Fire 3 Galaxy 2 - Game Recap and Player Ratings

The Fire escape from LA with a 3-2 win and all three points despite a second half that saw the Galaxy control possession for most of the last 45 minutes.  Chicago can take pleasure in finally finishing opportunities when presented.  Marco Pappa and Collins John scored the first two goals as the Los Angeles defense was caught too high playing for the offside call. 

The second half was marred by awful bunkering and questionable substitutions.  Patrick Nyarko and Marco Pappa were subbed out in the 58th and 65th minutes respectively which effectively removed the Fire's best hopes of maintaining possession or providing a dangerous enough counter to make Los Angeles pay for sending numbers forward. 

That being said, the Galaxy still needed two penalty calls to get on the board as a result of outstanding goalkeeping from rookie Sean Johnson.  Johnson's save in the waning minutes on Alan Gordon's header should earn a Save of the Week award and a starting position as the number one goalkeeper.  Johnson made several classy saves during the match and controlled the penalty area with sure handed confidence and control. 

The second penalty call was dubious to say the least as Silviu Petrescu ruled a handball against Krzyzstof Krol as he was running toward the goal and twisting his body to avoid the ball.  Johnson barely missed getting a hand on Landon Donovan's second penalty kick attempt.  Some have speculated that the penalty call was a result of a foul on Dasan Robinson.  If that was the case, the call by Petrescu was even more heinous. 

Finishing three scoring chances in the first half fulfilled one of the missing ingredients throughout much of the first half of the season.  The Fire impressively held a 3-0 lead after twenty miinutes against the best team in the league this year.  Collins John looked more active than he has been since the first two games of the year.  Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come from John as he will surely benefit from playing in front of Nery Castillo and Freddie Ljungberg in the near future. 

As a ugly as the second half was, going into Los Angeles and handing the Galalxy their first MLS home loss is an impressive feat which bodes well for the second half. 

Player Ratings

Sean Johnson GK (8) - Johnson was outstanding throughout the match.  His big save on Edson Buddle in the second minute set the tone for the day.  If Buddle had scored the match certainly would have been played much differently.  Add in the fact that the rookie keeper was starting his first MLS match on the road against the best team in the league and you have a man of the match worthy performance.  As Luis would say, Johnson was El Mero Mero hands down. 

Dasan Robinson (5) - Seemed to struggle late in the second half, possibly due to an injury of some sort which was alluded to during the broadcast.  Provided the pass that freed Collins John for the second goal. 

Krzyzstof Krol (5) - Got unjustly called for the handball penalty on the second LA goal but played decently.  Took a studs up tackle in the 66th minute that could have easily been a red card.

CJ Brown (6) - The Galaxy had several near miss chances but every shot was contested by Fire defenders.  Edson Buddle rarely had clear uncontested chances after the shot in the second minute.  When Buddle did have a chance in the 50th minute Johnson came up big again. 

Wilman Conde (6) - Conde was solid for most of the match although he did miss a tackle which led to a Galaxy break out in the 40th minute.  The Fire did not allow a goal from the run of play despite having to defend for the entire second half. 

Logan Pause (6) - Did well to snuff two Buddle runs in the first half.  The midfield was overrun in the second half but that was a result of Nyarko and Pappa being removed from the match.

Baggio Husidic (6) - Provided the assist on the first goal from Pappa.  Like most everyone else his first half was much better than the second.  Was substituted in the 75th minute after an apparent leg injury forced him off the pitch.

Marco Pappa (7) - Curiously subbed out for Ljungberg in the 58th minute although he had a very active match.  Scored the first goal and his rocket shot led to the second goal.  His finish on the first goal was clinical.

Mike Banner (6) - Scored the third goal on a nice touch after Rickett's initial save on Pappa's shot.  Struggled mightily to maintain possesion in the second half.

Patrick Nyarko (6) - Not as dangerous as we've seen him but his presence was definitely felt.  Several nice runs in the first half and early in the second provided much needed possession.  Backpedalled awkwardly on a penalty kick foul which made the contact look worse than it actually was.  Possession disappeared after he was subbed out in the 65th minute. Provided the pass that freed Collins John for the second goal. Raised to 6.

Collins John (6) - Much more active than he has been in quite some time.  His goal provided a snapshot of exactly what the Fire thought they were getting when they signed him.  Hustled and tracked back but he was offsides numerous times throughout. 

Freddie Ljungberg (5) - Came on in the 58th minute for Pappa and played up top behind Collins John.  The move seemed odd since Klopas projects that Ljungberg would play centrally behind the strikers.  Subbing him in for Banner or Husidic would have seemed to make more sense if he's going to play the central role for the Fire.  Didn't do a whole lot since the Fire were mired in bunker and defend mode with little offensive support.

Deris Umanzor (5) - Subbed into the match in the 65th minute for Patrick Nyarko.  According to the announcers there may have been some confusion on the field about the substitution since Robinson was apparently hurting by then.  Umanzor played on the left side of midfield but provided little in terms of ball control.

Steve Kinney (5) - Entered the game in the 75th minute for Husidic.  Kinney was probably coming on for Robinson originally but the injury to Husidic necessitated the change for the midfielder. 


Silviu Petrescu (3) -  An abysmal performance from Petrescu allowed the Galaxy to crawl back into the match on penalty kicks.  The first call was justifiable but the second was just plain awful.  Petrescu also missed the clear definition of a straight red when Dema Kovalenko charged into Krol with his studs clearly showing while taking a shot to the defenders leg that could have easily caused a serious injury. 

Fox Soccer Channel Broadcast

Brian Dunseth isn't exactly a top flight play by play guy and makes one sorely miss Max Bretos.  Without Bretos we were robbed of five "Yeeaaaaaa" goal calls.  At least Christian Miles was on the sideline and not in the booth.

Fox's post game show with Todd Grisham and Christopher Sullivan is usually pretty decent with league highlights and interviews with both coaches.  They also interviewed Sean Johnson.

Next Match

The Fire return to Toyota Park next Sunday in a Designated Player extravaganza.  Nery Castillo, Freddie Ljungberg, Juan Pablo Angel, Thierry Henry and possibly Rafa Marquez could all be on an MLS pitch. 




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  • I think Dykstra just got himself a new job as backup keeper. Sean not only made some good saves but those hands were so sure. Not sure what happened on that last minute handball but he was Mero Mero last night. Robinson is not the solution at LB.
    Someone needed to tell he announcer that the Fire lost to NE in SuperLiga. I think he mentioned 3 times that Johnson was 2-0 in Superliga.

  • The Krol handball was not unjust, but cruelly unfortunate. He may have been twisting away from the ball as it came towards him, but he raised his arm, and a player is responsible for where he puts his arm. A tough call, but simply a bad break for Krol.

    Petrescu's failure to send off Kovalenko for the savage challenge on Krol was reprehensible.

  • In reply to ggorecki:

    The handball call was garbage. The ball inadvertently deflected from his foot and may have knicked his elbow.
    Here's a definition of the foul per FIFA rules:

    It is a "direct kick foul" if a player (other than the goalkeeper inside his own penalty area) deliberately handles the ball (meaning to deliberately touch the ball with any part of the arm from the finger tips to the top of the shoulder). If the player handles it for the purpose of preventing an opponent from gaining possession, it is a "cautionable offense" and a yellow card should be given. If a player deliberately handles the ball to deny an obvious goal scoring opportunity (e.g., to prevent a breakaway or to deliberately stop a shot), a red card should be given and the player "sent off". However, a hand ball foul should not be called if: (1) a player is instinctively trying to protect himself from injury or (2) the player did not deliberately touch the ball but the ball hit his arm & he did not move the arm toward the ball (however, if the player's arms were in an unnatural position such as above his shoulders or sticking out to the sides, then he should be called for a handball).

    He is responsible for where he puts his arm but he did not intentionally place his arm in an unnatural position.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Anytime a player pulls his arms away from his body when in the box, he runs the risk of a PK being called if his arm makes contact with the ball. While I don't agree with the referee's decision on this one, I can easily how he reached his conclusion.

  • In reply to ggorecki:

    That's the point, his arm was not away from his body, it was in a natural position.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Correction to above : It was actually Patrick Nyarko that made the final pass to spring Collins John for the second Fire goal.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I think I would have ranked John's performance higher. Maybe you can give him one of the referee's three points? He made a great run into open space with surprising speed and fired a rocket that somehow found an impossibly small space on the inside post. He also had a pretty obvious role in the buildups to each of the other goals.

  • In reply to cweimers:

    I thought about a higher ranking for John as well. He was fairly non existent in the second half (which really wasn't his fault) which is why I settled on 6.

  • In reply to cweimers:

    The Marquez deal to New York is official and he should be available for the game on Sunday.

  • In reply to cesba:

    That should be a sellout crowd. Can't script that any better; Rafa, Henry and Angel for the visiting team and Castillo/Ljungberg for Chicago.

  • In reply to cesba:

    This will be a great game. A win and the fire r 1 of the best again. A loss, and I feel sad again.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Hey Guillermo, what happened with Gonzalo Segares? I don't see him on the Apollon team roster anymore.

  • In reply to fireman451:

    I noticed that as well. I'll try to track down his whereabouts.

  • In reply to cweimers:

    Herculez Gomez talks about US soccer.

  • I never thought I would say this ever but I wish we could swap Austin Washington for Mike Banner right now. At least Washington kinda knew he was bad and always looked to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. Banner thinks he is good and tries to beat players in the middle on our half and looses it everytime. He can't defend at all. He was 10 feet away from the guy who crossed it to Gordon at the end when the guy was at the edge of the box. It was the perfect setup for Freddie to make his debut, except for the fact that we were out possessed 60/40 for the last 70 minutes of the game. Subbing out Pappa for him killed any counter we could of had and made us sit back. I think he might of had 20 touches in 30 minutes.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Banner is better than Austin Washington.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Maybe technical ability...

  • I love Dema and wish we would have kept him in Fire red all along but he deserve to get a straight red for what he did to Krol!
    We looked awesome last night! I love how we finished our chances and got off to a 3-0 lead against the best in MLS and handed the Galaxy their 1st home loss of the year!
    Sean was amazing, especially his save on Gordon is save of the Week! He is our starting goalie and Man of the Match!
    He has confidence and the team wants him in goal with his leadership from the back! As far as I'm concerned he was Man of the Match and had a clean sheet in his 1st MLS game!

  • In reply to smiley:

    If you think Mapp didn't deserve what he is making, Dema is making $144,000 this season. That was his 4th game of the season for them.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Kovalenko = hack
    Sure, he was our hack at one point but nonsense like yesterday should not be taken lightly.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Even though the two goals were allowed by Sean Johnson were on PK's (2nd PK executed by Donovan, Johnson just missed getting a piece of ball), his performance was top notch for a rookie. The first half save on Buddle and denied Gordon's header in the 84th minute gave the former Central Florida alum his first win. Dykstra will have a nice seat in the bench unless Johnson falters.

  • In reply to smiley:

    after the Fire scored their 3rd goal, i was wondering if it would be enough. i have seen too many Fire games this year where their possession was poor and they are allowing too much pressure to be put on a not very disciplined defense.

    thing about Sean Johnson that i've noticed in his last 3 games, is he is very decisive. he makes his decision and goes through on the action, doesn't second guess himself like Dykstra seems to. on one occasion the decision was not a good one (the handball outside the box shoulda been let go for a goal kick) but gotta remember he is a rookie, he is gonna make some mental mistakes.

    i'd been pulling for collins john to get a goal, glad he finally got one. should breed more confidence & lead to more goals.

    IMO subbing out pappa hurt, but subbing out nyarko was even worse. now, IMO, nyarko didnt have the best of games, he gave the ball away a lot, esp in the 1st half, but his speed is so dangerous that opposing teams have to guard against that and can't just throw all their players forward. he takes pressure off the chicago defense.

    nyarko did seem to be playing awfully deep for much of the game tho - he is an offensive weapon, and while its great he is helping on defense, he seemed to be doing more than his share of it. the foul he caused that led to the penalty - where was Dasan? that seemed to me that shoulda been Dasans area to cover?

    pappa, john, and husidic each were key players in at least 2 of the Fire goals.

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Nyarko was playing tracking back alot yesterday. Good point on the penalty call. Not sure where Robinson was there.

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    De Los Moron nearly pulled another one out of a hat.
    Apparently he doesn't know his own players strengths
    and weaknesses. Can't understand his love affair with Banner
    despite his awareness on the field is abysmal. (Lucky the rebound
    landed on his foot before his goal) The substitutions he made were
    o.k., the problem was who he took off the field in the second half.
    The Fire started losing control towards the end of the first half, but the
    first 20 minutes have been the best the Fire has played by far.
    The best thing is at least we found a competent keeper, great job.
    What can one say about the quality of M.L.S. game officials.
    I'd say they suck, but they are not that good.
    The first penalty kick was justified, the second more dubious, there have been games when neither
    call would have been made.
    A big deal was made of Donovan reaching a 100 goals.
    How many were penalty kicks. I guess before every L.A. game, the officials
    bow down to a golden statue of Donovan.s ass, kiss it, then pray, "Let the Gods grant you a penalty
    kick". If the league had any integrity , it would grant assists to the refs.
    Saying Donovan is the U.S.'s best player may say a lot about him, but not much about the
    quality of U.S. soccer

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    I agree with what you say. Nyarko, is not a defender, there were more than several times
    the defense was out of position, not just one player, but the whole defense.
    We don't need all four defenders in the attack, someone has to stay at home.
    Robinson seemed out of position numerous times.

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    It is a good thing the keeper position is in better shape as it seems the Fire's inability to to keep possession for more than 20 minutes means we will need it!

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