Fire 0 Whitecaps 0 - Recap and Ratings

The good news is the Fire recorded their first clean sheet of the season.  A maligned and mistake prone defense managed to limit chances and maintained a shut out.  The bad news is the team failed to score for the first time all season and continued to miss chances that should be put away.  The result was particularly disturbing because expansion Vancouver had yet to record a point on the road after allowing six goals while going 0-3-0 in their first three road matches. 

The Whitecaps also played a 120 minute match on Wednesday night which explained their defensive posture for most of the game.  The Fire controlled the bulk of the possession throughout but failed to take advantage of a first half that should have seen them enter half time with at least a one goal lead.  Two glaring opportunities were wasted again as Dominic Oduro skied a clear cut look at goal in the 32nd minute and Diego Chaves struck the far post in the 44th.  

The second half provided no such chances as the Whitecaps seemed to have no interest in playing for anything other than a scoreless draw by dropping every man behind the ball. The Fire cooperated by appearing frustrated at the defensive tactics and launching several long distance prayer shots due to their inability to create chances on the ground.  Possession was vastly improved as the home team controlled the ball for most of the game but activity shouldn't be mistaken for accomplishment.  Large portions of the match featured the back line passing back and forth to each other laterally in an attempt to find a hole in the Vancouver defense that bent but didn't break.  The change in central midfield has improved ball movement but hasn't increased the number of chances created. 

Player Ratings

GK Jon Conway (6) - Only faced two shots on goal but did provide a big play possibly saving further embarrassment by taking the ball away from Eric Hassli on a breakaway chance in the 75th minute.  Hassli may have been offside to create the chance but Conway played it right after Hassli waited too long to pull the trigger. 

D Jalil Anibaba (6) - Played well along with the rest of the back line but his passing accuracy and crosssing needs to improve.  Several long distance diagonal pass attempts were easily intercepted by waiting Vancouver defenders.  Tried a long chip in the 41st minute that missed just wide. 

D Josip Mikulic (6) - Solid as usual and continues to show that his stability in the back is invaluable.  Hit with a yellow card in the 4th minute stopping a Vancouver chance that could have been disastrous.  Mikulic needs to stay healthy if the Fire are to regain any semblance of form.

D Yamith Cuesta (6) - Has been a surprisingly good addition performing admirably when called upon.  Mikulic and Cuesta defended Hassli well all night limiting his chances to the counter attack break in the 75th. 

D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Did very well against Whitecaps playmaker Chiumiento who was not dangerous all night.  Chiumiento was switched over to the opposite side later in the second half. 

M Daniel Paladini (5) - It was hoped that Paladini would provide a bit more offensive bite in place of the injured Logan Pause but that hasn't really been the case.  Hasn't played terribly but hasn't distinguished himself either.  

M Corben Bone (5) - Helped keep possession by moving the ball when the opportunity arose but the team needs more than just a player who can tap passes back and forth from this position.  More active offensively than Videira but his indecisiveness at times is still a problem that needs to be outgrown.  Another chance on goal in the 64th minute resulted in a shot high over the crossbar.  Did recover well defensively in the 73rd minute blocking a Vancouver shot and clearing the ball out of danger.  Subbed out in the 74th. 

M Dominic Oduro (5) - Continues to look dangerous by creating chances with speed alone.  Unfortunately the issues that paved his way out of Houston have made themselves apparent over the last few games.  His reputation as a bad finisher proved correct again after he wasted a clear look at goal with a shot high over the crossbar while the far post remained wide open in 32nd minute. 

M Marco Pappa (6) - Managed to get off several shots on goal but none were particularly dangerous.  Did provide the pass that sprung Oduro for his chance in the 32nd minute and also provided the pass that Chaves eventually clanked off the post.  Should have had two assists but his corner kick efforts, energy, and passing left something to be desired in the second half.

M Gaston Puerari (5) - Seems a bit lost and out of place while playing deeper into midfield.  His work rate and high pressure on the ball are not as effective when he is further away from goal.  Had a few flashes but nothing signficant.  Subbed out in the 84th. 

F Diego Chaves (5) - Uncharacteristically missed a glorious chance by hitting a ball of the post that should have put the Fire up 1-0 just before the half.  One of several players who appeared frustrated in the second half launching a long distance attempt that didn't come close.  Chaves did provide the best line of the night after the match. "Sometimes the ball is a spoiled girl.  She doesn't want to go in and when she doesn't want to go in it's finished".

M Baggio Husidic (5) - Entered the match in the 74th minute for Corben Bone.  Other than a few errants passes wasn''t involved much.

M Bratislav Ristic (5) - Saw his first game action since the opener after coming into the match in the 84th minute for Puerari.  Moved into a left midfield spot with Pappa on the right as the team shifted to a 4-4-2 hoping to generate something offensively.  It didn't work.

C Carlos De Los Cobos (5) - The Fire controlled possession and should have put the match away in the first half.  Switched away from the 4-1-4-1 formation late in the match after Ristic entered in a vain attempt to create something going forward. 

De Los Cobos continues to shoulder the blame for the lack of results and continues to back the effort of his players.  "We played with order, we were a solid team on the field.  We had the ball and moved the ball.  We had patience to find spaces and we found the space but we don't score", said De Los Cobos.  "I have a young team and they're working very good. I'm trying to create a good style to play but we have some guys who are learning," continued the coach, "I believe in my players.  I trust too much in my players.  They're trying every game to play good and to win."

"The way that you get results for me is very important.  I want to play football.  For me, it's very easy to put the ball forward with long balls but I don't like it.  I will die with my idea, with my philosophy to play.  I believe in myself and players and we're willing to keep working because we have a young team."  You can listen to De Los Cobos' entire post game press conference by clicking here as he continues to address his style of play and the formation change late in the match. 

De Los Cobos will now look to integrate Cristian Nazirit into the line up but if things don't improve considerably and soon, he could find himself on the outs.  The month of May looked to be an opportunity to make some waves and this was not a promising start. 

Next Up

On the road in Toronto next Saturday.  TFC is not a good team but they did defeat a Houston team with short rest on Saturday.  If you can't beat Vancouver at home, who can you beat?


MLS Salaries

The MLS Player's Union has released the 2011 player's salary information.  The Fire definitely have some room to play with.  More on this later as I now begin crunching some numbers. 



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  • sounds like DLC is putting the lack of results on his players. no? which sort of then falls on klopas' shoulders. i don't think he meant this in particular in his message, but by saying he has a young team that is learning, it doesn't exactly sound like he thinks he's been given the talent to win.

    who will be out of the playoff race sooner, the sox or fire?

  • In reply to Drew:

    There's some talent on this team but it is young talent. I don't think that's where he was going with his comments. The lack of quality in central midfield will ultimately kill them if things don't improve quickly.

  • In reply to Drew:

    i know he was brought in to play a certain style and win, but at what point to adjust your style a bit? It can still be an attractive type style with out playing his ideal style. We have players like nyarko and pappa who like to carry the ball.. they aren't the 1 or 2 touch players he wants. I dunno

  • In reply to Drew:

    "I will die with my idea, with my philosophy to play."

    This is maybe the most troubling quote I've read from him. You continue to play with that philosophy and fail to get what point does ownership want to win vs. having Carlos try to dictate his style on a team and in a league in which it doesn't work? Just seems incredibly stubborn and shortsighted.

    How many more games does it take before you cut bait on this experiment?

  • In reply to Drew:

    Now Nazarit is signed with the Fire, now they need some movement from their midfield to complement with Chaves and Puerari.

  • In reply to Drew:

    with Nazarit, if he is as good as advertised why not move to 4-3-3? or 4-3-2-1. something like that?

  • In reply to lijien:

    Earlier this year, the experiment with the 3-5-2 didn't last and I give DLC credit for not sticking with it. The 4-4-3 won't work with the central midfielders that are on this current roster. Their best bet at this point is the 4-1-4-1. Since the De Rosario trade, TFC is 1-2-4 but Winter considering what he is working with. I hope it is not an encore of last years 4-1 beatdown.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Earlier this year, the experiment with the 3-5-2 didn't last and I give DLC credit for not sticking with it. The 4-4-3 formation won't work with the central midfielders they have on this current roster. Their best bet at this point is the 4-1-4-1. Since the De Rosario trade, TFC is 1-2-4 but Winter is doing his best considering what he is working with. I hope the next match is not an encore of last years 4-1 beatdown due to missed assignments from the defenders.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    GR - agreed that Gaston did not have a prime time show in midfield. So what is next, test out Christian, new guy at mid? Or put Diego in at mid, with Gaston and Christian up top?
    More questions- was the D line really that good (I hope so) or was it just Vancouver is a lesser team?

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:

    IMO the chicago defense wasnt all that great - vancouver really didnt test them all that hard. and the few times they did test them, chicago was lucky they didnt get scored on. i still say mikulic was very lucky not to get sent off in the 4th-5th min whenever he rec'd the yellow

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    It was a bit of both.

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:

    The banner at the top is like the Sports Illustrated jinx. Who belongs there now, Pappa?

    Probably the only one who misses Conde in the back and in the box.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    Lol....I think you're right. The new ChicagoNow website update in June will do away with the banners. Fire Confidential will have a new logo.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    I've not seen anything about what I thought should have been a penalty kick when the Vancouver defender scissored down Chaves in the first half. It looked obvious to me.

    We have one victory this year. To the current worst team in MLS.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Chaves was asked about this after the match and he said he didn't think there was a foul.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    I was at the game and thought the Fire defense would have been burned left and right by any team with speed. For the most part, Vancouver was slow and lacked skills on the ball. Any decent forward would have torched them. Mikulic was lucky that he didn't get sent off, but the worst part was the fact that he was in that position the first place. The Fire back line did not communicate well and couldn't figure out if they were playing a high line or were going to drop back. It was really ugly. Even though the Fire had position, they could figure out how to pass the ball from he back line to the mids. Anibab, Mikulic, and Cuesta were basically playing catch half of the game. I say get rid of DLC. The team has not performed at all since he arrived. Let's face it, this team is going nowhere unless someone else runs it. As soon as he brought Ristic on, the entire crowd (what little there was of one) knew he was playing for the tie. I couldn't believe it. They are platying Vancouver at home and he goes for the tie!! DLC has to go.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Lots of reasons to not be optimistic. But we have a new attacker coming on board. Chaves should not be expected to score every game, but I'll be shocked if he does not score again. As far as feeling good about the mid-field, a healthy Ristic n Nyarko make a difference. The younger mids should be better in June/ July than they are now. Ordoro can't miss every shot. It's bad out there, but all in, for all 90, for all games left. These players can't be happy with things, and they should all be like Chaves and "live for the goal."

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:

    Oduro can't miss every shot, oh! yes he can and hopefully Nazarite will replace him, at least he knows where the goal is, Oduro's goal history is almost non-existent.
    The defense looked fairly good, but one wonders what would have happened if the Fire faced a more dynamic offense.
    Can't see why some feel that Mikulic should have received a red card, looked like a yellow
    card offense from my view, have seen worse fouls not even called by MLS officiating.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    i thought it was red because he was fouling from behind on a goal scoring oppotunity.

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Mikulic wasn't the last man back. If he was, the red would have been warranted.

  • In reply to Gibbeldinho:

    It was pretty darn close. I only saw it live and did not have the benefit of a replay, but it looked close enough that the ref would have been justified in giving a red. Folks on our side thought the non-penalty on Chaves was a make-up call for the non-red. But since Chaves didn't think there was a foul, that negates that theory. Let's start speculating who the enxt coach should be. Here is a list of potential candidates:

    1. Tim Linehan (Current NU Coach)
    2. Denis Hamlet (maybe he wasn't as bad as we thought)
    3. Preki
    4. Jesse Marsch

  • In reply to SoccerNewbie:

    Jesse Marsch

  • In reply to oliotya:

    this mite be a crazy change, but i'd put nyarko on left wing, oduro on right wing. chavez and nazarit at forwards, and pappa at A-mid. pappa seems better suited to the middle of the field anyway. when he is pinned on the flanks he does nothing of use, but in the middle of the field he either can take the shot or seems to be able to make a decent pass now and then

    puerari can then come in and sub for either of the 3 front players

  • In reply to oliotya:

    the ESPN site has a good review of last weekends match

    not attractive soccer gets repeated several times in the article, and i have to agree.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    crap game played by two crap teams.

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:

    C-Note, I do see a Samuel Eto'o comparison with Christian Nazarit stat wise. Eto'o's numbers: 44 games 17 goals in his 20th birthday compared to Nazarit's numbers: 55 games 16 goals. Maybe he is the next Eto'o but time will tell. As for Fire's defense, they got lucky because Vancouver isn't that good but then again, they held Colorado to one goal on the road.

  • Well, if things remain the same we'll have high draft picks and will be high on the allocation order list, etc. That's if you look at the world as if the glass is half full. Otherwise, I don't have much.

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