Fire Lose To Manchester United But Hold Their Own

Fire Lose To Manchester United But Hold Their Own

Yesterday's match against Manchester United was about as succesfull as an international club friendly can be without actually winning the game.  The home team represented themselves well, actually leading the Premiere League champions 1-0 for 65 minutes and playing well enough to earn a bit of respect from the local fans amid a disappointing season to date.  A record crowd for a Fire match of 61,308 packed Soldier Field and saw the Fire take the lead on Cory Gibbs' header in the 13th minute but the team's lack of quality finishing and touch in the final third kept them from extending the lead.

Despite the loss the Fire hopefully gained a bit of confidence as well as garnering some attention from the local "non-MLS" soccer crowd.

Standing Out

Several Fire players acquitted themselves very well on a big stage.  Among them Sean Johnson who stopped Dimitar Berbatov with a big save early and stoned him again later in the first half before the former Tottenham forward was ruled offside.  Marco Pappa, Patrick Nyarko, and Dominic Oduro also had their moments.  Sir Alex Ferguson was impressed with the Fire's play. " The center forward is a big strong lad, he can run that's for sure.  He's quick and creates lot's of problems at times," said Ferguson.

He was also complimentary of the Fire's first half performance, "They're very good on the counter attack with a lot of pace up front.  They gave us some problems and they could have scored a few more."

Not So Hot

In central midfield Baggio Husidic somehow missed a wide open net in the 52nd minute that should have doubled the lead and Daniel Paladini struggled a bit as well.  Both players will find it hard to come by playing time once Sebastian Grazzini is fully match fit and Pavel Pardo joins the team.

Sean Johnson was replaced by Jon Conway at the half and it's kind to say that Conway was.....well, let's just say not good.

Post Game

Frank Klopas talks about the crowd and his team's performance in his post game press conference.

Sir Alex Ferguson discusses possible additions to his squad and his impressions of the local team in post game as well.


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  • Seriously, Conway was really bad. Johnson probably would have stopped 2 out of 3 of those goals.

  • I missed about the first 23 minutes as I was out getting some work on my hockey skates. Consequently I only saw the Gibbs goal on replays. Still this has to be the most impressive performance I've seen from our side this year. If these guys don't continue to develope in the remainder of the season I'll be truely surprised. Despite the record and the performance issues there have been significant positives all season. Many of the negatives are to be expected with such a young team. Some excellent observations from Krasov in that preceding group of comments. I suspect we will start to see more runs off the ball as these guys begin to realize the damage they can do with their stamina and speed. If they can get into the playoffs, it may truely be a whole new season for these guys.

  • I liked what I saw from Grazzini. Seems like he's got Pappa-like footwork, but knows when to get rid of the ball. Saw him creating a good deal in the middle and going after 50/50 balls as well.

    Given that the three goals were the result of Conway, who mainly sees action against MLS reserve squads, and Mikulic, who's been relegated to a reserve role himself since coming back from injury, I'd say we fared well against the second best team in the world. If Frank kept his regulars in, and used a normal subbing pattern rather than cycling guys through to get as many guys as he could minutes, I think we would've seen a different game result.

  • hard to really say much about the match. its not like Man U was really playing defense. i mean, i never saw any of their back 4 really body up any of our forwards when they were about to recieve the ball. of course it was a friendly, so neither team wants to do anything remotely rough to begin with, but Man U really laid off & gave so much space, it just wasnt anything even remotely like a MLS match type defense

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    You're right Count, let's not make too much out of a friendly but you they did manage to play a decent game against one of the top clubs in the world. Friendly or not.

  • Random thoughts:
    It looked like Rooney and Diego had a quick "good game" exchange at the end of the game. I'm wondering what they said to each other exactly.

    I'm in favor of Dykstra, or someone else, being the backup keeper for next year.

    Baggio had a better year last year, I wonder is it that he lost his confidence. I'm not excusing his play, i want to know what he can do to score again.

    If Pardo is signing, then he and Grazzini have time to get situated before August 3rd. I'm almost ready to call this year a wash, but if these two can throw us a lifeline, then catch it.

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:

    I would expect an announcement on Pardo this week.

  • During warmups, Rooney and some other guy were lofting balls completely across the field from corner to corner while other guys were doing work at the edge of the penalty area and the keepers were warming up. It was pinpoint and seemingly effortless. Don't know if your standard MLS guy would be able to do that.

  • I totally agree that Sean would have stopped at least 2 of 3 goals. The 5 hole shot was just embarrassing. Rooney's "chip" goal was created 100% because of lack of communication that starts with the keeper. The thing that strikes me the most about the way United played was that there was a mentality of what they were trying to achieve i.e. who should be moving and where that they all seemed to understand. Whereas with the Fire when you see that, it is between one or two guys not the entire side on the field. How do you instill that movement and philosophy so that when the Fire get knew players they can be taught the system and simply be plugged into the line-up? United does that. You can see when players come to or leave United, they play well in the system and flow and move, but when they leave they do not have that same level. Look at Cristian Ronaldo at Real Madrid. He is still amazing, but he is nowhere near as feared as he was with United. It is not like is playing with less talent around him. He might be playing with more now. So it is both talent and the system that United employs that is beautiful to watch but frustrating for opposing teams/fans. It would be so amazing to be able to generate that movement off the ball. Obviously a lot easier said than done.
    Go Fire!!!

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Not sure if saying Ronaldo is nowhere near as feared as before is correct, given that he scored 40 goals in La Liga last year and 53 total, more than any season as Man U (according to Wiki). he's still the 2nd best player in the world. i think b/c messi is just so dominate that people don't pay as much attention to what Ronaldo is doing. plus, i'd also argue that Spanish teams don't get nearly as much press in the US as Premier League teams do, so you probably just don't see him on TV as much so don't think he's as feared or playing as well. He is.

    I think United's big advantage is they've had the same manager in charge for 25 years, which brings stability and a system in place. The Fire have only been around for less than 15 years and have had 2 coaches this's impossible to create a concrete system in a situation like that. That said, it'd be something to strive towards, having an identity that you can put in place and then seek players that fit the system. DLC tried that, but just didn't have the players or his system just wasn't right for the league.

  • In reply to Drew:

    A little of both but it's almost impossible to play the system that DLC was trying to implement with center midfielders who cant pass the ball forward or create offensively.

  • In reply to Drew:

    Drew, you cannot compare goals scored in La Liga to the EPL because except for Barca, Madrid and one or two other teams, the rest are horrendous. There is just no parity in that league as there is in te EPL where on any given day, a bottom table team can beat a giant. I'm just guessing, but I think that ha a lot to do with the fact that the leagues and have completely different revenue structures. In the EPL there is revenue sharing and in La Liga there isn't. In fact, I think each team negotiates its on TV rights which is why Barca and Real Madrid remain so rich and the rest of the league isn't. The real (no pun intended) test was to look at Ronaldo in Champions League play last year when he was healthy again. He was not anywhere near as dominant as he was when he played for United. I'm just basing that on observation so I could be totally wrong numbers wise.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    You've got a point about the TV contracts in La Liga, Krasov -- I'm not sure exactly how it works but I'm pretty sure you've basically got it right. But the same thing essentially happens in the EPL with rich owners. There's a reason no one other than Man U, Chelsea, and Arsenal have one the Premier League in 15 years.

    Like in England, there is actually a lot of parity in Spain below the Barca and RM. And it's not parity in the sense that they're all bad, but in the sense that on any given day, any team could beat any other. There are still those that rise up -- in the last few years, that's generally been Valencia, Villareal, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, and Athletic Bilbao. And as far as bottom dwellers beating giants... well, one of Barca's two losses was to Hercules, who were promoted for 2010-2011 and relegated at the end of the season.

    I just say this cause I really enjoy watching La Liga and, in my opinion, the overall quality of play is very, very far from horrendous. Barca and RM's domination is a problem, but the league is still very competitive.

  • i thought about this sunday and part of today, but i think that fergie is a coward. its amazing that he had to put in his regular starters to beat the reserves that the fire has. personnally i think it would have been nice to see their first 11 against our first 11. the only reason i can see why fergie has done this is because he doesn't want to be embarrassed by potentially losing to an mls team like last year. this is just my opinion but he has done this with every single game so far here in the states. so fergie it would have been nice for you to grow a pair and started your first 11 at the beginning of the game and not 65 minutes in, in my opinion. the fire did look good for 65 minutes. baggio not so much.

  • Fair enough, it's all just opinion, but he scored 6 goals last year in Champions League, only superseded once while playing with Man U, and scored less in all other Champions League tourneys while with Man U. If you go simply by the CL, he's more dangerous now than w/Man U.

    53 goals in 54 games - regardless if you think the talent in La Liga is worse overall, it's still a ridiculous tally and how he couldn't be just as feared as before would be beyond me. Again, just my opinion, but his stats are ridiculous (and I'm no Ronaldo fan, though I do love RM).

  • The Fire apparently have the ability to play up to the level of their opponents, good enough to stay in a game, but not quite good enough to win. Given the Fire's current standing in the league,
    one would expect them to be slapped around by Man U. but the game really wasn't over until the last 10 minutes or so.
    They probably will give themselves a better account against Man. U.
    than the MLS Allstars.
    As far as La Liga goes, there are several other fairly decent teams,
    Villa Real, Sevilla, and Valencia. Barca for the past few years seemingly doesn't have a great difficulty against them or Real Madrid, but occasionally stumbles against the lower level teams.

  • Nothing has been confirmed yet but rumors are circulating that Bratislav Ristic has been released by the Fire.

    This would open up an international slot for Pavel Pardo.

  • That's too bad I really like Ristic. He had some creativity when playing in the midfield and could cross a lot better than Alibaba.

  • And Banner keeps getting paid to do nothing. Ristic is pretty versatile.

  • I thought Ristic was ok as a fill in at right back but not as an every day starter.

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