Fire 1 FC Dallas 1 - Recap and Ratings

Despite not being able to find a second goal after playing up a man for 35 minutes the Fire have to be fairly content with gaining a point on the road against one of the better sides in MLS last season.  Only several big saves by Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman denied the Fire the full three points. 

The debut of Uruguayans Diego Chaves and Gaston Puerari was a sucessful one.  Chaves scored the Fire's lone goal and narrowly missed another after hitting the crossbar early in the second half.  Puerari was dangerous throughout the match and consistently drew fouls from Dallas defenders attempting to slow him down. 

Carlos De Los Cobos started the match in the 3-5-2 formation that he's favored this spring but switched to a 4-4-2 in the 35th minute in order to counter Dallas' possesion. The home team outshot the Fire 11-2 in the first half although a good number of those were hopeful long distance attempts. 

Disappointing not to get the full three points but an encouraging start nonetheless.

GK Sean Johnson (6) - Johnson wasn't called upon to make many difficult stops despite Dallas' considerable first half edge in attempts.  He handled several long distance shots well although he does need to show some improvement in the air.  There wasn't much he could do on Rodriguez' cheeky back heel that resulted in the lone FCD goal.

D Jalil Anibaba (6) - Making his MLS debut Anibaba was solid and mistake free.  One foul call late in the game set up an FCD free kick in a dangerous spot, but the call was a rather weak one. 

D Josip Mikulic (7) - Cleared several balls in the area and stepped up to break down Dallas counter attacks when he had to.  He may not have the flash...or the hair of Wilman Conde but he appears to be a solid addition in central defense.  Picked up a yellow card after grabbing Ferreira's jersey but never got caught out of position in the middle. 

D Cory Gibbs (6) - The Fire's back line should be a strength this year as there appears to be good chemistry between Anibaba, Mikulic, and Gibbs.  Picked up a yellow card in the 30th minute trying to slow down Ferreira.

M Mike Videira (6) - De Los Cobos opted for a more defensive look in attempt to control Ferreia and Dallas' speedy wingers so Videira got the nod over Husidic.  Videira also picked up a yellow in the second half with a foul on the reigning league MVP. 

M Logan Pause (7) - Pause was the key man in controlling Ferreira and handled him well, actually stopping him 1v1 on a few occasions.  Also rocketed a well struck ball in the 90th minute that could have been a match winner forcing Hartman into a save.  Pause earned some plaudits in his first official game as captain. 

M Bratislav Ristic (5) - Went out in the 42nd minute with an injury but he'd had a tough day until then.  His passing was not as crisp as usual and he was beaten by Zach Lloyd to set up the lone Dallas goal.

M Marco Pappa (6) - His passing needs to improve if De Los Cobos' system is going to work.  His shot in the 93rd minute appeared to be headed into the left upper 90 but a fantastic save by Hartman preserved the draw for Dallas.  Tried a few of his trademark long distance bombs (one with the right foot) but both were off the mark.

M Gonzalo Segares (6) - Decent match for Segares after a tough 2010.  Did well to slot back into his customary left back spot yet still managed to get forward enough to cause some concern.  Managed to get a header on target in the 47th minute which was saved by Hartman. Also picked up a yellow card late. 

F Gaston Puerari (7) - Chaves scored the goal but Puerari's play offered the most encouraging sign of the night for the Fire offense.  Puerari forced Dallas defenders to pick up two yellow cards and one red card with his speed and pressure on the ball.  He also picked Brek Shea's pocket in the 6th minute which resulted in a dangerous chance but his touch after the steal was a bit long. After dispossesing Daniel Hernandez in the 60th minute, Puerari's 1v1 forced Hartman into another spectacular stop to keep Chicago from taking the lead.  He might have done better with the attempted finish or possibly could have passed the ball off for a better shot but his MLS debut has to be considered an impressive one.

F Diego Chaves (7) - Scored his first MLS goal on a rebound shot.  Scoring poacher's goals aren't necessarily luck, Chaves appears to fit in well with the system the Fire is trying to play.  Narrowly missed a second goal with a shot that hit the underside of the crossbar in the 49th minute.  Was also active in other chances and tracking back to midfield when necessary.

F Patrick Nyarko (6) - His pure speed will cause problems for every MLS defender and he did change the dynamic of the Fire's offensive look upon entering the game for Ristic in the 42nd minute.  This is why he needs to be in the starting eleven.  Nyarko's passing however left a bit to be desired and he still needs to be a bit more selfish when a scoring opportunity arises.

M Baggio Husidic (6) - Entered the match in the 63rd minute after Videira picked up a yellow card.  Was more active in the offensive third than Videira and could be back in the starting eleven against Kansas City.  

F Orr Barouch (5) - Came on in the 76th minute for Chaves but didn't generate much in terms of scoring chances. 

C Carlos De Los Cobos (6) - Recognized the need to move away from his 3-5-2 formation in the 35th minute when the Fire shifted into a 4-4-2 to address Dallas' control of possesion.  Also wisely substituted Husidic for Videira at the right time.  Picking up a point in Dallas is a good result but Nyarko needs to be in the first eleven.

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  • Agree about Nyarko being in the 1st eleven. Vidiera looked ok, but I get the defensive look to start against FCD.

    It was great to see Chaves put it in the back of the net, as well as nearly putting in a 2nd goal, but I was most excited about Puerari's performance. He showed some great speed and agility. As many good chances as the offense had against a solid team on their home pitch, I don't think we have nearly as much to worry about offensively as we did a week ago.

  • Pavel Pardo interested in coming to the Fire?.........

    http://www.goal.com/es-us/news/2214/mercado/2011/03/18/2401420/exclusiva-mercado-p%C3%A1vel-pardo-ya-prepara-su-salida-a-la-mls

  • In reply to cesba:

    Guillerm, My Spanish is very limited Who is Pavel Pardo???
    Late in the second have when Hartman came out to challenge
    Puerari, Chavis was wide open by himself for any easy tap in if he would have received the ball.Then it would have been 2-1 Fire. When Orr came in at the end he wasn't
    passed the ball. Got the feeling Puerari wasn't too happy with Orr coming in for Chavis.

  • In reply to TigerJMS:

    Sorry Guillermo, my spelling mistake!

  • In reply to TigerJMS:

    The passing was a bit shoddy, for sure, but there was some sloppy play on both sides that I attributed more to a season opener than I do team dynamics or ability. Given a few games, I think we'll see def. improvement in this squad...so long as DLC doesn't play musical chairs with the lineup this season. :)

  • In reply to DFBJeff:

    Definitely agree on the issue of musical chairs.

  • In reply to DFBJeff:

    No referee grades this year? Didn't think it was the sharpest game from our arbitrator. The red to Shea was harsh, as was a yellow to one of our boys (Mikulic? I can't remember) plus I remember screaming at the screen when he wouldn't play an advantage for us once or twice. The linesmen were good though.

  • In reply to cweimers:

    i still dont get why people think that red was harsh. shea pulled on puerarri's shoulder from behind to slow him down. clear foul, and puerarri was on his way for a shot without the foul. i thought it was a fairly clear DOGSO foul.

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    3 different refs at bigsoccer also think vaughn got that call correct

    http://www.bigsoccer.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1686265&page=4

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    I am not a big fan Terry Vaughn. IMO, he is foul and card happy.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    That may be true but overall, he still is one of the better refs in the league and fairly consistant which displays one of the weakest areas of MLS, sub-par officiating.

  • In reply to DFBJeff:

    We are close to getting that Brimstone Cup back and I would be estatic if they did. It really sucks that it has been in the Lone Star State so long. I was in PHP a few years ago when Dallas got the tie or win they needed to retain the Cup and they were parading it around like crazy people. It stings to this day.

    Comment 2: What is with the CSN ticker. As soon as it got to the MLS portion it transitioned to ALERT. I can tell I'm going to be frustrated with that station. By the way, was this a joint Chi-Dal feed? It appeared as if they took the Chicago guy (Kelly) and the Dallas guy (Rhine), put them in the booth and ran several FC Dallas announcements with an occasional Fire note.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    It was indeed a shared feed with FC Dallas.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    no joke--when we get that Brimstone Cup back we are ging to melt it down.

  • In reply to giaco:

    good idea

  • In reply to giaco:

    chris rolfe finally got back into a match after 11 months of injury

  • In reply to giaco:

    Nyarko says he's not 100% yet but he's close......

    ttp://www.suntimes.com/sports/soccer/fire/4420731-417/pluses-evident-for-fire-in-opening-tie.html

  • In reply to cesba:

    http://www.suntimes.com/sports/soccer/fire/4420731-417/pluses-evident-for-fire-in-opening-tie.html

    Just wanted to give you a helping hand before some one asked why the link wasn't working. Guess ComicCon was a little rough, ay Guille? :)

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Thanks......yes, still recovering from the excitement of C2E2 ;)

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    GR, Any word on the signings are Pari and Ferrari in?

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Those 2 should be officially announced any day now.

  • In reply to Adam25:

    GR, any word on the broadcast team. We know Dan Kelly, but have the decided who he will be paired with in the booth or if they have hred a sideline reporter? While I know Chris Doran knows soccer, I just think he is somewhat boring. Anyway, it should be a nice balmy 35 degrees at game time on Saturday. Let's hope Section 8 Chicago rocks the place and warms everyone up!

  • In reply to Adam25:

    No word yet on who Kelly's partner will be in the booth. Doran definitely knows the game, I thought he did pretty well as both a sideline reporter and a color commentator. From what I understand there may be different sideline reporters for Comcast/My50 games.

  • In reply to TigerJMS:

    did anyone else think the jersey was a little plain? where was the "fire" across the chest? It looked like a practice jersey.

  • In reply to mintyfresh315:

    I actually like em the way they are, though just my opinion of course

  • In reply to Drew:

    they could have just put the 4 stars of the flag on the chest. sporting kc went with the plain look. come on we are better than that.

  • In reply to mintyfresh315:

    i spose they coulda written "this space for rent" across the front :)

  • In reply to TigerJMS:

    Overall, the Fire and FC Dallas game was superior on on both sides. First half, FC Dallas was attacking earlier and the Fire looked impressive with Puerari and Chaves on top. The only problem in that game was De Los Cobos starting Ristic and Videra ahead of Nyarko and Husidic. Videra and Ristic are guys who come off the bench if someone that is tired or struggling. Despite Logan Pause was a couple of steps too late that allowed Milton Rordiguez to go inside the box and scored, he was impressive in terms of moving the ball forward and an actual shot attempt at Kevin Hartman; he needs to have a big year. IMO, he is more relaxed with 5 midfielders with the help of Segares and other center mid to bail him out.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    I agree that Nyarko should be starting, though in general I'm a fan of Ristic. That said, last night was not his night. Vidiera shouldn't be starting either. I really prefer starting your best 11 and going from there.

    On Dallas' goal, I put the blame on Anibaba and Ristic getting burned...2 players with a chance to shut down that pass...I wouldn't put this on Pause or Johnson.

    Hartman was MOTM without a doubt, he played a fantastic game.

    A bummer that with 5 midfielders at the start that we couldn't control possession better. Glad DLC changed out of that formation and didn't force it.

    Really liked what the Uruguayans brought to the table, lots of speed and a high work rate...particularly Puerari...but can't deny that Chaves scored and had another excellent chance. These two seem to be a significant upgrade over last year's tandem, at least at first glance. I do feel better and more optimistic, not a bad start all in all.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Any one know if this would be a good thing at this point? he's 34, not sure how much he has left. any followers of the mexican league with an educated guess?

  • In reply to Drew:

    I don't think the Fire should go for this. They have a good group of young players coming through and the chances should be given to them to form a good chemistry. I also don't think that a 34 year old defensive midfielder would provide much of an impact for the team. Pause can play in that role well enough.

  • In reply to fire1020:

    I think it depends on the price and expectations. I don't think he should be a DP, but if we can bring him in for 200k, he could sit next to Pause, gives us some veteran know how, and if i remember correctly doesn't he have a nice shot from set pieces? Also, he would have to be willing to help the young guys learn. My biggest reservation would be that it would stunt husidic's growth as he would take his position

  • In reply to fire1020:

    Baggio needs to be in the starting 11. He's got good field awareness and is attack minded. (Consider the goals he scored last year just by heading to the front of the net.) With his deft passing touch, he can connect with that new strike tandem. For some reason, he does not rate with De Los Cobos.

  • In reply to Kurtis5343:

    he does have the one weakness of being slow - and last nite dallas was the much quicker team, so i understand not starting baggio for that match

  • Being in the hinterlands of "Fire Nation", I wasn't able to watch the game. (Tried streaming video too late) However, it sounds like this was an auspicious start for the Fire. My gut was trying to tell me that the Uruguayans could be a major surprise for the Fire (and possibly MLS) and my gut may be on to something. GR -- I think you have a tendency to give higher grades than others but in the case of the first game on the road, I can't gritch too much about that. Regarding DLC, I will reserve my opinion. I am a believer in the Paul Gardner philosophy that successful coaches are those who are in the background. It appears that DLC didn't try anything particularly "cute" so for the time being I'm happy (sorta).
    BTW -- GR --Great writeup and analysis.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    Thanks shortpasses. I'm not sure who others are but I try to keep the grades as objective as possible. I actually have a method for determining how the ratings are assessed. See "the Ratings" tab above.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    Great write-up! I wasn't able to catch the first half, only watched the highlights today, but from what I saw in the second it was encouraging (albeit against 10 men). I thought prior to the game that 1 point would be a good result, and I still feel that way. I'd be more disappointed if the Fire had one goal and no other opportunities, but the offense looked dangerous from what I saw.

    And, for what it's worth, I was at a party with a bunch of people who aren't exactly "soccer people," and I snuck the game on in the second half and people were actually drawn to it, saying things like, "wow, that was nice, I didn't realize they were so fast/skilled in this league," etc etc... so it's the little things, ha. A couple guys actually were asking about the home opener and how much tickets are, ha.. I said buy season tickets, they're a great deal!

    mlsnet.com has all the highlights for all the games up, and it's worth your 15 minutes to watch all the highlights -- some pretty fun stuff.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    The quality of the league gets better every year. Some great goals and great crowds in MLS yesterday.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    I think the Videira and Nyarko ratings might be a bit high -- both of them struggled with their passing too much for my liking. And I'm trying to keep an open mind on de los Cobos this season, but one man's "saw the 3-5-2 wasn't working and changed it" is another man's "came out with the wrong tactics." I'd also argue that, with that starting lineup, we were effectively a 7-1-2 -- four out of five midfielders were in more defensive roles. I know you go slightly more conservative on the road, but that's maybe taking it a step too far. Reminds me of one match at Soldier Field when I think Dave Sarachan started at least three d-mids (out of Armas, Marsch, Pause and Scott Buete) in a 4-4-2.

  • In reply to notabbott:

    Videira was out there to essentially help Pause with Ferreira. It's undoubtedly a defensive move, which isn't always popular but I can understand the reasoning behind it. The jury is still out on the 3-5-2, but it takes some awareness and flexibilty on DLC's part to know when to move away from it.
    That four d-mid lineup is pure Sarachan gold. ;)

  • In reply to notabbott:

    I'm not sure how much credit Hartman should get for that save on Puerari. Gaston just banged it right into him. He has to make a cut or dish it off there, and there would be nothing that any keeper could do.

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    Puerari may have done better with the finish but Hartman came out and made it difficult for him.

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    I thought the game was ok, but i thought Dallas continued to look more dangerous even when down a man. Also, I didn't really like playing both Videra and Ristic, made the team to defensive imo. So like said above it was really like a 7 men back, where when Nyarko came on there was a bit more balance in the squad and it kept the fullback from flying into the attack, which makes the game easier on the backline. That being said Pause was terrific, The backline was pretty solid. However, we still struggle with possession and to many wasted passes made with out looking..

  • In reply to notabbott:

    Nery Castillo has scored his second goal of the season for Aris. The Fire still hold his rights so maybe they can get something for him come July.

  • In reply to cesba:

    The Fire deserve to get something back.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    Thanks for including the coach in the grades this season, much appreciated!

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