Incredibly, the Fire haven't won an MLS home game in almost five months. The last home victory on March 26 seems light years away as frustrations continue to mount in Bridgeview. The one glaring bright spot is the continued impressive play of mid season acquisition Sebastian Grazzini, who seems to be the playmaker that the team has been lacking for the better part of the last two seasons. Grazzini was subbed out in the 72nd minute and the team deflated immediately after his departure. Substitutions were a big talking point after the match as the Fire felt they let another chance at three points slip away yet again.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - He wasn't tested all night and only faced one shot on goal but it was unfortunately Wolff's equalizer. Made a spectacular save to deny DeRosario in the 42nd but the offisides flag was up so I guess it never really happened. His distribution and goal kicks must improve.
D Dan Gargan (6) - Another solid outing from Gargan after being acquired from Toronto. Did a solid job on Pontius and denied him on back to back tackles in the 20th minute.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) - Seems more at home at centerback than he does on the right side. Another good outing for Anibaba in helping to stifle DeRosario and Charlie Davies for most of the match.
D Yamith Cuesta (5) - He wasn't terrible but leaving Josh Wolff unattended (although he may have been offsides) is inexcusable. There really is no good reason why Josip Mikulic should not have started this match given Cuesta's recent struggles.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Did well to contain DC's speedy youngster Andy Najar and chipped in with some combinations going forward. "Every game we have to keep fighting back. It doesn't get any lower than this but we just have to keep pushing," said Segares after the game.
M Pavel Pardo (5) - Solid outing for Pardo in the holding mid role behind the trio of Grazzini, Pause, and Pappa ahead of him. DC United seldom challenged in the offensive third and had little space to operate in, unlike the New York game. His one free kick attempt in the 39th minute was weakly aimed right at Hamid. Commendably played 90 minutes for the third straight match after coming directly off of his offseason in Mexico.
M Logan Pause (5) - A good night for Pause as well and he even managed a solid shot on goal in the 52nd minute. Started on the right of Grazzini but freely moved back into a holding position next to Pardo.
M Marco Pappa (5) - Highlight of the night came on a very well struck free kick attempt in the 30th minute that forced Hamid into an acrobatic save. Why is he still taking corner kicks?
M Sebastian Grazzini (7) - Easily the Fire's man of the match. The team is completely different when he is on the pitch and the flow through midfield is night and day when he is off. After playing a full season in Argentina, which ended in July he should be fully fit but he has only played approximately 70 minutes in each of his three appearances. During his post game press conference, Klopas said he asked to be taken off because of fitness but Grazzini's take was slightly different. When asked if he was tired Grazzini responded, "No, the coach and I had talked and since I joined the team later in the season and didn’t do preseason, and considering we play four maybe five games in a two week period, he wants me to be in better shape for Sunday’s game". Grazzini continued, "Game after game I’m feeling better, I’m getting back in rhythm and I think I did better tonight and the coach told me he would take me out so that I’ll be available for the next match."
F Patrick Nyarko (6) - His effort was good again tonight as several dangerous crosses could easily have resulted in a score or two particularly a 43rd minute pass onto Oduro's foot that somehow didn't end up in the back of the net. Subbed out in the 86th minute.
F Dominic Oduro (5) - Involved in three great scoring chances in the first half which saw him come up empty all three times. A 9th minute shot after a good move to get free was stopped by Bill Hamid. A 14th minute shot after a great feed from Grazzini ended up hitting the inside of the post and bouncing away and he somehow missed a wide open net after Nyarko's pass led him to the door step in the 43rd. You've got to like the ability to create and be involved in chances but this is a clear example of how the Fire have dropped points all season.
M Daniel Paladini (5) - The offense went limp when he entered the match for Grazzini in the 72nd minute. One minute later he was unfortunately involved in the play which lead to an equalizer when he unwittingly guided a DC pass to Quaranta.
F Diego Chaves (5) - Came in for Pappa in the 86th minute and had one decent run in a passing sequence late.
M Orr Barouch (5) - Entered the match for Nyarko in the 86th and had one relatively weak shot on goal in stoppage time.
C Frank Klopas (4) - Once again the initial game plan produced a very good first half but questionable substitutions doomed the Fire to their usual fate. At this point in the season it's time to play for every game as if it's a do or die playoff game, consideration for the next match should be secondary. Grazzini at 50% is better than Paladini at 100% and the Argentine needed to stay on the pitch until at least the 80th minute. Substituting Barouch and Chaves at the same time for Pappa and Nyarko seemed a bit odd when there were still two holding midfielders on the pitch in Pause and Pardo. One of which is 35 years old and has played 90 minutes in each of the last three games while not playing since the Mexican season ended in May. Is Cuesta really a better choice than Mikukic?
Klopas addressed the blown offside call, the frustration of a record breaking 15 ties, and substitutions on his post game press conference. Listen to it here.
With regard to the Grazzini substitution Klopas offered this response, "I wanted to push him more today but he couldn't go, he told me he needed to come out. It's just a matter of fitness with him and unfortunately when you bring players in during the window sometimes they finish playing and they've been off for a couple months and they miss preseason. I wanted to push him more today but he gave everything he had. It's a big difference when he's on the field. He makes things happen when he gets the ball. We're a different team when he's on the field."
At home against Toronto FC.
Not so sweet 16?