Frustration Continues : Fire 0 TFC 0 Game Recap and Player Ratings

In yet another night of missed opportunities, the Fire squandered one of the "games in hand" against their playoff competitors by dueling to a frustrating 0-0 draw at home against a team with a 1-8-1 road record. 

The Fire's best opportunity to score went out the window when Freddie Ljungberg somehow missed a clear 1v1 break away chance against Stefan Frei in the 48th minute.  Several shots on the Toronto net later in the second half provided chances but none decidedly dangerous.  Toronto was not much better offensively mustering only three shots on goal for the entire match. 

The Fire's 3-4-3 formation never quite materialized as a true 3-4-3 since Mike Banner was dropping back consistently at left back.  The three forward formation also resulted in Nery Castillo seeing more time at left midfield than forward.  In any case, the attempt at a more offensive minded starting eleven resulted in an outcome similar to those throughout this entire season, namely frustration. 

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (7) - Continues his outstanding performance.  His best save of the night came in the 74th minute as a Mike Banner botched clearance resulted in a close range Toronto shot that Johnson koncked away.  The clean sheet was good and the marking was decidely better but the season is ticking away and Johnson will be one of the bright spots if the team fails to qualify for the playoffs.

D Steven Kinney (5) - Was fairly sold in back but didn't provide much going forward.  Overlapping runs by Fire defenders are few and far between these days.  Toronto's wide players were reasonably contained throughout the match but I'm not sure if that was excellent defending or just bad offensive play from the visiting side.

D Dasan Robinson (6) - Was probably the Fire's best defender throughout the match while playing center back.  Cleared most of the aerial attempts into the area and handled just about every attack in his direction.

D CJ Brown (6) - Brown took several hard knocks throughout the match and played with a large bloody knot on his forehead and an abrasion on the left side of his head.  Marking on Toronto set piceces was improved tonight.

M/D  Mike Banner (5) - A missed clearance in the 74th minute almost cost the Fire the match but Johnson was there to bail him out.  Banner started out briefly at left mid before spending most of the match actually playing the left back spot.  At some point he must do a better job of actually maintaining possesion to warrant continued playing time.

M Logan Pause (6) - Reasonably solid again as Toronto's attack seldom seriously threatened.  DeRosario was held to one long range shot.

M John Thorrington (5) - Seemed to struggle a bit tonight and was subbed out at halftime for Conde.  The reason for the substitution was apparently cramping. 

M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Several long runs drew Toronto fouls in dangerous positions but the final touch or run into a truly threatening spot never materialized.  Provided a through ball to John that resulted in the only real chance of the first half.  Drew two Toronto yellow card fouls but his crossing was ineffective. 

F/M Nery Castillo (6) - His best performance in a Fire kit to date, which was also an improvement on the LA match.  Started the game briefly playing on top with John but immediately moved back into more of a left midfield role where he doesn't seem as comfortable. His best moments came after Ljungberg was subbed out and he was able to get forward as the central attacker. 

F Collins John (5) - Managed to get a head on several crosses and corners but none resulted in true scoring chances.  His low hard shot in the 15th minute provided the Fire's first offensive threat of the night.  Subbed out for McBride in the 82nd minute.  Had a chance for a clear break away in the second half which was incorrectly called offside.

F Freddie Ljungberg (4) - Easily his least impressive effort since joining the team.  His game seemed a little off and as a result was subbed out for Calen Carr in the 75th minute.  His miss in the 48th minute was one of those "wow" moments that can deflate a match.  I would dare say that Chad Barrett may have actually finished that chance.

M Wilman Conde (5) - Replaced Thorrington in the attacking mid role at half time.  Wasn't bad but had a tendency to rely on long balls and lengthy switches too often. 

F Calen Carr (6) - Seemed to be one of the few players on the pitch with a true sense of urgency.  After coming on in the 75th minute for Ljungberg he provided some spark if nothing else.

F Brian McBride (5) - Played the final eight minutes after coming on for John but didn't really factor into much of the play. 

Next Match

Needless to say the road match in Philadelphia on Saturday is another must win situation for a team who may have seen their playoff hopes fade with a draw tonight.  The best chance for the Fire may be catching a Seattle side which will be faced with Champions League and US Open Cup matches over the next several weeks.  Seattle is at home against Real Salt Lake tomorrow.  Any chance of catching a streaking Colorado may have been blown tonight.  San Jose is at home against FC Dallas on Saturday.

Fire Post Game

Carlos De Los Cobos addresses formation changes, dwindling chances, and Marco Pappa's role upon his return.  Listen to the full post game press conference here.

I'll have more on Bob Bradley's USMNT comments tomorrow. 

You can follow Fire Confidential on twitter for Fire updates and other random nonsense.

@Fire Conf

 

Comments

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  • Are you kidding me? Banner gets a 5 and Freddie gets a 4? Banner was a travesty, Freddie was rusty, are we judging players on the level they can attain or the level they played at? Freddie was a 7 being rusty, Banner was a 1, Kinney was a 4.

  • In reply to milicz:

    Banner gets a five based on being asked to switch between left back and left mid throughout. He had one mistake which Johnson covered for.

    Ljungberg's rating is based on his performance which I'm sure he would admit was subpar, which explains why he was subbed for Calen Carr. His glaring mistake was the difference in the match..thus the 4.

  • In reply to milicz:

    Banner didn't do that bad. He he a missed clearance and a couple of poor passes, but other than those lapses he was pretty good. Ljungberg did not do create any scoring opportunities, which is his job, not to mention the MISS, (it was also bad to see him standing at the top of the area after Nyarko works past 3 defenders to get a cross into the near post). based on work rate and creativity Nyarko was the best player, but Robinson did very good as well.

  • In reply to milicz:

    Yes , you can not rate a player very highly in a game that he does not put away a breakaway.

  • i thought banner had a good game, they all looked good, starting to gell alitlle too late

  • In reply to bert:

    Banner had a TERRIBLE game last night. Worse player by far. John looked lazy but at least he never really lost the ball. Everytime Banner got the ball he gave it to them. And did you see his seizure in the box that almost lost us the game. Heads it straight in the air and then swings and falls looking like a fool. He would pass to CJ with their forward sprinting at him, try and play a long ball to the striker but couldn't kick it more than 20 yards. Couldn't believe how bad he was. He might be our worse defender but somehow he is playing in the back. He went forward one time, and dribble straight out of bounds. With the way he keeps getting minutes, I bet we protect him in the expansion draft...

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    how many players will they be able to protect?

  • In reply to Drew:

    In the expansion draft?

    Teams can protect 11 players but generation Adidas and homegrown players are automatically protected.

  • In reply to cesba:

    and DPs

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    DP's are not automatically protected

  • In reply to cesba:

    i guess i was misinformed then.

    do you think it probable an expansion team would be ready to pay a DP salary though?

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    I would think if it's the right guy, yes. Both will probably have impressive season ticket numbers coming in.

  • In reply to cesba:

    That meens that the Fire will have to put a big player into the expansion draft.

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Did anyone notice in the reaction video with Sean the name tag next to him is not shown?

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Not really signficant of anything. CJ's locker is actually over in that corner.

  • In reply to cesba:

    From the world of the not so hard to believe.....

    http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2010/09/rolfe-says-no-timetable-aab-return-yet

  • In reply to Drew:

    I wouldn't call last night's game attractive soccer, particularly in the second half.
    This type of games is why I call De Los Moron a moron.
    Although the Fire played decently well for roughly the last thirty minutes of the first half,
    they never had any sustained pressure on Toronto in the second half.
    Certainly, didn't show the determination for a team fighting for a playoff spot.
    Can't understand why everyone is coming down on Banner, don't get me wrong putting
    Banner in the lineup is a prescription for a tie or loss, but he didn't cost the Fire the game, he
    didn't put himself in the lineup, De Los Moron did.
    Couldn't understand why Conde didn't start, and put in Husidic at mid-field.
    The coach spends too much time tinkering with the lineup and formations, like he is some type of chess master but doesn't understand the difference between a pawn and bishop.
    What the Fire should do is start their 11 strongest players and let them play.
    Even with Banner starting, the lineup should have been able to easily defeat a fairly weak team.
    By the 65th. minute it was clearly evident that the air was coming out of the tire,(even a moron could see that, making Del Los Moron, De Los less than a Moron) and the Fire needed a transfusion. One would think that the experiment with Conde at midfield would be over at this point after the previous results. After taking Freddie out, then put in another forward didn't
    make much sense, when what was needed was someone that would create openings in the defense
    by good passing, at times some players seemed more interested in displaying their dribbling skills.
    They played much better playing down one man against L.A. than last night.
    By the 75th. minute it was rather evident that it would be a scoreless tie. Some fans were headed
    towards the exits by this time, at least in our section.
    One wonders if they will make the playoffs, will need 17 points in the last nine games.
    I thought that the Fire would pick up 7 points (2W, 1D,1L) in their last four games but only managed 2 points. Would figure that the Fire would pick up wins with Union, Wizards, Chivas, DC, and Sounders, until last night's nights effort, making this somewhat questionable. There are no gimmes,
    and a loss, or tie against any of these teams will probably be fatal.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    Playoff hopes are on life support. Anything less than three points in any of those matches could be a death blow.

  • In reply to bert:

    The MY50 broadcast was mediocre at best. There were far too many close-ups and replays that led to missed action on the field. Several times a potential goal would have missed. And did the play-by-play guy really say that Freddie was going to set up Calen Carr? This after he'd just been substituted for him?

    Uggh. Very pedestrian effort by the Fire. How many passes went straight to a TFC player? Is Krol hurt? Why was Banner starting at right back?

  • In reply to oliotya:

    I think DLC was going for a more offensive line up with Banner at left back. It didn't work.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Banner doesn't attack when he actually plays in midfield. He's one of the fastest guys on the field, but always pulls the ball back. If he doesn't attack from midfield, he thinks about it even less from left back. How was this ever going to make the lineup more offensive. Unless you mean offensive as in - it is offensive to have to watch Mike Banner try to defend. In that case you are wrong - it worked. I was completely offended I had to watch Mike Banner attempt to defend !!!

  • In reply to bkfiv:

    Hopefully you won't be offended much more this season. Pappa will be back on Saturday and I can't imagine Krol would not start at left back against the Union.

  • In reply to bkfiv:

    I put the blame for this game on CDLC. I didn't like the line up. Conde has no place in middle field. Banner has no place at LB. I wouldn't want DH back. CDLC needs to have 1 starting 11. Put the best on the field. Play 1 formation, make adjustments during the game. Better hope we beat Philly. I like the guys on the team but this attractive style of play is not paying of.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    I blame this season on De Los Cobos. He needs to go. With all the talent this team has, I can't believe we are not winning games. Why is Conde not starting center back? Why is Banner starting over Krol?? Why do you take out Freddie who is the only one getting chances? (although he couldn't finish) Why is Kinney even on the team??

    I hate to say it but if we had Hamlett still we would have at least 5 more wins and we wouldn't be worried about making the playoffs or not.

  • In reply to ChicagoFire8:

    Hamlett would make little to no difference, and certainly not five wins difference. The major player additions came last month so it's not like he's had this roster at his disposal all season.

    Banner over Krol was nonsense in hindsight. A failed attempt at a more offensive look.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Banner over Krol is always nonsense, even before the game started. It is extremely difficult to win with Mike Banner on the field. Sooner or later he will make a mistake in the defensive third that will give the opponent at least one scoring opportunity. EVERY game he will do that.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I wouldn't call Nery Castillo a major player addition, although he played BETTER last night, he has done NOTHING to earn himself a spot on the team, let alone a starting DP role.

    I don't think we have had the same starting line-up two games in a row. I know players are missing now, but even when we had all our guys he would still switch things game after game. We are also the ONLY team that consistently makes a sub at halftime. MAYBE if he would get it right from the start of the game we wouldn't have to waste one at the 45 min mark.

    I don't see how you can say Hamlett wouldn't of made a difference when he was with Chicago for 2 years and took us to the playoffs both times. I would also say we were in the top 4 teams both years. If anything we have MORE talent now, and it looks like we aren't even going to make the playoffs.

  • In reply to ChicagoFire8:

    Acquiring Castillo was a major player addition. He just hasn't played like one. Hard to blame the manager for that.

    The Fire has played the same starting line up in consecutive matches once this season. (NE &Hou) There hasn't been any one point all year where every player has been available.

    Hamlett had a team that was EXPECTED to challenge for the title over the last 2 years and couldn't get past the conference final even with the deciding match at home last year. The supposedly more talented roster that is currently in place has been together for about one month.

    I would agree that the Fire had top four talent last season but still had to get a result on the last weekend of the season just to qualify for the playoffs with Hamlett in charge.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I'm not blaming anyone for Castillo's "form" but himself. I know everyone, including yourself, blame it on him not being fit... But lets face it, the guy is supposed to be a professional... during those "3 months off" he should of been training and working hard to stay fit, especially if he was looking for a new club. I'm sure we could argue about him all day but I'll just move on from that...

    I think we both know that if you want to build chemistry (something we are lacking) then you need to find a core of guys that are out there consistently. Los Cobos switches it up to much.

    I don't know about you guys but I EXPECT to make the playoffs EVERY year and I EXPECT to fight for a championship EVERY year. It seems like we have the talent but are lacking something(passion, heart, etc)... I believe that stems from the coach.

  • In reply to ChicagoFire8:

    There really should nobody to blame but Castillo himself for not being fit but to be fair he was in the midst of his offseason and this last month has essentially been his pre-season. I know we'd all like it to be so, but not every player takes their off season conditioning as seriously as guys like Brian McBride do. Maybe this will serve as a lesson to him.

    Any coach needs more than a month to find a consistent core of guys though.

  • In reply to cesba:

    On paper DLC has a team as good as Hamlett's. All season Nyarko and Pappa have been increadible, contributing much more than under Hamlett. Husidic has been much better than last year. Aside from Segares and Krol the defense has been the same, and Hamlett missed Segares for a large part of the season last year. Blanco will always be missed, but he didn't make an impact in every game, and Castillo, Ljungberg, and John have all been brought in. And, curse me for saying it, Banner has filled in pretty nicely.

  • In reply to cesba:

    last 4 matches:
    lose twice on road against two very mediocre teams
    draw twice at home, once against a weak team once against a good team

    i really don't see the playoffs happening this year. no chemistry on the attack = no goals scored

    the fire looked better back in april & may when their only problem was they just couldn't finish. now they have trouble just getting forward

  • In reply to cesba:

    also last 3 matches - no goals from the run of play

  • In reply to cesba:

    I will give De Los Cobos a pass on this year. In his first year coaching the MLS, he is trying to find the right personnel to fit in his system. Players like Ljungberg, Segares and Castillo came in July and at the same time it is not an overnight process they can just gel with a snap of a finger. If Hamlett would had been coaching this year with this current roster he would had made NO difference. Here are some info where they stand:

    With 4-5-1 formation: 3-3-3
    With 4-4-2 formation: 3-4-4
    With 3-4-3 formation: 0-0-1

    With Andrew Dykstra: 4-5-5
    With Sean Johnson: 2-2-3

    Dykstra goals allowed: 18
    Johnson goals allowed: 10

    Dykstra allowed 9 goals in his first 7 games in his MLS career while Johnson has given a 10 goals. The comparison between these two netminders is Dykstra is a hold your breath type goalie makes routine saves look difficult and tends to bobble the ball in his own territory. Johnson has made one big save after another when needed to add a big PK save on Donovan and showing signs of improvement behind the net.

    MLS coaches like Bruce Arena with the Galaxy and Sigi Schmid tenure in Columbus did not succeed in their first year. Schimd took the Crew to a championship in his third after he was on the seat going to his final year in his contract while Bruce Arena had Donovan and Beckham started to gel halfway through the season last year after he took over half of 2008. Entering next year, De Los Cobos will have most of the personnel to work with the expectations of the draft, expansion draft and player acquisitions.

  • In reply to ChicagoFire8:

    Whenever Banner is starting my immediate thought is "hopefully we dont lose today..." But I think you're wrong with Kinney. He is a good enough 1v1 defender to be out there and he gets forward enough also. He might be our most dangerous player on set pieces. He wins them on defense and is always around the ball on offense. But back to the atrocity that Mike Banner is. He cannot pass the ball to anyone on the field that is in red shirt. He was playing great balls to Toronto player all night though. He cannot defend at all. He is worse than Austin Washington.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I agree with your assessment on Kinney.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Banner is good with his feet and is pretty quick, so he could be a decent outside mid. Defender though? NO WAY. He loves to dribble and makes dumb mistakes at times, giving up opportunities. Keep him on the side where he can create space with his dribbling.

    I don't see what you guys do in Kinney though. He is a 'decent' defender but has NO ball skill and can't do anything for us going forward. He had one good game, which was his first where he hit the post twice... after that hes done nothing but look like a weak link and I'm sure forwards love going at him, cause he has no speed. I'm not going to say Kinney is terrible, but I just don't think he is good enough. Chicago Fire should have the best players at every position.

  • In reply to ChicagoFire8:

    The problem with Banner is that he thinks he is a good player so he tries to play a pass that he has no business playing. He thinks he can beat and defender so he loses the ball whenever he tries to beat a defender. He is not good with his feet because he cant pass to anyone and he cant dribble past any one.

    On Kinney, he is a defender. He is not supposed to be dribbling people. CJ Brown has NO ball skill whatsoever. CJ does 2 things on the field, kick it far or kick it farther. He also has no speed. But he is a good enough 1v1 defender and a leader to be out there. Kinney is good enough with his feet to be an outside back and he is very dangerous on set pieces. Just watch him in the box and he is always going for the ball and usually getting there. He probably cleared 4 or 5 corners last night and was all over their long throws. He is a better outside back that Robinson is and if he is our worst player out there then thats a good problem we have. The problem is Banner is still on the team and getting minutes so Kinney wont be our worse player on the field.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Banner just needs to calm down and play more simple and I'm sure he could be a good professional. (not defender)

    Kinney... I'm not saying he should be able to dribble people, I just think it would be nice if we had a guy that has speed and could make runs or play in nice crosses. Segares was great at this last season.

    CJ Brown is on a different level because he has been with the club since the start. He is also a center back, which are typically bigger, slower, and less technical but can do all the dirty work. Can't really compare Kinney with him.

  • In reply to ChicagoFire8:

    Kinney's biggest draw back appears to be speed.

  • In reply to ChicagoFire8:

    Per Sam....
    Thorrington's status for Saturday is unknown at the moment and Pappa has some sort of toe injury which could keep him out of the Union match.

  • In reply to cesba:

    ahhh the good news just keeps on coming

  • In reply to ChicagoFire8:

    re: banner

    thats why i thought he did so well in the LA game- he didnt try to do anything fancy, he played the smart and simple pass. but he reverted back to turnover banner last nite

  • In reply to ChicagoFire8:

    I agree about getting a new coach. It seems like the Fire has lost all their discipline and tenacity, which they had last season. Something needs to change. Last year I wasn't worried about taking the 2-1 NE defeat back to Chicago. I would be hopeless if that happened this year.

  • In reply to ChicagoFire8:

    Are you Hamlett's kid ???? Dont forget he played wins into ties with his boring lineups and this team qualified for the playoffs with one game left. Nobody in their right mind would want Hamlett back , say hi to your Dad for us !

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Guille, where are the referees' ratings? I'd have to say the group overall gets a 2 out of 10. The main ref was too busy dictating the precise spot of the restart, whether on free/indirect kicks or throw-ins, to really call a decent game. Sure some of his yellow card cautions were appropriately given but he spent too much time talking with players which, coupled with the re-start mess, slowed up the tempo of the game. This is very unfortunate seeing as how a more fluid, fast-pased game is something I think we call crave and the league has been striving for. Don't get me started on the linesmen. I sit in the front row in the northeast corner every game and even I could tell that some of the offsides the asst. ref on the west sideling(the Fire's attacking half in the 2nd half) were dead wrong, and the asst. ref closest to me on the east sideline wouldn't call any fouls until after the central ref called them first. Sure, the Fire didn't take advantage of their opportunities, but to have referees like that in a professional game is a disgrace. Last time I saw a ref dictate the EXACT spot for throw-ins and restarts was in an 8 year-old park district game.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    I stopped the referee ratings because I couldn't justify a decent ranking for any of them. The offsides calls were bad....particularly the one on John in the second half. Toronto is also complaining that two handballs were missed. Rating MLS refs is almost an excercise in futility.

  • In reply to cesba:

    You make a good point. These guys are something we have to suffer through. I guess it would be futile to but a 0 every time.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Overall, I didn't think the Ref had a bad game, more even handed than i seen in
    most Fire games, his calls really didn't have any major impact on the game, the west side linesman needs a better understanding of off-sides, however.
    What happened last night lies at the feet of the Fire, officiating was not a factor.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    So true!

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Speaking of throw-ins, I think every time their long throw-in guy (Gargan) took a throw, he was stepping on or over the line when he released it.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    you are allowed to step on the line

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Actually, you can step over the line...as long as one foot remains on the other side prior to release of the ball.

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    On the brighter side of life, TSG is hyping the Poland match at soldier field as the time to come out and honor McBride. Can we endorse that?
    http://theshinguardian.com/2010/09/09/tribute-send-mcbride-out-in-style-derossi-style/
    We should seriously do something for that, and request that McBride gets called up for this. He is a legend, after all.

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    For some of the Fire fans want De Los Cobos canned, here is a insight from mlssoccer.com

    http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/el-salvador-want-de-los-cobos-back

  • In reply to longoria3:

    i am undecided about this. the things that worry me most are the musical chairs lineups that bring no consistency to this team, and the seeming lack of offensive cohesion or plan

    on the other hand, he had a lot of injuries to deal with early, and a fair bunch of new players to merge onto the team of late

    what i'd really like to know is, what is his plan to get this team playing more attractive attacking soccer? because with this group of players its seems like it should be possible

  • In reply to oliotya:

    The telecast was terrible, for sure. Someone needs to inform Dan Kelley the difference between a goal kick and a free kick.

    Just because the goalkeeper kicks it, that doesn't mean it's a goal kick!

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