Fire 2 Toronto FC 2 - Recap and Ratings

A fourth consecutive draw once again displayed the positive and negative aspects of the Fire's 2011 season to date.  On the positive side the team continues to battle, create scoring chances, and improve on their possession game.  On the other hand another 1v1 with a goalkeeper was missed, miscues continue to cost goals against, and the Fire failed to gain all three points while matching up against a presumably lesser opponent. 

The Fire were out of sorts to start the match allowing Toronto attackers too much space and possession in the early going.  Despite holding a large advantage with the ball in the first half (62% to 38%) the Fire found themselves down 1-0 at half time as a result of an impressive 9th minute goal from rookie Joao Plata. 

Although a comeback from 2 goals down on the road is an admirable effort the same troubling patterns continue.  Particularly worrisome is the fact that Toronto was playing their 7th match in 22 days yet they were able to get the jump early on the Fire and despite large spells of possession, relatively soft defending resulted in two more goals allowed.  Fifteen goals surrendered in nine matches won't get the job done.  The Fire still need to tighten up defensively. 

Player Ratings

GK Jon Conway (5) - His gaffe in the 47th minute allowed TFC to take a 2-0 lead but he did come up with a nice save or two in the second half to keep his rating at 5.  A 62nd minute diving save on a headed shot and a 70th minute charging save to stop Stevanovic were the highlights.  One has to wonder if Sean Johnson will be back in the picture if healthy next weekend.

D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Got caught in space and didn't step up in time to challenge Plata on his early goal.  Anibaba was not totally at fault as a missed tackle allowed Plata the freedom in a dangerous area to make a move.  Does look to serve the ball forward when possible and almost succeeded in hitting a dangerous long ball into the box for Chaves in the 59th. 

D Cory Gibbs (5) - The Fire were scrambling and a bit disorganized early but they did settle down somewhat after a while.  Gibbs' best moment came in the 36th as a sprawling block prevented another chance from Plata.

D Yamith Cuesta (5) - Also got caught in space and didn't step up in time to prevent Plata's goal.  Looked like a forward in the 34th minute with a 50 yard unchallenged run to the top of Toronto's box.  Not a bad effort from Cuesta.

D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Not quite as involved in support as he usually is and had trouble handling passes on a few occasions.

M Daniel Paladini (5) - His ill advised tackle attempt allowed Plata to break free into space and score Toronto's first goal.  Also continued the Fire's tradition of missing 1v1 chances against opposing goalkeepers.  To be fair, Frei made a spectacular save on his chip attempt.  Despite those low lights Paladini did show some battle and bite while keeping the holding mid spot warm until Logan Pause returns.

M Corben Bone (7) - Easily Bone's best performance as a pro.  He was fairly quiet through the first 45 minutes or so but his emergence and willingness to attack defenders helped earn the point.  An excellent move to beat his mark and cross the ball to reach Barouch for the tying goal showed a glimpse of what made him a first round selection last season.  Also had another opportunity in the 48th but a cheeky shot at the near post was saved by Frei.  He may have been better served to pass to an apparently open and charging Oduro in front of goal.  He also did well on the other end of the pitch, clearing a TFC chance in the 73rd.  Bone also provided a perfect pass that led to Paladini's break away chance. 

M Marco Pappa (6) - A beautiful free kick goal in the 64th minute got the Fire back into the match.  Never afraid to take a shot when the opportunity arises but he's got to do better on corner kick service. 

M Dominic Oduro (5) - Always seems to be dangerous just because of his pace but several opportunities to shoot resulted in shots directly at Frei which were easily handled by the TFC keeper. 

M Gaston Puerari (5) - A little bit better from the center mid role in this match from Puerari but he still seems out of place in this position.  Managed a few decent combination passes and a shot on goal in the first half.  Quiet in the second half as Bone came forward.  Subbed for Barouch in the 58th.

F Diego Chaves (5) - Doesn't have a whole lot of help as the lone forward and took a bit of a beating from Toronto defenders.  Work rate is still top notch despite bounces not going his way at the moment.

M/F Orr Barouch (6) - Drew the foul that led to Pappa's free kick goal and scored the tying goal although it wasn't pretty.  Solid effort for Barouch.

M Baggio Husidic (5) - Came on in the 90th minute for Chaves.

M Bratislave Ristic (NR) - Came on in the dying seconds of extra time for Oduro as the Fire looked content to exit with a point.

C Carlos De Los Cobos (5) - The Fire came out flat but had it not been for Conway's gaffe the Fire could have won all three points.  Possession has been much improved over the last two matches with the 4-1-4-1 formation but the quality of the opponent should also be taken into consideration before getting too happy.  With draws piling up De Los Cobos has got be feeling some heat as a promising month of May has yielded only two points. 

Next Up

At Philadelphia next Saturday.  The Union got off to a great start but are coming back to the pack after getting badly outplayed in Dallas 2-0. 


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  • This team and this organization are sad. I wonder who will be around next year.

  • Going against Philly will be a really tough match. Maybe it's a coincidence but Chaves scoring has declined since Puerari moved to mid. Puerari should return to Fwd, let Barouch or Bone start in central mid. I hope that Nazirit is soon ready to play and as GR broke down the mysterious cap, if we have money to sign someone let's do that.
    Will young Victor Pineada ever get some minutes?

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:

    They'll likely add another player when the transfer window opens in July 15.

    I doubt we'll see Pineda on the field with the big team any time soon. He's going to be away with the U-18's for a bit and he should see some time in the reserve league before sticking him out there in MLS. He's mostly been a defensive mid in games that I've seen him play in.

  • It is a total mystery to me why cabos moved puerari to midfield. At the start of the season the two guys from south America seemed to offer a good combination. Since he made the move the opportunities or I should say the offense is not there.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Puerari was moved deeper into midfield in order to help compensate for the central midfielders getting run over. Although Puerari's chances haven't really been there, the team is still generating opportunities.

    No doubt, Puerari is better higher up on the pitch where his speed, work rate, and high pressure can cause problems for opposing defenders.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Am I the only one wondering if Chaves needs a break? He was ineffective and uninspiring the entire game yesterday. He looked gassed from the 15th minute on, seemed to have sustained some kind of quad tweak in a run from a Conway outlet, and overall has not been producing anything of substance the last few games, save a botched chance and an unlucky toe poke that missed by inches. I'm still more than confident in Chaves scoring ability, and I'm not dissing him, but the guy has played nearly every minute this season, and it seems he could use a game to just rest and recoup.

  • In reply to DFBJeff:

    I think that was part of the thinking behind the acquisition of Nazirit. Chaves will need a break at some point, especially if he's going to play as a lone forward.

    Btw, I've heard some pretty good scouting reports on Nazirit from people who follow Colombian football.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I hope so. I'd like to see Chaves get some needed rest. I think it would do him well, not only to recharge him, but I think doing so could actually help him generate some offense again.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Off topic - was watching hockey, (Niemi / Busch both in San Jose) then game ends, on VS, there is ochocinco with a cowboy hat on a rodeo show... Is he still with KC?

  • In reply to cesba:

    Ok, he's done with KC, and this is not his first Ro- day-oh.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Johnson must have really fallen out of the good graces of the Fire , he has been out so long I wonder if he will ever get back in there. Conway let a bad goal in that cost the team 2 points , if he is still in there for the next game I doubt if we ever see him again.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    He was out with a quad strain for the Toronto game.

  • In reply to DFBJeff:

    I felt that every time Palladini touched the ball he either sent a back pass to Cuesta or Gibbs or an errant pass forward. The guy is not a play maker. I would love to know the stats on Palladini's completed passes versus bone's completed passes. Every time Bone had the ball, especially in the second half, he did something pretty good with it. One time he took a guy one v. one and did not get by him, but for the most part he knew what to do with the ball and made great combinations with Puerari, Oduro, or Chaves. The guy needs to have the ball more and Palladini less. We cannot score if they central mids are not looking to advance the ball. Back passes are important, but the opposing team knows that we are not going to send long balls over the top, so they mark tightly on our mids and forwards to take awat any chance of a throug ball. When we do go over the top or send something long, Oduro and Anibaba seem to make it work fairly succesfully. DLC has got to let the guys play. His pretty sopccer is getting to be pretty ugly.

  • In reply to SoccerNewbie:

    They seemed a little more direct with long balls in the first half. They should be able to incorporate both styles without compromising DLC's preferred style. If Bone can continue to show that he will beat tight marking 1v1 DLC's system will stand a better chance. You can't play that system with central midfielders who can't pass or break down a tight marking defense.

  • In reply to SoccerNewbie:

    so what is the difference in paladini passing backwards or pause passing backwards?

  • In reply to firefan1998:

    Pause is a better defender but Paladini adds the element of another possible attacker if needed. Pause will be back in there when healthy.

  • In reply to firefan1998:

    For the next game I would like to see the following changes.
    In Mid Field Replace Paladini with Josip Mikulic who is a much
    better option. Keep Pause on the Bench and Start Corban Bone
    again he really looked good in the second half.
    When healthy I would like to see Sean Johnson in place of Conway.
    Conway has allowed some "Very Saveable Balls Slip Through" and
    he is not the Goalie of the future anyways.

  • In reply to TigerJMS:

    If any defender should move up to DM it should be Anibaba. He's much better offensively than Mikulic. Cuesta apparently has spent some time at RB as well.

    That said, I look forward to Pause returning to the lineup.

  • In reply to firefan1998:

    Eric Wynalda talks about the Fire coaching job......

    Wynalda interviewed for the Fire job after Hamlett was released. Not sure where he got his info but the locker room after the Vancouver game wasn't exactly a party.

  • In reply to firefan1998:

    I think if you watch Pause, he turns far more often and forces the other team's mids to play him allowing the attack to progress. Palladini moves the ball from side to side. Toronto's fowards never bother to chase. At times Palladini wasn't within 10 yards of an opponent but he didn't know because he plays with his back to the goal. Problem is he is 60 yards from the goal. Pause turns, gets the ball to attacking mids or the wings, and generally passes back as his second option, not his first. At least that is my impression.

  • In reply to firefan1998:

    OK, this is not a joke:

    Oduro has to have been instructed to aim at the 'keeper and force him to make the save--given his woeful 'on frame' percentage for shooting, at least if he's aiming at the goalkeeper, he's aiming at the goal. I know it sounds stupid at first, but give it a few seconds and it almost makes too much sense.

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