Whitecaps 4 Fire 2 - Recap and Ratings

In a long string of disappointing and just plain awful results in 2011 this one just may be the worst.  Facing what amounted to a "must win" match against the worst team in the league the Fire turned in one of their most disjointed performances of the year.  A 4-2 loss in Portland comes to mind and a listless 0-0 draw in Kansas City stick out for me but this one tops them both.  The Whitecaps sat at the bottom of the MLS table with 16 points and had scored only 21 goals in 22 matches.  The Fire now trail Toronto FC at the bottom of the East and are in a battle with Vancouver to earn the dubious distinction of "worst" in the league.  Few can argue that it hasn't been well deserved.

Defensively the Fire were out of sync from the first minute when Yamith Cuesta misplayed a ball allowing Eric Hassli to charge towards the front of the net unchallenged to give Vancouver the lead.  The back line appeared listless and unorganized for much of the match and the Whitecaps....yes the Whitecaps made them pay for it.  Hassli's second goal came from a rebound shot that saw four Vancouver attackers charge the net while no Fire defenders bothered to mark a man and only two managed to get lazily back.  In a  season where effort and tenacity have been lauded as positives these are not good signs.

More disturbingly the Fire have completed an 0-3-1 record against the two expansion sides (Vancouver and Portland) and look poised to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season while sitting ten points away from the 10th and final post season berth.  Only a US Open Cup victory can salvage anything from what is turning into a season more miserable than the one witnessed in 2010.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (5) - Somehow misjudged Koffie's long distance one-hopper in the 24 minute immediately after the Fire had tied the match but redeemed himself with a stop on Eric Hassli's penalty kick attempt in the 44th minute.  Only that play keeps the rating from dipping to a 4.

D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Mixed results with a few turnovers in the first half but it's hard to say any defender was effective when you allow four goals.

D Yamith Cuesta (3) - A nightmare of a first half for Cuesta that saw a mistake which resulted in the first Vancouver goal and a foul in the penalty area.  He was also absent in the middle for the final two scores.  Easily his worst effort in a Fire shirt.

D Josip Mikulic (4) - Looked uncharacteristically bad on Vancouver's third goal as he arrived late and allowed Camilo to turn and shoot in the box.  The middle of the Fire defense was tardy throughout the entire match.

D Logan Pause (5) - Beaten by Salinas on one run that did not result in a chance in the 9th minute but it's difficult to say that any Fire defender was effective.

M Daniel Paladini (4) - I'm not sure where the Fire's defenders in the middle of the pitch were all night but they certainly didn't appear interested in challenging Vancouver attackers.  Paladini's major contributions were two long distance prayer attempts that were not not close to goal.  Subbed out in the 70th minute.

M Pavel Pardo (5) - A handful of decent serves into the box but not much more.

M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Provided the lead ball which resulted in the Fire's second score.

M Marco Pappa (4) - Relatively non existent for the most of the night.  A non factor subbed out in the 57th minute.

M Sebastian Grazzini (5) - Provided the feed to Oduro which led to the game tying goal in the 23rd minute.  I'm not sure why he was subbed out in the 57th when the Fire trailed 3-1 unless the slight knock that he picked up on Wednesday was an issue.

F Dominic Oduro (5) - I questioned the reasoning behind playing Oduro as a lone forward but he did deliver on his one chance, scoring on a play in the 23rd minute after utilizing his speed to badly beat Alain Rochat.  He was fairly quiet after that and move out to the wing when Nazirit and Barouch entered the match.

F Orr Barouch (6) - Appeared to be one of the few of the men in red that realized tonight's match was a "must win".  He was unlucky to not have scored in the 59th minute when Nolly saved a shot a close range but he converted a shot without hitting the post in the 80th minute.  Came in for Grazzini in the 57th.

F Cristian Nazirit (5) - Subbed into the match in the  57th for Pappa but didn't figure into any scoring opportunities.

M Baggio Husidic (4) - Came into the match in the 70th minute for Paladini and immediately shot a ball wide and whiffed on a close in shot in the 76th.

C Frank Klopas (4) - When you get thumped 4-2 by a team that has trouble scoring and bears the tag of "worst" in the league you have to question the tactical decisions.  Substitutions were also a bit curious.  With the Fire trailing 3-1, Klopas chose to take off Grazzini instead of Paladini.  When asked about the decision Klopas said the reason was, "Because we were losing.  We put more forwards on and brought Oduro out wide to push the game and create space.  I felt that they (Grazzini and Pappa) were tired, they didn't create enough opportunities.  Grazzini, I thought on the first goal he did well, but then it's his second game and playing on turf and travelling, I felt that he looked tired to me."

Up Next

On the road against a struggling New York Red Bulls side with the playoffs but a dream.


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  • The Fire were 1-4-6 under De Los Cobos and now 1-3-7 under Klopas. Disturbing and very telling.

    This loss has also managed to almost erase any good feeling brought about in the Philadelphia match, although that was a game that should have been won and they failed to do so.

  • so will people stop with the in Klopas we trust now? Last year, I made comments about decisions, and failures to replace players, everyone blamed it on DLC. I am sure some will still blame DLC but the players were never there for the 1,2 touch system, and even now almost all the offensive players still need the ball on their feet and like to dribble, and with the new system are still as ineffective.

    I never understood the blind faith when his only prior coaching, TD experience from what i can see was with the chicago storm. Hopefully, we can pull something out in the open cup and be a spoiler down the road.

    just disappointed, i would like to see this lineup next game

    Pause, Mikulic, Anibaba, Sega
    oduro grazziani nyarko
    barouch -- nazarit(chaves)

  • In reply to lijien:

    I agree totally with your lineup.
    I appreciate Paladini's work effort but he seems to lack game I.Q.
    (He isn't the only Fire player that lacks game IQ.)
    The thing I noticed about Orr is that he understands his position
    better than practically any other Fire player understands theirs.
    (Grazinni and Pardo may be exceptions to the above)
    Guess we won't worry about big crowds at Toyota Park.
    The Fire looked so disorganized as if they never practiced together. The Fire are still not out of the hunt, but one has to wonder the future looks pretty bleak given the effort put forth by the team in a must win game.

  • In reply to lijien:

    I'd like to see that line up myself....nothing to lose.

  • In reply to lijien:

    yes, i like that lineup - tho if we had a better LB i'd replace segares. he's been sleepwalking thru this whole season. if i have to watch him let another pass go right by him and out of bounds again.... grrrr

  • Frank is in over his head as coach and TD. It will be some time before the organization recovers from this debacle. This is not a team, but a group of journeymen slapped together in the hopes they would play like one. There is no more room for additional band aids. The wound must be cleaned out so it can heal or it will continue to fester for another season...

  • GR-
    Yeah, that sums up the day, and the season. As rough as it is for us, the players have to be suffering on and off the field.
    At least the US Open Cup is possible.
    After The Detroit Lions lost everything, they did not suck as badly next season.

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    I would say, after this debacle. Even the US Open Cup looks impossible for them. I mean, what the heck happened out there? It looks like we may win one here and there, but we are not going to string victories together. We definitely looked the part of the "worst" team in the league.

  • The problem is that nobody is surprised; the Fire were picked for bottom or there abouts by everyone, including most on this blog. No real quality, no real movement before the season, and the release of Jon Busch for nothing, nada, when he clearly had value suggests the soccer people at the club are behind the mls curve. The league improves every year so even standing still is insufficient. Hire Bradley and get Marsch as his heir apparent.

  • In reply to Celt:

    I picked them to qualify for the #10 playoff spot......maybe I'm nuts.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Most of us were hopeful...At least there is no relegation!

  • In reply to DerSting:

    Maybe they should be relegated to the USL as the Bridgeview

  • The thing that bothers me the most is the lack of on the field discipline, the failure to maintain some type of shape and positioning.
    Although for the most part they outplayed the Union, the Union still
    maintained their positioning and some type of shape, too many times the Fire look so disorganized and only managed to tie due to
    individual effort of several players
    They have never completely jelled as a unit.
    The first several games under Frank they showed some team effort.
    After Vancouver's first goal, I thought what the hell, the Fire always gives up one goal a game due to an individual lapse on part of one of the defenders, still thinking the Fire would win 3-1.
    Either most of us overestimated the Fire's talent or there'e something foul within the Fire organization which is more likely.
    There is no excuse for the complete lack of defensive effort.
    Would like to see what this team would due under Nowak.
    Bet you would find a much higher degree of field awareness
    and accomplishment.

  • At seasons end we need a new technical director and coach first and foremost. The AYSO level of tactics and discipline need to stop. If we are lucky, Montreal will do us a favor and take a couple of our problems off of our hands, and with the second pick in the draft they can find an impact player. Hopefully, the new coach will have the players actually compete for positions, (Cuesta should ride the pine after yesterday...) and have some tactical acumen that the players will respect.

    As much as I like to see the posts that tweak the line ups, (I have also posted them) the last two seasons have clearly shown us the roster, and the way is is assembled and trained will not be playoff caliber, they just do not gel with each other. You can tweak it all you like, but the results will be the same. When was the last time you saw them make a quick succession of runs for each other? It is pass and stop, pass and stop... There is no magic formula here for line ups, the same ridiculous errors and issues have plagued the team all season, and a good part of last season.

    There is no easy fix to this debacle, and that is very sad.

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    In reply to DerSting:

    Yes there is a fix. Hire Bob Bradley, and let him run the scouting, the training, be the technical director, and coach - basically running the team. Mr. Hauptman, just relax, lean back and watch your franchise take a complete turnaround.

  • In reply to waam:

    Hauptman is a part of the problem, this is a hobby for him, he doesn't take it seriously. Look at his administration, most could not find work in a usl organization.

    I would like to find someone who would buy this team and EXPECT results, not just a casual onlooker. Any owner of a team who allows back to back seasons of dreck and does not call out the coach, TD or GM and demand explanations or better results lacks commitment to winning.

    If I owned the team and saw all of the empty seats game after game and the lack of quality on the field I would be embarrassed. Something about pride in ownership or something like that. Oh well, must be one of thosevgolden rule type things...

  • In reply to DerSting:

    I think you have hit on a key element.
    Obtaining talent is one thing, how they fit in is another.
    A good example is Barca, you either play Barca ball or
    you're out even if you're a big name star.
    I believe the Fire has individual talent but how that
    talent fits in is lacking.
    When watching the Reserves play, I noticed how well Nazarit and
    Orr seemed to be one the same page and wondered why they never started as a unit. They'll will make mistakes due to lack of experience and youth but their development will be limited by remaining on the reserves..
    It will be interesting the Fire will protect in the expansion draft, hopefully they won't make the same mistake as last year, by letting go of Lowry who could outplay Paladini any day of the week. The Fire have numerous players in the 24/25 age range.
    There's a soccer axiom that if a player doesn't show by age 24, they ain't going to show. Currently, the Fire have a collection of players but not a team.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    How many can we protect? 11?

    Am I right in assuming Johnson and Bone are no longer exempt from the expansion draft?

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    Johnson will surely graduate from Generation Adidas this off season so they will need to protect him and his salary will count against the "cap". Since MLS really hasn't clarified the rules for graduation and it's supposedly based on playing time Bone may remain in the program and therefore not have to be protected or count against the cap.

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    is there more than 11 that we'd want to protect anyways?

  • Wow! Just waiting for Klopas to blame it all on CDC. Just like Obama blaming it on Bush. Fire Leo P as he is really the problem and clearly has no clue. Have you ever seen him yell at players! This was supposed to be a rebuilding year yet the future has been sacrificed by thinking you can win games by just trading for talent. Where is the coaching on this team. At least with CDC this team possessed the ball made one touch passes and the group on pitch has same game plan. Since Klopas has taken helm they have played so direct that each player plays like individuals looking out for a new contract. Time to just refocus on the future. Why did we add six month contracts when season is lost. So Klopas could continue to support all of his bad decisions! Watch out as every player except Pause is being shopped so Klopas can save his own ---!

  • In reply to bigdog:

    Do you suffer from Amnesia? What is it about the Bush meltdown of the economy did you miss? klopas hired DLC so your analogy is incoherent at every level.

  • Many of the country' problems were initiated by Bush if you would care to check out the nation's recent history.
    I don't think Klopas is going to blame CDC since he was the one
    that hired him and how well the team plays is his responsibility.
    There seemingly is a lack of leadership from the owner, the president,the coach, and the players.
    Don't know if Bradley is the answer, there needs to be an attitude change within the organization at all levels.
    Adding another name, won't change things in itself.

  • Looks like the best thing about this game was that I was not able to watch it. This season is now officially a shambles. I withdraw my support for Frank K as coach.

    I still think they have an interesting young staff with potential. They seem to be having problems finding the coaching staff to develop and direct them. And, of course, they're missing a key player or two. Can't seem to find this year's Blanco.

    For me, the fact they've played their best against the best teams and their worst against the worst, is telling. This team lacks leadership. They rise and fall on emotions. They get determination and stand shoulder to shoulder against the impossible foe, yet are lackadaisical and stunned by the most inept of opponents.

    This season began with a rebuilding from the ground up. Next season should start today with an overhaul from the top down.

  • Nowak, Armas, CJ, all leaders on the field who were respected by their peers. Who is there to lead today? (Long awkward silence accompanied by crickets chirping)

  • First 11 matches 1-4-6 9 pts 15 GF 19 GA
    Last 11 matches 1-3-7 10 pts 8 GF 11 GA

  • At least they are consistent...

  • Well, at least the MLS-wide problem of the 0-0 draw (and more generally, anemic scoring) seems to have been worked out. The last three weeks in MLS have been on huge goal-fest.

  • It has been almost a month since the Fire won in Columbus in a place where the Fire has trouble winning and that game looked like it would turn the season around , they have not won since. The momentum of that game was lost in the very next game when they tied in New England, if they would have put just one of them great chances in at New England , I really believe the season changes right there as Frank would have been undefeated with that 2 game win streak and at the time a very low total of loses.

  • I blame myself for yesterday's fiasco. If I had not praised the backline, maybe we would not have coughed the ball up on D like we did. A status quo performance from the backline and the game is a 2-2 draw or possible a 2-1 win. Very sad day.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I would like to blame someone too but what good is that going to do?

  • It's too bad the Fire are not run like Barca, in that the Barca fans get to vote on who becomes president of the club.
    Not any damn fool can vote in this process, first one has to apply for Barca membership and pay a 125E yearly fee. Once a Barca member, you may have a chance to serve on the Barca assembly for a 2 year period. A majority of assembly members are chosen by a computer lottery, everyone given an equal chance.
    The management of Barca is directly accountable to the Barcelona community at large and the Barca fans.
    Isn't that revolutionary for a sports franchise.
    The Barca slogon "More than a Club" is not just a promotional gimmick. There is no sports organization in this country or probably anywhere else that comes close to what Barca represents to the Catalan community. It represents choice, freedom, and a sense of common purpose. The free-wheeling, open play is a reflection of the Catalan spirit and the Barcelona heart.
    If you think this is BS. spend some time in Catalonia and Barcelona
    and see for yourself.
    The intense rivalry between Real Madrid is understandable given the background of the Franco dictatorship and the only Catalan
    symbol allowed was Barca.
    Every time Barca takes the field it's a political, cultural, and social statement to Spain and the rest of the world "We are Catalan, forever free"
    What due we get here,the Chicago Fire.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    It's too bad the Fire don't have Messi, Xavi, or Iniesta either. ;)

    But seriously, the Sounders have instituted a program where fans can vote out the GM of the club every four years. It's not something I think we'll see much of in US sports.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    GB Packers mite be the closest team like that in the USA

  • i've been saying this for weeks if not much as it sucks to see the team play like crap, a crap finish might not be the worst thing for the future of the team. it should give them access to at least 2 really good players next yr though the draft (if they don't make another mediocre selection) and allocation system. so at least we have that. :)

  • In reply to Drew:

    mite as well finish lowest if you are gonna miss the playoffs anyway.

    tho montreal is gonna get the first pick on everything, right?

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    pretty sure that's right, but 2nd, 3rd or 4th should give us a good shot in either process of landing starter quality players.

  • The way the fire is probably the best thing that could happen to the club. What everyone saw was a team that is the worst in the league. The management from Javier to jefferies to klopas should be let go and fired immediately. Go with the reserve coach and finish out the season. Hopefully get Bradley and Peter wilt back involved and sit back and enjoy a developing team. I have been involved in soccer for over 50 years and cannot pick out one player that could move up to another league. it would be wonderful to have a team like Seattle.

  • Sounds like you can scratch Jesse Marsch's name off the list of possible coaches for 2012. Washington Post's Steve Goff is reporting that 3 sources have told him that Marsch is going to get the Montreal Impact job.

    Bob Bradley is also supposedly a finalist for the Egyptian National team spot.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    This group will screw up blue chip draft picks next year just like they did this year with Harrick, Bone, Paul, Barrouch, Anilbaba, These five should be 90 min starters along with Gibbs, Miculich, Nyarko, Pappa. Oduro is like a fast car with no stearing wheel. This season should have been the rebuilding one now us fire fans must wait another year.

  • i still like Barrouch. he's young yet, has a nose for goal, and seems to know the position well. he certainly seems to get more and better shot opportunities than Nazarit or Chaves. he just needs to learn to have a bit of composure, and he'd be a definate MLS starter at striker

  • I agree, I've been following him since he was mentioned as a trialist.
    Watch all the videos about him, was recognized as a coming talent
    even before he signed with the Fire. Being 19, if I was looking to sign someone from the Fire, it would be Orr. He has a quick and accurate foot, don't see many sky shots or wide misses from him.

  • The 4-5-1 formation smacks to me of a move to save Pappa his starting spot. If Klopas went 4-4-2, with Grazzini and Pardo in the mix, I don't see Frank starting Pappa in the middle with Pardo, but also don't see Pappa on the wing opposite Nyarko or Oduro. Oduro up top (save his goal Sunday) doesn't seem to work nearly as well as Oduro on the wing. And I can't for the life of me figure out why Chicago loves Pappa so much. I've said it before, but his flashes of brilliance are overshadowed by far more negatives this season. I'm still of the opinion that he's checked out and is waiting for his chance to go elsewhere.

  • Johnson, Pause, Anil, Mikulich, Segares, Gibbs if available for Pause. Oduro, Grazzini, Pardo, Nyarko Midfield. Paladini out only in if have lead sub in midfield. Orr and Pappa on top with Nazarith, Chaves off bench if forwards tired or needsome late help. Bone in midfield if Pardo Grazzini are tired or Videro along with Paladini if have lead.
    Cuesta only if others injured, Baggio only if injuries. When is new addition from Toronto going to get it!
    Play 4-4-2 Stop playing silly 4-5-1 to satisfy Pappa. Its more like a 4-1-4-1 If Pappa cannot play up top or ahead of the new midfield then sit him to bring a spark off bench. Pappa leaving the team after season and it shows. For what is worth no additional players will make this team better only new coaches. Also the shit load of money paid for these six month investments in Grazzini and Pardo is looking like a 60 day deal now. Great job Klopas!

  • In reply to bigdog:

    I agree that a coach is needed, but I'm not sure that Grazzini and Pardo cost a "shit load." Neither is a DP, so even if they're gone after this season (which I doubt), it won't be another Ljungberg and Castillo fiasco.

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    This Fire team has made way too many personal mistakes in the last two years to recover from any time soon. They've tried to find discount international players that might work out in the MLS -and they have failed mightily in this task. Of course 2010 had Castillo and Collins John as total busts. I doubted Chaves and Perurani (or whatever his name was) to start with -not physical enough- and they surprise surprise they didn't produce at all in the MLS. MLS goal keepers owned Chaves so many times. You can add Nazarit and many others to the 2011 bust list. Segares and Pause are of course solid role players but they rarely if ever contribute with assists or game-changing plays. And here we are starting Oduro, a player who was dropped from Houston (a consistently better MLS team) for lack of finishing skill, as our lone forward. Oduro should get some minutes, but he can't do that much himself. Johnson is showing the inconsistency that comes with young goal keepers. Why did we let Busch go? How many of our current roster would make the starting 11 of other MLS teams? I think only Pappa, Johnson, Pause, Nyarko, Grazzini, and Pardo would attract much playing time on the rest of teams in the league -all of which have better records. So 2012 is now the rebuilding year -and we may not see the play off until 2013. I won't spend a dime on this team until then!

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