That was the key word most commonly heard after the Fire's 2-1 loss to FC Dallas which all but eliminates them from playoff competition for the second consecutive season. "We were flat from the beginning. I felt we weren't sharp. We were just a step behind everything," said Frank Klopas after the match. Klopas was concerned with the team's rhythm after last Tuesday's US Open Cup loss but credited Dallas with a solid effort. "They came out and made it difficult for us but we pushed the game late and we got something going but in the end we gave up two soft goals that hurt us," continued Klopas while acknowledging that the team's playoff hopes are all but gone.
The Fire's interim head coach also answered questions about substitutions, the final two games of the season, and his status going into the 2012 campaign. You can watch his entire post game press conference in the video above.
"I'm very disappointed. I think we just started flat," echoed Dominic Oduro. "It was really hard for me to get behind the defense. I think they dropped back the whole time so we had to change tactics during the second half. I had to go play on the right and I was able to get to a few balls on that side but tactically they did well by just sitting back the whole time to try and stop our runs in behind."
Patrick Nyarko also was at a loss to explain the frustrating defeat which featured a string of cards that will force the Fire to face DC United this weekend without Pavel Pardo, Dan Gargan, and Cory Gibbs. "Training had been good this week. Guys knew what needed to be done and had the mentality to go in but I can't really give an excuse for that. Maybe since we've been doing well recently and we were playing at home we thought it was just going to be a gimme," said Nyarko.
Pardo, who has been excellent on and off the field since joining the team in July was apologetic about his red card. "I was a little bit late, I know it was a foul. Sometimes it's a foul that you (see) like ten or twenty times during a game but it's the referee's decision so that's no excuse. It's a red card and I apologize because when you're with ten players it's difficult to play," said Pardo while stating his desire to return with the team next season. "I've spoken to people with the Fire and they're interested and want (me) to be here next year and I would like to be here next year and more years. I'm very happy here."
With playoff hopes all but extinguished the Fire can now begin evaluating their course of action heading into 2012 on the pitch and on the sidelines. The cupboard isn't entirely bare despite a second consecutive year without post-season play but some difficult decisions lie ahead. While Klopas wasn't ready to discuss his future as permanent coach, Patrick Nyarko offered full support for his return. "Personally I think, and this goes for most of the guys, he's done a great job. I would absolutely vouch for him," said Nyarko.
For post game video featuring Oduro, Pardo, and Nyarko check out the Fire Confidential Facebook page.
Sean Johnson (5) - A great save on Jackson early was negated by a fairly soft first goal allowed.
Dan Gargan (5) - Had some issues with Castillo early.
Jalil Anibaba (5) - Pretty decent game except for getting caught by Jackson on a throw-in which led to the first goal.
Cory Gibbs (5) - Yellow card will cause him to miss the DC game this weekend.
Gonzalo Segares (5) - Fire defenders struggled with Dallas' pace on the wings for most of the first half.
M Logan Pause (5) - Subbed out in the 56th when the Fire needed to push after going down 2-0.
M Pavel Pardo (5) - Uncharacteristic clumsy challenge led to a red card.
M Sebastian Grazzini (6) - Found little room to operate for most of the game but his well taken strike in the 86th minute gave the Fire a chance.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Never really got going.
F Diego Chaves (4) - Needed to find his early form and provide a spark in Pappa's absence but provided a string of turnovers instead.
F Dominic Oduro (5) - Never really got going either. Seemed to still be struggling to recover from illness earlier in the week.
F Orr Barouch (6) - Came in for Gargan in the 77th and provided a touch leading to Grazzini's goal.
D Josip Mikulic (4) - Joined the yellow card brigade with a nasty foul on Santos late.
M Daniel Paladini (4) - Entered the match for Pause in the 56th presumably to add some offense.
C Frank Klopas (4) - The team came out flat in a must win situation at home. There really shouldn't be any excuse for a match like this one in this situation with Dallas missing key players amid a losing streak although to his credit none were offered. Barouch probably should have been inserted into the match earlier than the 77th minute.
At DC United, who lost 2-1 in Vancouver.
Oh....and FC Dallas has the Brimstone Cup..... again.