The Fire played to yet another 0-0 draw for their tenth tie of the season. Neither team created many opportunities and Real Salt Lake failed to even register a shot on goal in the second half. The New York match on Sunday will mark the half way point of the MLS season and it still seems that we're still not exactly sure what this team is capable of accomplishing.
One thing is certain and continues to be painfully evident. Although the current roster includes several talented players, frustration and unfinished chances will continue to accumulate if the team does not add a facilitator capable of providing the imagination and technical ability required to complete passes and provide service in the final third. Baggio Husidic, Daniel Paladini, and Corben Bone are all serviceable parts at this point but the team is missing a piece of the puzzle that's not easily found. Until then 0-0 may continue to be the theme in 2011.
GK Sean Johnson (7) - He's seemingly found the form that earned him a call up to USMNT camp in January. A fourth clean sheet in five games was highlighted by a spectacular save in the 28th minute on Collen Warner's shot that easily could have given RSL the lead. With two saves on the night he was easily the Fire's man of the match although he wasn't tested in the second half.
D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Some ups and downs for Anibaba during this match. Had difficulty completing passes out of the back for much of the first half but provided a key block on another chance from Warner in the 45th minute. RSL tried to go at him early and he did respond adequately.
D Cory Gibbs (6) - Hit with a yellow card early on a tackle that eventually forced RSL's most dangerous player Fabian Espindola out of the match in the 7th minute. RSL had little penetration into the Fire's penalty area for much of the ninety minutes.
D Yamith Cuesta (6) - His slip in the box in the 28th minute provided the space for Warner's chance forcing Johnson into the acrobatic save of the day but did well otherwise.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - RSL tried on numerous occasions to slip Aghasyan behind him (perhaps after watching his struggles with Nyassi this past weekend in New England) but had little success. Struck a good ball on net in the 82nd minute that could have resulted in a good chance had it not been deflected out for a corner kick.
M Dominic Oduro (5) - Continues to create chances solely generated by his speed but the Olave/Borchers combination wasn't going to be caught chasing. He looked best while taking on defenders but his cross attempts were not good to say the least. Best chance came in the 53rd minute when his shot attempt was deflected by an RSL defender for a corner kick.
M Daniel Paladini (5) - Filled in creditably for Logan Pause on the defensive side so he wasn't as involved offensively as in previous matches. RSL's central midfield isn't particularly dangerous with Warner in the attacking spot.
M Baggio Husidic (5) - Quiet night for Husidic in central midfield with little play of any substance in the attacking third. Corner kick efforts were a bit of an improvement on his effort in New England but not much else in terms of highlights in this one as the center of the Fire midfield was largely ineffective going forward. Subbed out in the 80th minute.
M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Probably the Fire's best player going forward but that's not saying a whole lot. Managed to create a decent chance with pace in the 62nd minute but the angle of his shot was so that Rimando handled it easily. Also helped in tracking back defensively.
F Diego Chaves (5) - As a second forward Chaves seems to be picking up the ball too close to midfield to be truly effective. Needs to be closer to the goal but the Fire lack a central playmaker so he's been forced into the position with either Nazirit or Barouch ahead of him. A few decent touches and attempts but nothing truly dangerous. Subbed out in the 86th.
F Orr Barouch (5) - In his first start Barouch didn't provide the chances that he had while coming off the bench. Not bad, but not outstanding either. His 54th minute header from a corner kick almost connected with a charging Gibbs near the RSL goal. Subbed out in the 69th minute shortly after picking up a yellow card for simulation in the box.
M Marco Pappa (6) - Klopas felt he needed to rest him briefly after travelling in from Gold Cup play so he entered the match for Barouch in the 69th minute and assumed the left mid spot pushing Oduro forward. Almost managed to get a partially blocked shot by Rimando in the 78th minute. Provided a bit of a spark when he entered.
M Corben Bone (5) - Came into the match in the 80th minute for Husidic but wasn't involved in much of the play either.
F Gabriel Ferrari (5) - Came in for Chaves in the 86th minute and made a few late runs that failed to connect.
C Frank Klopas (5) - Substitutions seemed to be the right moves with Pappa's insertion moving Oduro into a forward spot but Bone probably could have seen the pitch a bit earlier. The defensive effort has improved since Klopas took over for CDLC but the results have been largely the same. Has to figure out a way to get the best offensive side possible on the pitch without sacrificing defensively.
In his post game press conference Klopas addresses central midfield issues, whether or not we'll see Pappa, Oduro, and Nyarko on the pitch at the same time more often, and the team's interest in Freddie Ljungberg. Listen to it here. (the answer to the Ljungberg question sounds like a no)
At home against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday. New York plays in Seattle on Thursday night.