The worst start in club history continues to get worse as a promising fixture list during the month of May has yielded only two points with one match remaining. In increasingly frustrating fashion the Fire didn't play a terrible game and the effort on the pitch was commendable but the results continue to mount against them. Mistakes at inopportune times and breakdowns which allow goals far too easily continue to be recurring problems that haven't been corrected.
This time Philadelphia scored twice on plays that looked fairly unthreatening. The Union's first score came after a free kick was awarded to the left of the Fire goal. Rather than an attempt to play the ball into the penalty area the Union passed back to the top of the box to Michael Farfan from about 30 yards away. Farfan's shot wasn't particularly well struck but the combination of a slight deflection and a wall in front of Jon Conway was enough to put the Union on the board. Ruiz's GOTW strike to give Philadelphia the win was impressive but Conway was also caught flat footed again on the play. The score marked the first time this season that Philadelphia has managed to score more than one goal in a match.
The Fire once again won the possession battle (53% to 47%) but they were unable to break down the Union's defense for clear chances until after Philadelphia took the lead. For all the talk of effort and "being close", the story is getting old quickly.
GK Jon Conway (5) - He wasn't terrible in goal but as mentioned above he was caught flat footed twice and was unable to get high enough to get a hand on Ruiz's shot. In fact,his feet barely left the ground. Conway can't be blamed for the team's run of form or the continued defensive break downs but perhaps it is time to replace him with Sean Johnson. Ten games into the season the Fire are playing to youth and the future of the club doesn't lie with Conway in goal. You know what you have in Conway, it's time to find out what Johnson really has. It can't get much worse.
D Bratislav Ristic (4) - Playing right back in place of Jalil Anibaba, Ristic is a capable fill in but he's a natural midfielder. Consistent infringement earned him a yellow card in the 30th minute on a senseless grab of LeToux's shirt and his foul led to the free kick which set up Farfan's goal. Not a particularly good outing for Ristic.
D Cory Gibbs (5) - May have gotten a touch on Farfan's ball to deflect it into the net past Conway, otherwise he wasn't impressive either. An awful back pass attempt to Conway in the 26th minute almost led to disaster.
D Yamith Cuesta (6) - Probably the best of the Fire defenders on the night. Cleared several balls out of dangerous areas after teammates were beaten and also got involved in the offensive third early just missing on a header attempt in the 11th minute.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Decent night for Segares but he too was out of position on several occasions.
M Daniel Paladini (5) - Provided a fine pass in traffic that freed Puerari in the 71st minute that should have been the Fire's second goal. Did well in the passing game moving the ball forward to Fire attackers when needed. Still finding his way defensively at the holding spot however, getting caught out of place on more than once occasion allowing too much space for Union attackers. Picked up his fourth yellow card in four matches.
M Corben Bone (5) - Not as aggressive in taking on defenders as he was in the second half last week but did find an unspectacular place moving the ball around in midfield. Was head scratchingly substituted for Pause in the 60th minute with the game tied at 0-0.
M Marco Pappa (5) - Held on to the ball way too long on several occasions when a quick pass was called for. Also went into "long distance prayer" mode late in the game unnecessarily. Service on free kicks and corners continues to be an issue.
M Dominic Oduro (6) - Will continue to cause problems for every outside back in MLS and this game was no different. Not only did he score the only goal on a fine individual effort but he also created other chances with pure speed. You have to wonder how Oduro has been in the league this long and defenders still haven't figured out that he will only go to his right.
M Baggio Husidic (5) - A non factor for most of the night before being subbed out in DLC's double sub move in the 60th minute.
F Diego Chaves (4) - May have aggravated the foot contusion injury that limited him in practice during the week. Chaves' passing was uncharacteristically bad in the first half before being removed at half time. He was also a non factor as the lone forward against the Union's tight defense.
F Orr Barouch (5) - Came in at half time for Chaves but didn't really factor into any dangerous opportunities. Appeared to fall back into midfield once Puerari entered the match and the Fire switched to a 4-4-2 with Oduro playing higher.
M Logan Pause (5) - Came into the game in the 60th minute for Bone while the match was scoreless. Cleared the weak free kick attempt that led to Ruiz's volley but he can't be faulted for that. Made an effort to move the ball forward when the Fire were down 2-1, but that just isn't what Pause does best.
F Gaston Puerari (5) - More lively than he has been as a midfielder in the 4-1-4-1 formation. Came in for Husidic in the 60th minute and played as a withdrawn forward, where he is best suited to play. Should have scored in the 71st minute but his shot headed for the net was cleared just before reaching the goal by Sheanon Williams. Four minutes later Ruiz would score to give the Union the lead.
C Carlos De Los Cobos (4) - Okay, the Fire did win the possession battle but the Union controlled the play for about 20 minutes in the first half with little answer from Chicago. A double substitution in the 60th minute bringing on Pause and Puerari for Bone and Husidic may have been an attempt to get more offensively in a 4-4-2 formation but the move to bring in Pause was wholly unnecessary when a central combination of Bone and Paladini would have been more threatening to Philadelphia. I preached patience a year ago when the thought of a coaching change was discussed but time is running short for De Los Cobos with the season almost a third of the way over.
A US Open Cup match up with the San Jose Earthquakes in California on Tuesday night. De Los Cobos may have looked ahead to this match up with Anibaba and Puerari starting on the bench in Philadelphia. Cristian Nazirit may also get a look in this match.
The Fire will also take on the same Earthquakes next Saturday night at Toyota Park. If three points aren't picked up here the pressure will really mount on De Los Cobos.