Timbers 1 Fire 0 - Ratings and Recap

The Fire now have the dubious distinction of being the victim of the Portland Timbers' first MLS home win and their first MLS road win.  Facing an almost certain "must-win" situation against a struggling expansion side at home, the Fire failed miserably and continue to drop behind the pack in the race for a playoff spot.  As a result of tonight's action the Timbers have now leap-frogged Chicago in the overall table with 21 points.

Once again there was little positive action from the center of the pitch until the second half when Marco Pappa was moved behind two strikers out of necessity.  As currently constituted the Fire are much too easy to defend as long balls to Dominic Oduro can only work so often.  If the Fire are to have a chance of recovering anything from this season the new acquisition, Sebastian Grazzini will need to be better than just good.  He's going to have to be the type of player that can carry a team on his shoulders.  It's certainly an unfair expectation and one that may not even be realistic but it's painfully apparent that the cornerstone player capable of winning a result, even against the most lowly of opponents isn't on this roster yet.

It's probably easy enough to look for blame in the less than stellar officiating job done by referee Elias Bazakos.  In fact, Bazakos was awful but good teams overcome that at home against lesser opponents.  In this case the Fire are looking up at an expansion team that's beaten them twice.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (6) - A good enough performance by Johnson with six saves and he even guessed right on Jewsbury's spot kick but couldn't stop it.  Came up with a big save on Chara in the 16th minute after the midfielder maneuvered around defenders for a chance.

D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Decent effort by the Fire outside defenders against Portland's five man midfield attack.

D Cory Gibbs (6) - Clanked a header of the post and just missed scoring the Fire's first goal from a corner kick opportunity this season in the 44th minute.  Chara and Perlaza in reality were not that dangerous throughout the match.  "We knew it was a must win game for us.  I'm not saying our season's over but mentally it's a game that we wanted to win and had to win for our fans.  It didn't go our way but we have to look at ourselves collectively and push forward from here," said Gibbs after the match.

D Yamith Cuesta (5) - The victim of a highly questionable second yellow card in the 63rd minute.  Typically two yellow cards in six minutes would earn a lower rating than a 5 but given that the first yellow card was borderline and the second one was ludicrous the rating stays at a five.  Cuesta wasn't happy after the match but stopped short of firing on Bazakos.  "I didn't think the second one was a yellow but there's nothing you can do about it," said Cuesta.

D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Got a little more involved in the play going forward than he has been in the last few matches and drew a foul in a dangerous spot in the 39th minute. A victim of another dubious call in the 24th minute when Bazakos whistled him for an infraction in the penalty area against Perlaza.

M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Active with several good crosses and a few dangerous runs in the attacking third but nothing of any real consequence.  If only they had a passer with vision in the middle of the pitch that could take advantage of his skills.........

M Daniel Paladini (5) - Came up with a one-time shot that was easily saved in the 26th minute and provided the corner kick which led to Gibb's shot off the post.  Other than that it was tough going.  Subbed out at half time.

M Logan Pause (5) - Good effort from Pause but the Fire's complete lack of presence from the center of the pitch in the attacking third has been the death of them in the first half.

M Marco Pappa (6) - After a pretty quiet first 30 minutes  Pappa became more involved as the Fire seemed to sense the urgency of the situation.  He moved into a central role out of necessity in the second half as the Fire pressed for a game tying goal.  Pappa was much better in the second 45 but his highlights came from long distance attempts at goal.  He did test Perkins in the 37th minute forcing him into a big save and he did so several more times late.  Two long distance shots in the dying moments almost found their way past the Portland keeper but Perkins came up big again.  Corner kicks were not good again though.

F Dominic Oduro (5) - Teams are going to foul Oduro on his run-outs if they can catch him in order to neutralize his pace.  That's just the reality of the situation.  If you can take away his speed game, Oduro's passing isn't something team's will have to fear.  Moved to right midfield when Barouch entered after half time.

F Cristian Nazirit (5) - Tried to get on the end of a few errant crosses with no success.  Strikers need service and this team's front runners haven't had it all season.

F Orr Barouch (5) - His one highlight was a shot off the crossbar from a scramble in front of the net in 68th minute after a free kick.

Bratislav Ristic (NR) - Came in for Pause in the 88th minute, too late to make an impact.

Frank Klopas (5) - This team continues to make things more difficult for themselves than they need to be.  The organization and discipline has been better since Klopas took over for De Los Cobos but the bottom line is the results have not been much different.  Klopas discussed the officiating and his decision to start essentially the same line up three times in one week in his post game press conference, which you can listen to in it's entirety right here.

Next Up

A reserve match in Kansas City on Tuesday morning before facing Manchester United next Saturday night.  The next league match is at home against Philadelphia on August 3.



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  • Fire had to beat Portland at home and they did not get it done , we may look back that this game was truly the end.

  • In an interesting side note, the Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz spotted Pavel Pardo leaving Toyota Park tonight escorted by a Fire exec. He asked Klopas about Pardo's presence and the response was "He likes Chicago."

  • After the afternoon 4-3 instant classic between Seattle and Colorado, a total of three goals were scored in the five evening games. Four of those games ended in draws, three of those scoreless. The fifth game's only goal was off a very dubious penalty. What is going on this year?

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    I'm not sure what the reason is for the low scoring and the draws but it should be a legit concern for the league.

    It could be the parity caused by expansion or it could be the effect of adding an extra two playoff spots which allows teams to play safely resulting in draws. Whatever the reason, the amount of 0-0 draws this season is not a good thing.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Easy answer. It takes less skill to defend/destroy than it does to score/create. MLS represents the broader picture of native-born US soccer players despite the scattered foreign players. MLS should do what the EPL has done -- eliminate native players and rely on foreigners for entertaining soccer.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    Yes, but the league has been pretty entertaining the last three seasons with the same rules and players. This year has turned into a draw-fest.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    It could be that it is just easier to defend/destroy than it is to score/create. However, MLS is a perfect mirror of the current state of US soccer generally. It needs to do what the EPL has in effect done -- ignore the native players and just bring in as many foreigners as possible--preferably Latin. The greatest passer in the world needs someone on the end of his pass who can trap and dribble -- not too many US players fit that description.l

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    IMO - the MLS lack of scoring is because of the way the referees call the game

    MLS is such a physical league, the defenders are given a lot of leeway in what they are allowed to do. you want more scoring, then start calling fouls (for one thing in particular - call more fouls on defenders that push their arms into attackers going for high balls)

  • Hopefully Grazzini can acclimate and make things a little more exciting to watch sooner rather than later. Many MLS games are fast becoming hard to watch, really boring...

  • Klopas taking off Palladini and bringing on Barrouch was a huge mistake yesterday. We went to basically a 4-1-3-2 formation and left the entire midfield open because Nyarko and Oduro were not droping back to help defend. It lead to counter after counter which then lead to the 2nd yellow. We were playing fine in the first half and were creating some chances. That substitution would make sense in maybe the 65th or 70th minute but it killed us when it was made at half time. Logan had to defend the entire midfield by himself because nobody else in the mid has played defense in their careers.

    Oduro and Nyarko need to learn what to do when they beat their defenders on the wing. It is very hard to watch them beat the defender time after time and then play a terrible ball into the box.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Good points on Pause defending the middle solo but he may have to do that once Grazzini is on the pitch if they play him at the back a diamond alone. I'm not sure that will work so well.

    The missing piece with Oduro and Nyarko's games are what happens after beating their marks...which they do often. Valid points.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    What hurt us in the second half was the red card. Paladini wasn't playing all that well, his passing was mediocre, and he has to learn
    how to gauge his kicks better, instead of skying the ball.
    Actually there wasn't much to defend against in the second half as Portland went into pretty much went into a defensive shell which they could afford to do with a one goal lead and a man up.
    We need more creative play from the midfield, all the opponents have to do is drop back and cover the forwards due to the Fire's lack of a crisp attack from the midfield. Wish we kept Lowry,
    Husidic pretty much has disappeared. I remember the start of last season when the Fire had several midfield injuries, both Lowry and Husidic acquitted themselves pretty well, but now seemingly Husidic
    has two left feet.

  • As someone who has gone through several USSF and NSCAA coaching clinics / sessions / certifications … from the very start the emphasis is defense, defense and more defense. And when you are tired of playing defense, you play more defense.

    That’s what our college coaches are hearing. As are our high school and youth coaches. They all hear the same thing. It’s no wonder we’re seeing so many 0-0 ties.

    Where is the creativity? Where is encouraging our kids to expand their game and to try new things? It certainly isn’t coming from either of our national coaching organizations.

  • In reply to Lewis26:

    Lewis, it is Gulati's system and it isn't working. 18 million kids are in youth programs/clinics for soccer and they can't produce more Donovan's and Dempsey's around. United States have the resources to produce top caliber soccer players but they are not taught right. They need to hire foreign coaches from Spain, Colombia, Germany Argentina or Brazil to teach kids the proper fundamentals of soccer. IMO, let Klinsmann take over USSF and hire his own people to restructure the entire organization. I like Bradley but he has to get some heat for taking his team to the next level and he has 4 years to do it.

  • Not Fire related, but you gotta love Andrew Jennings. He is the one reporter that persistently continues to take FIFA to task. Here he exposes some of the shenanigans of our own Mr. Chuck Blazer.....


  • I sit in the southeast section of the stadium next to the away fans and for the first part of the first half, Patrick Nyarko was making the Portland's right back look like he wasn't even playing. Mid-way through, Nyarko and Oduro were switched and the team created no threats on goal. I hope Grazzini is all he's cracked up to be...

  • Frustrating math, but even more frustrating trying to read these comments. Guillermo, what is the logic in the order here? i have tried to follow it by threads, by time posted, etc, but it seems fairly random, and it's discouraging to further comments. I can't tell if I'm looking at a first post on some topic, or a last post. So I'm likely to abandon comments here - not that my comments are so great, but the interaction is something that I've enjoyed.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Your issues have been heard loud and clear. ChicagoNow is working to fix the comments sections and it should be back to the way it was before the change over to 2.0 some time in the next few weeks. Be patient and continue commenting....everyone's opinions are always appreciated.

  • has there been any thought to sitting pause? the one thing i saw is that pause slows everything down. pappa may have had more urgency on saturday but it seems like he is pulling a conde where he has said he wants to leave and a has already checked out.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    They should look at every possibility at this point. Personally I'd like to see a Grazzini/Paladini combination in the middle.

    Conde was horrid last season and was obviously riding it out. I don't get the same impression from Pappa.

  • Sporting Kansas City has acquired midfielder Jeferson Rodrigues Goncalves or just Jeferson (yes he's Brazilian) on loan as the team's second designated player.

    He's been described as a central attacking midfielder.

  • DC United has traded an international roster spot to New York in exchange for midfielder Austin Da Luz.

  • I've thought the same thing about Pappa. I can't decide if it's him 'checking out', or if he's still struggling since coming off Gold Cup duty. He created some good chances on Saturday, but he always couples that with horrible shot selection (numerous 2nd half shots in traffic), and his penchant all season for holding the ball too long before being swarmed by 4 defenders continues. Realizing he's tied w/ Oduro for the team lead in goals, I still think at this point he's doing us more harm than good. And it was proven while he was on Gold Cup duty that we can survive without him. I personally thought we had some solid games without him in the lineup during the GC.

    At this point, I'm willing to see us bring in a Pardo if it's going to help us turn a corner. But I'm also w/ you GR, I'd really like to see what a Grazzini/Paladini midfield would look like. Problem seems to be that Klopas is hellbent on keeping Pause in the lineup on seniority alone. His play has kept him no where near starting XI-worthy. On any top contending club, Pause is relegated to a sub with his play this year.

    It seems like Klopas is guilty of the opposite that CDLC was guilty of. Instead of getting a few different guys in the lineup to try to shake things up, Klopas is staying with basically the same lineup game in and game out. While I don't think it's necessary to change the lineup every game ala CDLC, it's apparent that guys like Pause and Pappa need a break, with a chance to give some other guys a shot at seeing what they can do on a more consistent basis.

    In that scenario, honestly, what's the WORST that can happen? At worst, we continue to draw/lose. At best, we start winning some games, and find our footing w/ a group of guys that flies in the face of a popularity contest.

  • In reply to DFBJeff:

    The issues that some seem to have with Pappa are with the negative aspects of his game that he's always had. Poor shot selection, attempting to dribblle through too many defenders, not playing defense hard enough, etc. He's one of the more talented wing players in the league imo, but his soccer IQ isn't particularly one that lends itself to being the focal point or leader on the pitch. By soccer IQ, I don't mean that he's not smart....I'm referring to how he sees the game unfold in the process of playing and making the right decisions for the club and the other 10 men on the pitch. He's surely talented but not enough for observers to ignore his shortcomings and shrug them off because the team isn't winning. Perhaps with the addition of Grazzini, Pappa will feel less pressure to try and force plays and settle into a more natural game for him as he will not feel the need to have to make something happen on his own.

    Your point about the holding mid spot is interesting and I believe it's something that Klopas will have to address very soon. Pause is a very good defender in his role when he is paired with another central mid playing next to him in a straight 4-4-2. In a diamond shaped alignment - which I'm assuming Klopas will employ with Grazzini on the pitch, Pause lacks the mobility and pace to play in the back of a diamond by himself. I'm not sure Paladini is the right fit there either but it's something I'd be interested to see.

    Pavel Pardo on the other hand, could fill that spot (at least the younger version of Pardo could) but I'm not exactly sure what he might have left in the tank at 35 years old. The Pardo situation is even more interesting considering his visit to Toyota Park this weekend. I've been told by more than one source that would have knowledge of the situation that the interest in Pardo was preliminary and he did not fit into the team's plans at this time. That was two weeks ago. Has that changed? I don't think so but if Pardo is willing to play for less than DP money on a short term contract then it's possible the team is taking another look.

    Rumor has it that Pardo would indeed consider the Fire for less than DP dollars due to his immense interest in MLS and his apparent fondness for the city of Chicago. Interesting indeed.

  • I believe that Pappa knows he can be a playmaker, so he tries taking things into his own hands. You can always tell in the run of play when he thinks he's going to be the "difference maker", when the team is down or tied and he starts launching 30 yd. shots.

    I agree re: soccer IQ as well, I've said often that he lacks proper field vision (which also prevents him from being a proper playmaker). He can't see what's unfolding on the field.

    In a diamond formation (and assuming Pardo isn't in the equation at this point), I think Paladini plays a better defensive mid than Pause. Putting Bone there would be a disservice to Bone, but either Paladini or Husidic could play in the back of a diamond effectively. Husidic has been used almost exclusively as an attacking mid, but he hasn't shown much there on a consistent basis.

    I think at this point, if Pardo's willing to take less money and he likes Chi that much, the Fire take another look at him. This weekend seemed to be a breaking point, much like the breaking point reached just a few days before the Fire let CDLC go. The rumbling around the team and fan base seems to be more intense since Saturday. If there's a time for Chicago to make any additional moves this year, this is that time.

  • I saw a rumor that Toronto FC is thinking of trading Julian de Guzman. I think he could be the perfect fit for the Fire's sole defensive mid. Thoughts?

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I'm not necessarily a fan of de Guzman and certainly not a fan of his price tag.

  • Krasov.....De Guzman doesn't strike fear as a holding midfielder like Jack Jewsbury does but De Guzman is an upgrade over Pause.

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