Fire 1 Union 1 - Recap and Ratings

Fire 1 Union 1 - Recap and Ratings

Another day, another draw.

Although the Fire were the better team on the night, dominated the stat sheet, and were more dangerous throughout ninety minutes than their opponent they still couldn't manage to muster enough to gain all three points at home.  Sure, there were plenty of reasons for optimism.  Sebastian Grazzini was outstanding in central midfield despite not getting on the score sheet.  Pavel Pardo was solid for ninety minutes and scored the Fire's only goal.  Logan Pause proved more than capable at right back.  Defensively they were good enough to hold the Union to one shot on goal.  Unfortunately, the one shot on net resulted in Philadelphia's goal after a rather fortuitous bounce from a goal kick fell to Velijko Paunovic in a position to tee up a perfect shot.  That's been the story of the season through 21 matches.  So close but not good enough.

Frank Klopas was happy with the performance nonetheless.  "Obviously I'm very pleased with the performance of the team today.  I thought there was a sense of urgency right from the start.  There was a commitment from the whole group and I thought that everyone was ready to play and contribute.  I thought we played very well but we got a little bit unlucky in the first half," said Klopas after the match.   Klopas also addressed the play of Grazzini, Pardo, and his decision to play with one forward during his post game press conference.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (5) - Rarely tested but the Union's only shot on goal managed to find it's way into the net.  Strong on crosses and a bit better with distribution.  He can't be blamed for the goal but he didn't have much to do all night.

D Logan Pause (6) - Very solid game for Pause at right back, a position he has played before.  Very good on help defense in breaking up several Philadelphia pass attempts and even managed to get forward effectively enough to be involved offensively.  Provided a few decent crosses and some not so decent but still very effective match at right back for the team captain.  "It's a completely different role.  Playing holding mid you're kind of just that anchor, right back allows me to get up and down a little bit.  My first few years I played a lot of games there so I feel comfortable wherever I'm need to help the team," said Pause. (listen to his locker room comments here)

D Cory Gibbs (NR) - Left the match with what was described as a left lower leg injury in the 6th minute.

D Josip Mikulic (6) - Mikulic is just a steady central defender.  He essentially lost his starting spot after an injury but the Fire are fortunate to have at least three quality starting centerbacks on the roster.  Particularly good in the second half with a stop on Mwanga in the 81st and another break up in the 88th.

D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Philadelphia's wing players really provided very little throughout the match.  Segares was involved with a handful of decent combination plays with Grazzini and kept his side of the pitch in order.

D Jalil Anibaba (6) - Excellent job of filling in for Gibbs after the injury highlighted by a 1v1 stop against Mwanga in the 71st minute which prevented the Union forward from breaking in alone on goal.

M Daniel Paladini (5) - Stayed back defensively in tandem with Pardo.  Just happened to be the closest player to Paunovic on his long strike for goal but the fortunate bounce can't really be blamed on any one particular player.  A few weak long distance shots were easily handled by Mondragon but you can't fault the willingness to try if it's at the right time.  Fair but not outstanding night for Paladini.

M Pavel Pardo (6) - Already he's produced more than Nery Castillo......and for about $1.5 million dollars less to boot.  It shows something about the professionalism of Pardo that he can take two months off since the end of the FMF season and he's able to go 90 quality minutes one week after joining the team.  Besides the goal, he just missed springing Oduro with a ball over the top in the 31st minute.  Listen to Pardo's post game comments here. (Spanish and English)

M Marco Pappa (5) - A few instances of hustle and quality like a fantastic touch, run, and cross in the 30th minute and managed to send Oduro into the area twice with good feeds in the 61st and 67th minutes.  Also had a few frustrating moments like a pass behind Nazirit in the 73rd that should have been a goal scoring chance and a nagging tendency to hold on to the ball too long at inopportune times.

M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Fairly quiet night for Nyarko as the ball was at the feet of Grazzini or Pappa in most dangerous situations.  Good combination play with Segares in the 11th minute and a classy volley in the 40th minute that sailed just high of the crossbar where his highlights.  Provided the initial cross that led to Pardo's rebound goal.  Subbed out in the 82nd minute.

M Sebastian Grazzini (7) - The best player on the pitch while the Fire were controlling the match throughout the first 30 minutes.  Did exactly what the team was expecting from a central playmaker in that time setting up teammates and taking the shot himself when need be.  Started early with a good trap and feed to Nyarko in the 4th, continued with a shot that missed just high in the 22nd, a set up for Segares in the 32nd, and a pass to Oduro in the box in the 47th.  His energy and quality provided the impetus for the Fire's perceived improvement in this match.  He was subbed out in the 66th minute and Frank Klopas cited being "tired" as the reason for the substitution but Grazzini said he suffered a hard knock on the right thigh which tightened up forcing him out of the game.  He does feel he'll be ready for Sunday however.  (Spanish)

F Dominic Oduro (5) - Not really effective as a lone forward.  Managed to come up empty on several quality scoring chances.  Hesitation in the 67th allowed Mondragon to recover sufficiently to stop his attempt on goal.

F Cristian Nazirit (5) - Came in for Grazzini in the 66th but didn't figure in much of the action.

F Diego Chaves (5) - Entered the match for Nyarko in the 82nd.

C Frank Klopas (5) - The team was energetic and ready to play but the decision to start Oduro up top as the lone forward didn't work as planned.  Maintained a 4-5-1 formation after subbing Grazzini in the 66th by moving Pappa into the middle with Oduro on the right and Nazirit on top.  Good effort but it's the results that really matter.

Next Up

On the road in Vancouver on Sunday night.  Needless to say, this is a must win.


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  • you could really see the difference in the team once grazzini was subbed out. they just didnt have the organization towards scoring a goal that they had when he was in.

  • It felt like a 2 -1 Fire but your prediction was right on. Still feel MU game had more spirt... We'll see what happens on Sunday

  • The thing that botered me most about the game was seeing how hard Justin Mapp worked. I swear I never saw him work that hard in a Fire uniform. I liked seeing two to three Fire players rushing forward in the attack. Am I alone in thinking there was far more movement off of the ball last night than before? Oduro needs to be on the wing, the guy just cannot hold the ball up top. Nazarit is a stud and works so hard every time he is out there. The guy needs to be rewarded with more minutes.

  • finding players with technical talent is hard for mls clubs, b/c those are expensive for obvious reasons. but finding a F that can score consistently has got to be the #1 priority for the offseason. we've had countless missed scoring chances this season, which is why the team is where it is at (a long look up to the top of the table). putting some of those chances away would instantly make them a contending team, b/c at this point they seem to have most of the other parts of the team fairly well worked out. maybe an actual sponsor would give them the moolah to go find and pay someone what it takes to bring that sort of talent here to chicago (no offense to chaves, nazarit, oduro, nyarko, etc...while they are solid players and can start or play a role, they just don't quite have the talent that i'm hoping for for next season)

    anyway, it was great to see grazzini play well. i hope that continues, and based on his abilities, i think it will. that would be a huge upgrade and position filled.

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    In reply to Drew:

    I completely agree with Drew, the new GM of the Chicago Fire. Make it happen now!!!

  • i could be poached from my current job if the price is right...might take that sponsorship $ though! ;-)

  • klinsmann went pretty light on true forwards for his USMNT lineup

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    perhaps they are going to attempt to pass the ball into the back of the net?

  • GM Drew and First Ass't Waam, are there MLS strikers out there that you would like to see the Fire trade for? Why go outside he league if they can get someone already under contract with MLS. If I were to go outside of MLS I would consider Hercules Gomez. The guy can score and probably would work well with the team we have. What do you think?

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    In reply to Krasov:

    @Krasov - I have to admit, I don't know much about Gomez other than that he played once for the Galaxy, but alright, you baited me.... Let me play some fantasy here... I'm guessing that trading for somebody in MLS will be tough because we are perceived to be thin on talent at the moment. Players in demand, are possibly Nyarko, Pappa, Sega, Johnson and Bone (mainly because of recent high draft status). Out of those guys, would it be ridiculous of me to suggest trading Pappa? From the ONE game we have seen of Graz, I can assume that Graz is more than suitable to be the new general and distributor of the ball. That kinda makes Pappa our best player, yet one who doesn't really mix in the group anymore. Trading Pappa could fetch us at the moment a few of the best strikers in the game. Here's my dream. Send Pappa and next year's #1 Superdraft pick to NYRB for Juan Agudelo. (Have I lost total respect on these boards yet?)

  • In reply to Krasov:

    It would be righteous to get Gomez, but he'd have to go through the allocation process for returning USMNT players, no?

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    I believe you are correct Ufficio.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Since I'm now the GM (thanks guys!), I will not trade for a striker and give up needed players on the roster - plus, which GM would give up the type of players I'm seeking...the Henrys and Donovans...but would use the money that my newly hired sponsorship manager musters up to find a foreign striker (yeah, that's right, I'm creating a new position and hiring someone to actually get a sponsorship deal done...Krasov, you are hired). I'll be seeking players like Raul & Van Nistelroy, who are proven goal scorers that might want to come to the states for the experience and still show their elite (but slowing) class. I'm looking for maybe 2 years out of these players and then will move on to the next one if they slow down. These types of players would bring international cache, improve fan interest and that knack for the back of the net that the current players that we have don't possess. I'm not trading away players to get this, don't want to create weaknesses at other spots. Use the mighty (well, once mighty) dollar to sign someone in the off season and spend ALL YEAR with that player. I know the Fire is reading this, hire me..."do it, do it".

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    In reply to Drew:

    yes, Waam went crazy with his new found power. Don't ever give Waam power again. :)

  • Houston has acquired Honduran striker Carlos Costly.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Let's hope and pray that this will be a costly singing for Houston.

  • Wednesday was the most entertaining they have played all year. Grazzini, Pardo, and Paladini all wanted the ball. They were coming back to take it off the defenders feet so they didn't lose it like they usually do. Taking of Grazzini was a Denis Hamlett thing to do. Klopas needs to decide who he wants to play between Oduro and Nyarko. There isn't room for the both of them with Pardo and Pazzini in the squad. I liked Logan at right back. He was getting forward and he just has a soccer brain so he can play anywhere. He just left a lot to be desired with his crosses but what can you do. Johnson looked good too. Mikulic was a stud and it is really good that we have him back now. Nazarit should be up top in this formation especially when Grazzini is there to win the 2nd ball.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Grazzini said he took a hard knock on the right thigh that started to tigthen up on him and he wanted to make sure he was ready for Sunday so that's more the reason why he came off. It wasn't just a Hamlett-like substitution. ;)

    I agree with you on Oduro but the decision will have to be between Oduro, Nyarko, and Pappa. Oduro can't be a single forward and all three can't be on the field if Nazirit is the target man. Of course if they're comfortable enough with Pardo as the single holding mid then that changes things again.

  • problem with a single forward formation is you need mids willing to get forward and score. the ones who can score dont get forward (pappa usually scores from the edge of the box, husidic rarely goes into the box) and the ones who get forward can't shoot (nyarko doesnt shoot, oduro - who at least does shoot, just not always accurately enough)

    i'd like to see more opportunities like pardo took wednesday - when our wingers get deep, they should be looking for someone coming late into the box - they are nearly always open for a shot if you can get the ball to them, and it turns the defenders twice, so often just have the keeper to beat

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    In reply to CountChocula:

    CC - this post reminds me a perfect player for that role, he is Chris Rolfe.

  • I can't wait for 2012.

  • your poll question should have a third option of yes and no. yes it is a success because they won silverware and no it's not a success because they won silverware but failed to make the playoffs.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    that wouldn't be much of a poll, it'd be 100% yes&no. :)

  • Overheard on WSCR yesterday:
    Indulge me with a pet peeve of mine for one second......

    A caller phoned into the afternoon show hosted by Dan Bernstein and Lawrence Holmes with a comment about the Manchester United match and a question regarding Sean Johnson. Bernstein's immediate response to the question was, "Nobody's watching. Nobody cares," apparently unaware that 61,000 people were indeed watching at Soldier Field on July 23.
    The caller was cut off but Holmes chimed in and let Bernstein know that he had attended a few Fire games and they were entertaining but couldn't answer the caller's question. Bernstein's retort? "Nobody's watching but you can go ahead and help them out if you want."

    One has to wonder what Bernstein, the Score's resident know-it-all/Bob Costas wannabee who believes himself to be smarter than everyone else has against the local club? Could it be that he was chastised by station management a few seasons ago for attempting to dissuade his audience from supporting the Fire when they were an advertiser on the Score and his own program and he's still sour about it? Or maybe he's just not as smart as he thinks he is.

    The short exchange ended when Bernstein advised the caller (who was no longer on the air) to call Fred Huebner.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Happy to indulge you on this. I have to, reluctantly, admit I enjoy the Boers/Bornstein show but mainly listen for Bears stuff or generic sports personality talk. I have little interest or knowledge in baseball, hockey, and basketball. I think what we're seeing more and more now is the push-back from the old guard that wishes the growth in interest in soccer and it's continuing migration into the mainstream wasn't happening. Within a generation, the Fred Huebners will be the norm rather than the exception. The dinosaurs cling to the "They've been saying for decades that soccer was the next big thing and it never is" canard but the argument is getting weaker. The participation numbers have been going up since I hopped on the first youth soccer wave 30 years ago. It's inconceivable to me that the combination of massive number of youth players along with the fairly recent and remarkable amount of soccer product available live and on the screen will not continue to increase the importance of the sport. Kyle Rote Jr. was an oddity, Now Andy Nejar has a profile article in Sports Illustrated.

  • In reply to Doug:

    I couldn't agree with you more Doug. I've even heard some of the dinosaurs complaining that ESPN is now trying to "shove soccer down people's throats". It's getting harder and harder for them to ignore it and substantiate their weakening arguments.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    The 2014 World Cup is going to be a nightmare for them. A favorable time zone, ESPN's coverage being larger than 2010's huge amount and, very likely, a lot more Olympic-type corporate tie-ins. Many members of the US squad will be known to the casual US sports fan as will a score of big international names. And, if Herr Klinsmann gets the USMNT shaped up and we make a deep run, these same fans are going expect these jokers to be able to say something insightful rather than just passing the mike to Tommy Smyth and Shaka Hislop. Fortunately, I'll miss some of their squirming because, like a lot of Americans, I'll be in Brazil rooting the boys on.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    ESPN is probably one of the best barometers of soccer's popularity in the US. Unlike Bernstein, who is just a lone jackass, ESPN is the epitome of sports media business. What they cover is not based on outdated personal taste; they're out to make money. So if soccer is ESPN homepage news, it's because lots of people will read those articles and ESPN rakes in the advertising money. If soccer gets primetime coverage on ESPN networks, it's because people are tuning in and ESPN is making bank. Anyone who thinks ESPN is shoving soccer down anyone's throat clearly doesn't get it.

    Plus, intentionally ripping on a sports team from your own city (and not in a Cubs/Sox kind of way) just makes you a jerk. Jerks belong in New York, not Chicago.

  • Where's Murph's tool of the week award? He's an anti-fan of everything except maybe basketball anyway. Just there to rile people up.

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    So Guillermo...
    Are we to not expect any more player movement? After all, we have been discussing a new striker, and I'm pretty sure Frank has had this thought once or twice yesterday night.

  • In reply to waam:

    I think the moves are done for this season.

  • There is definitely no bigger know-it-all jackass than Bernstein. A real sign of intelligence is being aware of what you do not know. When you think you know everything, there is not much hope. Bernstein's attitude is, "It's my show and I'll cut off anyone I want to. If you don't like it, tough."

    Better for him to continue ignoring soccer. No chance of any intelligent discussion of the sport on that show.

  • In reply to ggorecki:

    That is very true ggor. I do enjoy programming on the Score and ESPN1000 from time to time but there are also unlistenable aspects of both.

    Bernstein did see fit to spend 10 minutes licking Howard Sudburry's boots this afternoon while helping promote the up and coming popular spectator sport racing. Surely there must be tons of listeners who are watching and paying attention to the ponies at Arlington Park. Oh wait......

  • Bernstein is a total tool. I have heard him slam soccer so many times. He thinks because he went to Duke that he is a genius or something. The guy is so insulting to every single caller. I cannot figure out how he stays on the air. He's always right. No caller has ever made a point that he actually thinks might be intelligent. The guy is a jerk. The fact that he does not like soccer is a good thing because soccer does not need idiots like him supporting it.

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