rd minute that resulted in a header forcing Pickens into a difficult save keeps this from being lower.  Conde's slip and fall with noone near him directly resulted in the first Colorado goal.  Cummings also got behind him in the 71st minute on his way to banging a shot against the inside of the far post that easily could have been a goal.  His marking on the tying goal is inexcusable for a player of his quality.  His contract situation needs to be addressed soon or he could have one foot out the door already.

M Logan Pause (5) - Did what he does, steady, no mistakes, but no real threat going forward. 

M Baggio Husidic (6) - Provided the assist on Pappa's first goal with a chest trap and pass where his teammate could bury the shot.  Not spectacular but I still maintain that Husidic can be a solid MLS contributor. 

M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Hit the crossbar in the 9th minute and forced Pickens into a huge save in the 32nd minute.  Gave Wynne fits again on the left side of the pitch. 

M Justin Mapp (5) - Not as active in the offensive end as he had been in the previous few matches but was still effective nonetheless.  Mapp even tracked back and defended on a few occasions.  Should not have been subbed out for Banner.

M Marco Pappa (7) - He seems to have played his way out of the dog house with his effort in the last two matches.  Pappa is the Fire's best and most spectacular finisher.  Served the cross into Nyarko in the 32nd minute which resulted in the Pickens save.

F Brian McBride (6) - Provided a well placed header to Husidic on the Fire's first goal.  Also could have easily scored in the 63rd minute if not for a diving save from Pickens.  The team seemed to lose something upon his departure in the 65th minute.

F Collins John (4) - First match back after missing time with an illness.  Didn't provide much of anything but the Fire inexplicably went into a shell with 20 minutes remaining which didn't allow him much opportunity.

M Mike Banner (4) - Came on in the 73rd minute for Mapp.  Banner was the other player standing flat footed in the box watching Casey tie the game. 

Wrap Up

This match is a frustrating and difficult one to assess since the Fire did outplay the opponent for a good portion of the ninety minutes.  The attitude, attention to detail and urgency of this squad must change quickly.

Fire Confidential Podcast

The latest podcast includes De Los Cobos' post game press conference and comments from  Brian McBride, Baggio Husidic, Patrick Nyarko, and Andrew Dykstra.  To listen click here.



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  • Was driving back from the Quad Cities last night. Of course they were talking about the Hawks and what the game meant to people. One guy called in and said he was pumped but his friends were going to the Fire game and he couldn't believe it. I'm glad they won last night so the created hype can die down a bit and more attention will be given to the US-England game. Amazingly, there's not much been much talk of the Chicago Cup (Cubs-Sox) this weekend. I'm not optimistic about local coverage unless the US makes a run.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Does local coverage matter when you have national coverage?

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Sorry. I have a bad case of the soccer fan inferiority complex. To see this manufactured hype for the Blackhawks drives me insane. The Trib is making separate sections for the team and analyzing why there are Chicagoans (mainly minorities) that aren't hockey fans. As if it's some civic duty to jump on the Hawks bandwagon. But, poor attendance or ratings for soccer events is always attributed to the inherent inability of Americans to accept the game. Soccer has a much larger POTENTIAL fanbase than hockey in this city and in the country in general. My wife's company let everyone dress casual yesterday to get fired up for the Hawks game. They hand out stadium snacks (peanuts, crackerjack...) on baseball opening day. Anything for the World Cup? I don't think so and it makes me more insane than the people that park in the fire lane at the supermarket.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    I still maintain that the Blackhawks core fan base isn't much greater in numbers than the Fire's. The big difference is that the Hawks have a longer history to draw from while attracting old and new fans. The Hawks front office has been masterful at tapping that history by manipulating and creating the media buzz.

    The Fire has a much larger potential fan base since there are millions of soccer fans who aren't necessarily MLS or Fire supporters. Unfortunately the media seems to be scared of all the perceived "foreigners" and their "foreign" game. It's starting to change slowly but it won't happen overnight.

  • In reply to cesba:

    There was a recent Trib article that had a graphic that listed what percent of Chicagoans had attended or watched each of the teams. The Bears and Cubs were way up. The Hawks had a huge increase from when they last did the study. The Fire had 9%. That means 1 out of 10 had an experience. I was curious how this would change if they added all the other soccer properties available on TV and live. The reason the local coverage is critical is because it guides the casual fan. The Hawks management has done a great job and the best move, bar none, was bringing in WGN because that gets you the media blanket coverage. But there still is the perception that ice hockey is a real sport and the Hawks are a real pro team. The slavish coverage of the Olympic hockey tournament just follows in this "let's all show how much we love hockey" fad.

    I'm ready to embrace the US soccer team bandwagon people and hope a few of them stick around. I have to believe that Landon Donovan has more of a national footprint than Pat Kane. I just have to believe that to keep in good spirits.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    You can sleep tonight....there's no doubt Donovan has more of a national presence than Kane.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    I think we might see a jump in attendance right after the WC because of the buzz it creates. People will come but they won't see nearly the same level at all and won't stay interested. After the Olympics, people that watched the sport there continued to watch the NHL and saw the same players and the level of play didn't drop at all because all of the players that play in the NHL were on the Olympic teams. There is one starter on the USMNT that plays in the MLS and the play will not be even close to what the casual fan will be watching the whole month of June. Let's hope that they can see past that and embrace the Fire as a club and fall in love with the sport.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    The Blackhawks bandwagon coverage will fade fast for the next few days. Now, to focus on the Main Event which occurs every 4 years (World Cup). World Cup is bigger than the Super Bowl; Super Bowl attracts in America while World Cup is globalized in every country.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    During the break, this will be interesting to see if the Fire organization will bring a DP or 2 to spark this team. Their number one priority is a center midfielder that can be playmaker (ie like Seedorf or Ballack like). Collins John has been a dud this year, Pappa is perfect where is at right now, Conde has been on the downside for the past month and De Los Cobos must stick to the same personnel with 4-5-1 format; I can deal with Lowry at defending midfield instead of Pause (as G.R. mentioned Pause no mistakes and no movement). Lowry provides movement of the ball when he played at Pause position.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    If Pause is healthy, he should be playing. If we play a 4-5-1 then Pause needs to play. 4-4-2 then it should be Lowry so he can get forward more and be more involved in the game. 4-5-1 allows both Husidic and Mapp to roam around the center of the park with out worrying too much on defense. 4-4-2 needs to have two attack minded and defensive minded players in the middle. If we get a playmaker, who sits? Pappa is playing well, Mapp has been our best player for the past 2 or 3 games, Nyarko is on fire this year. I have a bad feeling that it is going to be Blanco coming back and he won't bring anything to our team. He will just slow down the pace and not do anything.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    You're right about Pause in the 4-5-1. That formation allows the midfield to get forward and fits what Pause does best, which is stay home. Pause's weaknesses are more openly exposd in a 4-4-2 since two way central midfielders are more important in that shape. I'm thinking Mapp and Blanco split time if indeed Mr. White returns in July. Blanco is no longer a 90 minute player.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I like Nyarko but the problem with him is that he has the speed, quickness and shake through defenders but he can't finish and he tends to hold on to the ball and hesitate. I would love to have Blanco on this team with a discount. They need some fire and passion to this team. If I want a DP player, I would love to have Ballack in a Fire uniform but for how much? Seedorf will be great too but he is a year away. Joe, you are right with Banner, I can't bare to watch him play; I had seen enough of Austin Washington 2.0.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Doug, I heard Chris "Loud Mouth" Russo downgrading the World Cup. He had some caller disagreeing with Mr. New Yorker on Sirius radio. Russo mentioned that he is not convinced that people in New York around downtown Manhattan are buying in the World Cup.

    The caller mentioned that "Lots of people wearing the shirts for the World Cup not just immigrants,people from all over but I am not quite sure if you understand the sport that soccer will take over."

    Chris Russo did not let the caller finish speaking and starts yelling "Let me ask you a question, let me get this straight, the Americans, black and white who live in America who care more about France and Uruguay (if the somenone makes an attempt to charge the net) than the Yankees, NBA Finals, Blackhawks who won the Stanley Cup?" "Are you not convincing me of that."

    Caller said "The kids know more about soccer than they do about basketball and baseball. They can care less."

    Russo with a ask a question in a smug type fashion said "If they care so much about soccer, how can they are not attending the MLS games?"

    The caller said "It is a crap league."

    Russo talks over the caller and said "How does a 12 year old differentiate what is good and what is bad?

    Caller said " They grew up with this players"

    Russo said "What are talking about, they did not grow up watching Uruguayian player." Caller mentioned "Can they tell you the 25 players from the Yankees."
    Russo mentioned they can tell Teixiera, A Rod and Jeter.

    Russo ended the call with you cannot tell me that an 15 year old American can name the starting lineup for Uruguay. You are not convincing me at all goodbye. Russo continues to yell "I am not stupid that I am buying into that, can I see the ball going into net for the next 35 minutes, I will be happy. That is all."

    Later he said do you know anybody in America that knows who Landon Donovan is? He said people I know don't know who Donovan is unless USA does something spectacular in the World Cup.

    It comes to show you the stupidity like Norman Chad's, Mad Dog Russo's and Rome's of the world don't know anything about soccer.

    What kills me that he had some former Rapids announcer, Tommy Smyth and some educated caller explaining Soccer 101 to Chris Russo. Once they explained the World Cup system to him, he did not make a single ignorant comment about soccer.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Yikes....I have a better wardrobe and hygiene though.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    For those of you wondering about the status of trialist Stavros Glouftsis.....he is no longer with the team and was not offered a contract.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    This was the best we played this season. Conde is doing the same things that Soumare was doing last year before he blew up. Dribbling in the back, not marking, thinking his presence alone is going to throw off attackers which then just blow by him, playing long balls 90% of the time because he thinks he should, and costing us games more then winning us games. I also don't know what DLC sees in Banner that would make him think he should be coming in at the end of a match that we are winning 2-1? Does he think he is a good defender? Does he see him as a counter attack that can seal the match for us? Because all I see is a one dimensional player that isn't effective in that one dimension. And to bring him on for Mapp brought me back to Denis the Menace's mind boggling subs. When he made that sub I told my girlfriend I had a terrible feeling about this game. If he wanted to pack it in he should have brought in Lowry for Mapp and clogged everything up in the middle. Not a like for like sub. He just brought on a worse player at the same position. It didn't make sense then and there is no explination for it that could.

    Positives: Best we played this season. Kept possession well and looked very dangerous for most of the match. Mapp once again was our most effective player last night in terms of keeping possession and distributing. Pappa was dangerous and so was Nyarko. Still think they should be playing on their strong sides because they both don't cut into the middle and try to beat their defenders down the line which then leaves them no chance to cross the ball with their weaker feet. Pappa has the worst right foot and Nyarko has the worst left foot and both have to use them to cross in the positions they are playing. Husidic looked strong and was playing some nice long balls all match. His pass to Pappa shows that he can really play in this league.

    Negatives: Conde, Banner, allowing Connor Casey to score of all people, Nyarko's shooting ability, DLC's subbing, Mike Banner and Wilman Conde.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Hard to argue any of that.
    Pappa moved inside/centrally when Banner replaced Mapp. Banner moved outside on the left. The point about Pappa and Nyarko's inability to cross from those sides is a good one but it's worked for them the last two games.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    We were playing with 10 men when John was on the pitch. I know he is just getting back, but really, there was no effort from him. Also, speaking of the pitch, what is the deal with everyone slipping and falling? Conde's slip led to the first Rapid's goal, and they almost got another one when Robinson lost his footing on the other side.

  • In reply to mwaech1:

    Maybe it was me, but I didn't notice any Colorado players slipping and falling.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I didn't see any Rapids players slip either - that must mean our guys couldn't find their feet!

  • In reply to cesba:

    It's disheartenning to know that even if the Fire play like the best team in mls, they still can't beat a team like Colorado at home. It's hard to imagine where they could go from here. Pappa did extremely well in creating chances on the right side. i wonder who should start there though with how well Nyarko can run down that side, and the fact that neither can cross with their opposite foot. It is very important to have good crosses too with a target like Mcbride (crosses from the wide areas to Mcbride have been almost nonexistent this season). It's a hard decision on which starting mid should start where. The Fire did though score what should be in contention for goal of the year with their second goal. I don't think there is any other player in the world that could make the header that Mcbride did to set up Husidic.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I am really upset with Count Chocula! I drove from St. Louis tosee my first Fire game of the season. I had all these great comments to make and he stole nearly every one !!! But here goes any way. I thought that the Fire looked great. Much better than what I had seen on TV. Their passing was fantastic, They made the Rapids look silly. Speaking of the Rapids!! They are a one-trick pony. Every thing they do is based on a long searching pass -- knock down and shoot or knock down, run around, and shoot. To me they exemplify everything that is bad in MLS: overly physical, boring offense, and no real ball skills. All that doesn't mean they can't win. Bad soccer teams have been winning like that for 100 years but I certainly don't have to support them.
    Now for the late score!! I will admit that the Fire needs to learn how to bunker to hold on to wins however, they need to do that only when it doesn't support the gameplan of the opposition. During the entire game the Fire was able to keep the Rapids far enough out that their long balls were easily defended. However when we abdicated control of mid field, the Rapids were now able tolaunch a barrage of balls into the box. It didn't take a genius to see that eventually this was going to result in a goal. So when you distribute the blame, please include a good share for DLC. I still think he's great though!!!

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    i actually thought dasan played a pretty good game. he did get forward several times, his passing was pretty decent, he seemed more into the game than previous games. krol was the disappointment for me this game, tho he did have a tougher defensive assignment. but he really blew it (along with conde and banner) on that casey goal.

    mcbride had 2 excellent chances saved by pickens.

    nyarko actually took quite a few shots, and most of them were not that bad of efforts. the one that hit the crossbar was the best shot i'd seen him take this year. and the other great chance he had, pickens just made a great deflection save & the ball still just barely missed

    conde did have some bad mistakes, but he also did a lot of good things in the game. his passing was the best it had been all year. he did make some very nice defensive stops. but that concentration needs to improve, its costing the fire points each and every game

    dykstra. i have been giving him a lot of slack this year, but he is gonna have to step it up and make some plays at some point. sometimes goals can be stopped before the shot is taken, i'd like to see him rushing out more, punch the ball away if he cannot grab it.

    for the first 80 minutes or so, i didnt have any complaints about any players overall play, but these lapses need to get taken care of. the fire does not do a good job of parking the bus, they cannot allow the opposing team time and space to make those kind of dangerous balls into the box.

    1st half was probly teh best half of soccer ive seen from the fire this season. lots of chances, great passing, lots of possession, they were patient when they needed to be, i liked the pace of the game chicago was using. take away conde's slip and add a little better finishing (or less excellent goalkeeping by pickens) and its 4 or 5 to nil at half

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Conde's erratic play is nothing new. Chocula's point is really a microcosm of his entire tenure with the Fire. He makes bad mistakes and bad decisions all the time, but will then make some athletic play -- sometimes to recover for his own error -- that has everyone ooh-ing and aah-ing to the point where they forget about it and name him to the MLS Best XI. I think the swishy hair hypnotizes people. It makes me crazy.

    Which isn't to say he can't get better. Raw athletic defenders go through this phase all the time -- Segares and Bocanegra are two examples just from the Fire. Remember when Sega kept giving up free kicks just outside the box game in and game out? Except that with everyone telling Conde how great he is, I don't think he's inclined to try to improve.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    How you give McBride a 6 is beyond me. he get's the same number as Nyarko and Baggio???? I thought they both played a lot better than mcBride did.

    McBride had one of the worst games I've seen him play in a while. His touches were terrible, passing wasn't good. He killed a couple attacks, i remember he came back settled the ball and instead of turning and switching the field to an on rushing Pappa (or whoever it was on the right)he turns in the same direction the ball came from, dribbled some and lost the ball. Killing what could have been a good counter attack.

    His first shot against pickens was very weak, Pickens made a meal out of it. Up until his header that Pickens made a save on, he was awful, period. By the time John came on we did not play offense. We sat back and defended like idiots. We played with no urgency to get the 3rd goal and kill the game off. I don't get how we can give John a 4 when the team shuts down when he comes on the field, thus leaving McBride with all the chances lol.

    We have no midfield which makes it hard for any forward on the Fire. Hopefully we can bring blanco back and add a couple more offensive players and a def midfielder that can handle a lot of room.

  • In reply to jking:

    McBride could have easily scored on the header you mention and he also provided the header/pass to Husidic which resulted in the first goal. Part of what McBride does is track back to retrieve the ball if the midfielders aren't doing it.
    John's rating was affected by the defensive posture assumed by the rest of the team while he was on the field but he didn't really do much to exert himself either.
    I'm torn on the Blanco acquisition or re-acquisition.

  • In reply to cesba:

    The McBride header was to set up the second goal not the first. The first was the set piece.

    I think out top players yesterday was Mapp, Pappa, Nyarko and Husidic. Banner was terrible, Pappa was bad in the middle.

    McBride was ok, had a few chances, but didn't impose his will. Krol had a bad game, and seemed to not be connecting with his team mates when he moved forward. The passes were almost always to a different spot either behind or in front of him but never in stride.

  • In reply to lijien: was the second.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    If I'm not mistaken, Nyarko had two fine shots off his good foot earlyish in the game (one being the crossbar shot Guillermo mentioned). I thought that was already a huge improvement. That ninth minute shot blew me away, if only it had been a couple inches lower... But good to see Patrick taking shots.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    If the US makes a decent run in the World Cup, MLS in general will benefit from an increased interest in soccer domestically. The Fire will need to improve considerably in order to reap any possible benefits in terms of media attention locally. It will be difficult to generate a whole lot of buzz for a .500 team that drops points at home...constantly.
    I'm sure the media coverage for this oil spill of a baseball season will resume en force shortly.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    You're completely right. The local coverage is pathetic. The fake hype for the Blackhawks disgusts me. One of the biggest matches in the history of American soccer. Next to nothing. No we're covering a parade instead! Great!

  • Conde didn't actually walk out on the team. The apology was made in April of 2008 for basically causing a distraction by making selfish trade demands. Here's Luis' story from April of '08.
    I referred to Dykstra's need to be more vocal with defenders as well. Conde, Krol, and Banner all share some responsibility on the second goal.

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