Another day, another draw. With the season roughly one-third of the way complete the Fire have managed only one MLS victory. That in and of itself isn't the most frustrating part of the campaign to date. The gnawing part is that the Fire really haven't played all that badly as a whole thoughout the first eleven matches. They've just played badly enough not to win.
They've generated enough offensively to rank higher and improve their standing in the Eastern Conference but defensive issues continue to sink any hopes of doing anything but tie. It seems that just about every mistake or lapse is resulting in goals for the opposition. Last week Philadelphia scored two improbable goals and this weekend San Jose scored in the 49th minute after no Fire defender decided to mark Ramiro Corrales on a corner kick chance. The Fire had the better of the play up until that point and Diego Chaves even managed to hit the post, in fact both posts, in the sixth minute.
"Again on a dead ball, a set piece, we receive (give up) a goal," said Carlos De Los Cobos after the match. "In the first minutes of the second half, a very important moment, we lose focus/concentration. We're losing concentration in these moments. It's not only the guys in the back because everybody needs to be involved in defending. We're losing concentration and this is the problem."
You can listen to De Los Cobos' entire post game press conference here. DLC discusses defensive problems, his relationship with the team, and his decision to make Sean Johnson the starting goalkeeper again.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - Came up with three saves in his return to the starting eleven but only one was relatively difficult. A 61st minute save on a low deflected shot by Wondolowski could have been tricky but Johnson managed to hold on, something he's had trouble with this season. Both of the San Jose goal's were on headers that would have required a miraculous stop to keep out of the net. Johnson seems to have regained his spot according to De Los Cobos.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Provided a few dangerous crosses and narrowly missed a scoring chance in the 39th minute after a build up with Oduro and Nazirit. The second San Jose goal did come from his side after Ampaipitakwong was left open as Segares attempted to help Pause with Corrales' run into the box.
D Cory Gibbs (6) - Strong on clearances and stepping up to intercept San Jose passes and even scored the Fire's second goal. The entire Fire defense looked flat footed on the first goal. "As a unit, we need to stop and take ownership over it. It's gotta stop. Every game it's something different. It's sad because, the position we're in we can't afford to be distracted," said Gibbs.
D Yamith Cuesta (5) - Played a fair game for most of the match but was caught out of position allowing Wondolowski a relatively unchallenged header for the second goal.
D Bratislav Ristic (5) - Continues to show versaility by playing multiple positions but right back is not his best spot. Beaten by Corrales on a few occasions in his second consecutive start over Jalil Anibaba. I repeat, Ristic is not a right back.
M Logan Pause (5) - Played a fairly solid match and even managed to keep the ball moving but he was beaten on the run by Corrales which led to the second San Jose goal. A faily lax defensive "team" effort on both opposing scores.
M Daniel Paladini (5) - Another player with a fair effort but not outstanding. Replaced by Husidic in the 70th minute.
M Marco Pappa (5) - Combined well with Chaves, Nazirit, and Oduro on occasion and even improved corner kick service somewhat but still tends to hang on to the ball too long in some instances where a quick pass would be more well suited.
M Dominic Oduro (5) - Scored the Fire's first goal on an opportunistic rebound shot off both posts. Started on the right side and moved to the left side midway through the first half. Oduro is less effective on the left side due to his reliance on right handed runs to the endline. A considerable bit easier to defend from the left.
F Diego Chaves (5) - Should have scored in the first half as his shot somehow managed to hit both posts. Decent effort from Chaves could easily have resulted in more. Lead pass to Oduro was also dangerous in the 62nd minute before being subbed out in the 74th.
F Cristian Nazirit (5) - His 57th minute blast managed to also hit both posts without going in but the rebound fell to Oduro for the tying score. Did free himself for a good look in the 44th minute but his shot was directly at Busch. A promising MLS debut for Nazirit but not necessarily spectacular as he works his way back into full match fitness. He was also one of the players guilty of lax marking on Corrales' goal.
F Orr Barouch (5) - Came in for Chaves in the 74th minutes but didn't factor heavily going forward.
M Baggio Husidic (6) - Came in for Paladini in the 76th minute and after an errant pass or two provided excellent service into Gibbs for the assist on the Fire's second goal. Did exactly what was expected of him as substitute as the team was in need of something offensively from center midfield.
M Gaston Puerari (5) - Slotted in for Oduro on the left side in the 81st minute, but too late to factor into any scoring chances.
C Carlos De Los Cobos (5) - The team's continued struggles to mark effectively on set pieces could be considered a reflection on the players and the coaching staff as a whole. Substitutions turned out well as Husidic factored into the tying goal.
At home next Saturday against the Seattle Sounders who ended Real Salt Lake's 29 match undefeated run at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Fire should have beaten Seattle in their last outing if not for the efforts of Kasey Keller. Home wins are now a must at every opportunity.