The finish to this match couldn't have been a more appropriate or fitting end for a team that has piled frustration on top of frustration for the better part of the past six months. An 88th minute deflected goal by Blaise Nkufo is probably the final nail in the coffin for any playoffs hopes in 2010.
The Fire did manage to improve the effort offensively in the first half but really didn't create any stellar scoring chances outside of Marco Pappa's shot late in the half which was saved by Kasey Keller. Carlos De Los Cobos employed a 4-4-2 formation hoping to create some chances with the speed of Freddie Ljungberg and Calen Carr up front. Those chances were scarce and the Fire were shut out yet again. The team has not scored from the run of play since the Houston game on August 21.
Six games remain in the season and the Fire will now be playing out the string for only the second time in franchise history.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - Did manage four saves although none were of the particularly difficult variety. Some miscues and apparent miscommunication resulted in a few Seattle half chances. Nkufo's goal was the result of a deflection and there wasn't much Johnson could do to stop it.
D Bratislav Ristic (5) - Played out of position at right back due to injuries and didn't play badly. His only error came in the 33rd minute when he lost the ball in the Fire's half allowing Steve Zakuani to charge in on goal and get off a weak shot that was handled easily by Johnson.
D CJ Brown (5) - Was the victim of Nkufo's goal, deflecting his shot into the net as he fell backwards. The goal was unfortunate as the Fire tried weakly to press forward in hopes of netting a late score.
D Kwame Watson-Siriboe (6) - Had one of his best outings of the season (if not the best). Came forward at the right time on several occasions to break up Seattle attacks. Seattle was not dangerous in the area as the Fire did well to contain Montero this time. Missed his mark on Nkufo in the 36th minute resulting in an open look but Seattle's cross was high over Nkufo's head.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Got forward a bit in the first half before being subbed out with an apparent injury in the 58th minute. While managing to get forward adequately his passing was not on target resulting in a few lost opportunities.
M Logan Pause (5) - Pause is steady but he just doesn't provide much if anything in terms of initiating a counter attack or even simply moving the ball forward to attacking players. He was subbed out in the 82nd minute in a late attempt to get more offensive weapons on the field.
M John Thorrington (5) - Returned from injury to play the full 90 minutes but provided little in the attack as an "attacking" midfielder.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Has yet to regain any semblance of his early season form. There are short flashes here and there but his touches usually culminate with an attempt to dribble through two or three defenders unsuccesfully.
M Marco Pappa (6) - Probably his best effort in quite some time. Pappa nearly put the Fire on the board late in the first half only to be denied by Keller. He provided three of the Fire's five shots on goal.
F Freddie Ljungberg (5) - Ljungberg was dynamic in his first few matches with the Fire but the offensive stagnation over the last few weeks has taken the lustre off his acquisition. He wasn't bad but he wasn't the force that the Fire needed either. Played at the withdrawn forward spot behind Carr.
F Calen Carr (4) - Got his first start of the season tonight in an effort to get more pace and movement into the attack. Unfortunately, Carr is better suited as a substitute providing late pace and movement. He was rarely in a position to score and provided little in terms of movement in the attack.
D Deris Umanzor (5) - Came on for Segares in the 58th minute and was caught out of position on Nkufo's goal as the Fire were pressing the attack.
F Brian McBride (4) - Entered the match in the 64th minute for Carr. When Ljungberg was first acquired the two seemed to have a connection working in brief spurts. There was no sign of that tonight.
F Collins John (4) - An 82nd minute substitute for Pause. The Fire's forwards lack the creativity to generate a shot on their own. John was fairly silent for 12 minutes including stoppage time.
Much of the Fire's offensive woes can be summarized by the lack of movement off the ball. It seems that most players are attempting to dribble through multiple defenders rather than keeping the ball moving on the ground.
Post Game Press Conference
Carlos De Los Cobos addressed the media after the match and answered questions about the lack of scoring, planning for next season, and losing close games.
You can listen to De Los Cobos and Freddie Ljungberg talk about the match here.
I am now officially stopping any attempts to decipher Fire playoff possibilities.