Fire 1 Impact 1 - Recap and Ratings

The Fire has to feel reasonably satisfied with a point on the road given the circumstances of the match but they can't be too happy with allowing Montreal to control long stretches of possession throughout the middle of the game.  The visitors held their ground and were slightly better through the first 20 minutes but Jesse Marsch's defensive tactics limited Fire attackers to any clear chances on goal.  Marsch dropped his backline much deeper than they played in the previous match at Vancouver and moved Patrice Bernier closer to the back four in order to neutralize the speed of Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro on the Fire's counter attack.

Referee Kevin Stott allowed the Impact to play physically with Sebastian Grazzini, which limited his ability to get free in the middle and spray the ball out to the front runners.  The Impact were most successful moving the ball forward on the outside against the Fire's midfield prompting Frank Klopas to drop Nyarko back further on the pitch to start the second half.  The strategy initially didn't work all that well as Montreal took the lead in the 56th minute after Felipe evaded Pavel Pardo to feed Sanna Nyassi to the left of the Chicago goal.  Nyassi was afforded too much time to deliver a cross to a wide open Davy Arnaud for the home club's first ever MLS tally.

The Fire found the equalizer 15 minutes later when Grazzini floated a ball into the box that found the foot of Oduro for the Ghanian's first goal of the season.  After a bit of back and forth that saw the Impact collect the better of the scoring chances the home crowd was nearly sent home in a frenzy as Josh Gardner's laser beam from distance struck the far post and bounced away to an offside Bernado Corradi.

The Fire can't be too disappointed to pick up a point on the road but there are a few issues that need to be ironed out before the home opener against Philadelphia next Saturday.

Player Ratings

GK - Paolo Tornaghi (7) - An impressive debut for the Italian 'keeper allowed the Fire to manage a draw.  A fantastic outstretched save in the 18th kept Justin Braun off the scoresheet and another solid stop late on Nyassi were the best of five total saves.  Tried to catch the Impact on the counter with several long distances boots that failed to connect with Oduro but otherwise showed why the club was so impressed with him during pre-season.

D - Dan Gargan (6) - Very good early while aiding the attack and drawing fouls in dangerous areas.  May have been caught too far upfield in the 18th allowing Gardner to find Braun on the shot Tornaghi parried away.

D - Jalil Anibaba (5) - Caught a bit out of position on the Arnaud goal but came up with a fine stop on a late cross in the first half halting a Montreal attack.  Anibaba has tremendous upside but he will probably find himself watching the action as soon as Arne Friedrich is fit and ready to play.  Learning from the German World Cup veteran will serve him well in the long haul.  Did manage to get a head on a ball from a set piece sending the ball wide of goal in the 16th.

D - Cory Gibbs (6) - Very good in anchoring the back line, particularly in the first half when the Fire were playing their best.  Should form a solid veteran partnership with Friedrich.

D - Gonzalo Segares (5) - Fair game from the veteran left back but allowed way too much space to Nyassi in the 56th minute resulting in the Montreal score.  After a 64th minute pass that resulted in a good chance, Segares stayed down on the turf and was replaced by Jumper in the 68th.

M - Pavel Pardo (5) - Quiet game for Pardo who usually initiates the attack out of the back with balls over the top to either Oduro or Nyarko.  Montreal's deep back line took that away and Felipe managed to escape him en route to finding Nyassi before the eventual Arnaud score.  A free kick attempt in second half stoppage time was well struck but just wide of the upper corner.

M - Logan Pause (5) - Did well to break up passes and find team mates moving forward in the attack while the Fire were playing well in the first 20 minutes.  The Fire can be controlled on the flanks when Pappa is not playing well since there is little threat of Pause moving forward himself.

M - Sebastian Grazzini (6) - Montreal took a physical approach to defending Grazzini, effectively taking the Fire out of their comfort zone offensively.  Referee Kevin Stott allowed the rough play and Grazzini seemed a bit frustrated late in the first half.  He showed why he is vitally important to the club's success by setting up Oduro for the game tying score.  Replaced in the 79th minute with what Klopas described as cramps.

M - Marco Pappa (4) - One of the issues that remained unresolved at the end of last season was the up and down play of Pappa.  The talented winger still hasn't quite figured out how to find his game with Grazzini on the pitch.  He was hesitant with the ball on numerous occasions and lost possession at other times while attempting to dribble past more than one defender.  His best moment came in the 53rd minute when his long distance attempt at goal sailed high over the net.  Replaced by Puppo in the 62nd minute.

F - Patrick Nyarko (5) - There were good signs from Nyarko in terms of thinking more "selfishly" as a striker.  Good to see him take several attempts at goal although none found the frame.  His work rate is always high and he was pushed back behind Oduro in the second half in order to aid the midfielders defensively.  Started the play that led to the Fire's score by hitting Grazzini with an accurate pass on the run.

F - Dominic Oduro (6) - Found the going difficult with Montreal defenders dropping back in numbers to contend with his pace but still managed to find a way to score as most good strikers do.  He may yet prove that 2011 was not a fluke.  A fine bit of skill in the 63rd also resulted in another scoring opportunity that was deflected over the end line for a corner kick.

F - Federico Puppo (6) - Provided a bit of a spark after entering the match for Pappa in the 62nd.  Dangerous in the box in the 64th before Ricketts stopped the play and created a good scoring chance by drawing a foul with a fantastic 35 yard run resulting in Pardo's free kick attempt.

D - Hunter Jumper (5) - Entered the match for Segares in the 68th minute and had some good moments but slipped on the turf in the 87th allowing Nyassi to get a clear shot at Tornaghi's goal.

M - Daniel Paladini (5) - Came on for Grazzini in the 79th.  Was likely the second option for the free kick attempt in stoppage time.

C - Frank Klopas (5) - A draw on the road in a hostile environment against a team riding a huge emotional high is not a bad result.  Marsch used the tactics that most MLS teams will continue to use in order to slow down the Fire's attack.  The insertion of Puppo worked well but Klopas will have a bit of tinkering to do in order to keep opposing defenses honest thereby allowing Nyarko and Oduro more room to operate.

Next Up

Peter Nowak and the Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park next Saturday.

Comments

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  • They are off to a good start (sarcasm). Klopas looked very uninterested at the game and noticed he wore the same suit as last year compared to the other coach that was very active and presentable. Pause is being Pause; a five is too high in my ranking. My ranking for Pause is zero and that is more than he deserves for kicking the ball backwards the whole game. As for Grazzini and Oduro, they derserve a 7. Whoever was the person that commented on Klopas as Coach of the Year is a joke and he is very bad represenative of the Chicago Fire.

  • Quick follow-up report. Thanks Guillermo! I fully agree with your assessment.

    I'm rather concerned at the referee's preference to allow the abuse of Grazzini that we saw today and which was apparent in the late stage of last season as well. Looks to me as though the league has decided to eliminate Grazzini through sellective officiating. Am I simply seeing this from a home fan distorted perspective or is it true that fouls against Grazzini are allowed when they would be fouls or even yellow cards if committed against other players?

    I thought one of those trips (think it was in the second half) looked like a yellow card to me considering the rate at which the Fire were advancing the ball at the moment. But not even a foul was called. Any thoughts?

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I don't think there is any anti-Grazzini conspiracy but I do believe the league HAS to get the point across to it's referees that persistent infringement and rough play against the most technically gifted players in this league must be curtailed. Garber continues to talk this up but the same nonsense seems to continue largely unpunished.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Looked to me like the referee decided rather than calling any of the fouls against Grazzini he would just wait for the inevitable retaliation and call all those fouls instead.

    If the league is serious about stopping this sort of officiating, they should have an independent review board adjust referee salaries downward as warranted. When some of these guys stopped having any income, perhaps they might decide their job isn't all about amusing themselves with bad calls just to watch how the teams respond when he gets them upset.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Nevertheless, I would say the Fire got the result they earned by their play today. They have done better, and I'm sure they will. And yes, Adam! We SHOULD be able to expect a win against an expansion team, though the league rules seem to create pretty competetive expansion teams. Remember! The Fire won it all in THEIR first season!

    So, all in all, I too am happy enough with the point today and expecting better results soon.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    nah its not anti-grazzini. Stott is pretty consistent in allowing this kind of rough play in all his matches, particularly the pushing and tripping from behind not being called. the more technical and smaller players dont seem to get the benefit of calls from him very often

  • Kevin Stott has to be, hands down, the worst referee in all MLS. I've yet to see him call a good game.

    Totally agree about Pappa. I'd like to see Robayo in place of Pappa or Pause in midfield, see what he can do to help link the backline and forwards.

    I can't help but chuckle at everyone who's calling this "more of the same" from the Fire. Tough crowd, tough conditions, bad pitch, and they walked away with a point after battling back and getting a goal while down as the visiting team. One game is a bit early to be so harsh. Get this kind of performance out of them for 5-6 games, then those comments might be warranted.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Agreed....take the point on the road and move on but it should be noted that Houston has won their first two matches of the season while on the road.

    Need to take care of business at home.....

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I notice the Grazzini substituion for Paladini. That move was a head scratcher because Paladini is known for his defense with little offense. Since Rafael Robayo was brought in to be a box to box player that has creativity at the central midfield position and also can drop back to play some defense, he wasn't subbed in for Grazzini. I would like to know why Klopas decided to go with Paladini?

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Paladini has been playing a more offensive role in preseason games, slotting in as an attacking mid. He doesn't create the way Grazzini does, but his offense has increased exponentially this year. I'd point to him being 2nd on the team behind Oduro in goals scored through their 3 phases, and he scored in both exhibition matches against MInnesota the Friday before First Kick. But I digress... :)

    I have NO idea how this stuff works, so I could be completely off on this one, but I believe Robayo's issue may have been not having his ITC straightened out yet. Because the team only travels their 18 on road trips, Klopas probably wanted to take the chance at bringing him and being able to field him should his ITC come through, and if not, then he just keeps him benched. Again, I have no idea how that stuff works, and I'm just speculating there, but that was the first thing I thought of when seeing Robayo not get any playing time Saturday.

    In addition to that (and something GR and I hit on in the first podcast), Robayo is not a central mid, he's a winger. Paladini, on the other hand, does play centrally. Given that Paladini has been a Klopas mainstay in the sub role since Pardo and Grazzini came aboard, it's not a stretch that he would go with Paladini instead to replace Seba.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Robayo received his ITC...I believe Klopas just opted for other changes at the time.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    i agree, i always hate seeing Stott as center ref not because i think he is biased or doesnt know the rules, but becuase i feel players are more likely to get injured from the style of play he allows.

    this weekends match was actually pretty mild compared to a few others i remember him as center ref

  • with grazzini it is basically a 433 even if they call it a 442, and the fbs give width.. i would like to see robayo take pappa's spot because he will be able to play his game in that role, where pappa seems like a round peg in a square hole

  • In reply to lijien:

    Agree there. Pappa needs to re-learn how to round out his game like he did in spots towards the end of 2011. Largely ineffective today for the most part.

    Kudos to Montreal for taking Pardo out of much of the game though. Without his input, Fire struggled to move forward with purpose.

  • IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR A WIN AGAINST AN EXPANSION TEAM?

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Of course its not too much to ask for. Its just not worth egetting upset about if the result is a tie. Take the point, acknowledge that just about every single player on the field for Montreal either was a starting or major contributor to his prior team; so a tie before a record setting crown of 58K plus on an awful field is a decent result. The truth is that the Fire play horribly on turf. Its hard to adjust to and for painful to watch. All this considered, not a bad day but also not a great day. Next week, VICTORY!!

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Plus, the Montreal Impact was in the 2nd division last year didn't light the league on fire but still no excuses for the Fire not to win that game.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    That's not the same roster that played in the NASL last season.

    As for the Grazzini switch for Paladini, I think Fire were ready to take the point and get out of there. Klopas also mentioned Grazzini was cramping a little before coming out.

  • I did a little write up at penapiratas.blogspot.com check it out and leave some feed back.

  • thing that disappointed me i suppose, besides pappa's poor decision making, was it just didnt seem that chicago had a viable plan to create many scoring chances. once they should have recognized that the speed game thru the middle was not going to work, they should have been looking to exploit the space being left open on the flanks

    the back 4 was mediocre at best. tornaghi had a good match, gargan had a good 1st half, and pause had a good 2nd half IMO. nyarko was at his best when he came back to help the defense, but wasnt much use going forward. puppo did seem to bring positive change as he seemed more capable or willing of pressing the attack

    pappa... well he is often either the best player or the worst player on the pitch each game. this weekend he was the worst, his dribbling decision making kills so many opportunities.

    i guess i was just mostly frustrated that the Fire really got outplayed most of the match, and the scoring chances created were few and not nearly as good of chances as Montreal had.

    final result of a draw was actually good for the Fire considering how well they played

  • one other comment - i dont think Tornaghi once punted the ball straight out of play. SJ does it at least once a match

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    SJ's sideline distribution has been informally tracked from time to time in the press box.

    *allegedly* :)

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    1pt. We got lucky with our cruddy play. That said, the ref was definitely pro home team. Trying to look at this without bias, but it wasn't a properly called match.

  • Did anyone see Andrew Hauptman's interview on MLS.com? It makes it sound like he will bring in a DP when there is no way the guy is going to do that. The team has its home opener this week and there are no stories on the news. How can the team get the media to civer these events? Is the only way to do it by getting the traffic reporters to cover the traffic on Harlem Ave. as an incident report?

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Article link: http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2012/03/19/fire-ownership-wed-spend-keane-money-right-dp

    I'm not sure what to think after reading the article. In one breath, he says "There aren't many Beckham's out there, it's complicated", then in the next breath he says, "The tech staff just need to bring me who they want to sign, and I say yes. It's simple." Seems like a bit of passing the buck to me. Either there are players we can bring in if we spend the money, or there aren't.

    I don't believe it's *that* complicated by club/MLS standards, to bring in a DP, otherwise almost every other team in the league would be in the same boat. I think it's more an issue of Andrew not wanting to get burned ala another Castillo or Ljungberg signing. That's understandable, but you eventually have to get back on the bike if you're going to ride.

    There are PLENTY of quality strikers that could come over to Bridgeview and make an immediate impact. Open the checkbook, find someone passionate about playing in Chicago, and you've solved the two biggest obstacles. Just don't blast off the fireworks when he comes in as a sub in the 2nd half.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Honestly, Andrew has the right attitude. It's not Andrew's job to find players and it's not his job to manage the salary budget. If Frank can get the players he wants without offering a DP contract, that's good enough for me. I believe Andrew when he says that he would sign off on a DP contract Frank wanted to do.

  • In reply to iron81:

    I think that's an accurate statement Iron. His track record of signing Ljungberg and Castillo proves that. Although Ljungberg was only here for half a season and Castillo was a bust, he didn't hesitate to spend when the tech staff wanted to bring someone in.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    That story was posted today but it was part of answer in response to a question about DP's at the media dinner last Thursday night. Perhaps I should have made it a separate post, but I included a recap of the issues Hauptman discussed during that meeting in my Match Preview on Friday night. The item about pursuing a DP is in there as well.

    The quote in the story itself is a bit out of context since it was in reply to a question about his willingness to spend big bucks on big salaries. It wasn't a random story generated by MLS to spring some sort of false hope for a big signing but I can see where it might come off that way when looking at it as a stand alone piece.

    I can tell you the media coverage is nowhere near what it should be but I think the PR people are reaching out to local media outlets. For example, ABC-7 had a tv crew at practice today. The media (or lack of media) coverage can begin to be addressed by letting some of these outlets know that you want to see something on the Fire. They'll begin to take notice if fans are out there demanding or asking for it. Ratings/sales=coverage.

  • MLS Power rankings are out. It's indicative of how pointless these are when Toronto, who lost to Seattle badly, moves up based on a non-league win against LA.

    http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/2012/03/20/mls-power-rankings-week-2

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    That's why I've always hesitated to do power rankings.....

  • Sorry. Hitting the “Reply” button crashes my browser here at work every time. Regarding the Hauptman “interview” ..

    This appears to be simply meaningless fluff produced and spun by the league in an attempt to keep us disgruntled fans from storming the gates for a few more weeks. I’m sure the league hears the rumblings from the Fire supporters.

    What’s stated in this article is completely meaningless. So what if Andrew would sign a DP who would fit with this team and make an impact if someone brought him such a person on a silver platter?

    What we need to know is what Andrew is doing to find a suitable DP. Since Frank is now coaching, has someone been hired to take over the task of identifying and trying to sign additional players who can improve this team? Or have those responsibilities just been shifted to others who have neither the time nor the expertise to find a suitable DP? Since this “interview” avoids any discussion of what IS being done to produce a DP it is meaningless and can only be an attempt at smoke and mirrors, spin-doctoring, or whatever else you want to call doing nothing but trying to keep the public thinking good things are happening.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    That's a great question Arklow...who is in charge of the technical director duties now that Frank is in season as the coach? It's bothered me for months that they haven't directly filled his position. I just don't see any major team in the city without someone designated as the go-to person on personnel decisions, scouting, etc.

  • In reply to Drew:

    Andrew indicated at Frank's HC press conference that they would not immediately fill the TD position. Frank is still listed as TD on the Fire website, but as I recall Mike Jeffries picked up some of Frank's duties. I recall at that press conference getting the feeling that Andrew was saving money by having the TD duties delegated rather than bring someone new on in the position to allow Frank to focus on coaching. Regardless, I agree w/ the smoke and mirrors sentiment.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    Arklow,
    Javier Leon, Mike Jeffries, Frank Klopas, and the newly appointed VP of soccer operations Guillermo Petrei all handle/split the responsibilities of a traditional technical director. They are responsible for the soccer/technical side while Klopas has the final call on soccer personnel matters. Petrei was brought in recently to help fill the gap vacated when Klopas stepped up to full time coaching. I don't think we'll see one person brought in as a "TD" any time soon and I wouldn't get too hung up on the title....not every team has a technical director.

    I can tell you that they are indeed looking at possible DP's and they are indeed willing to spend for a big money player if the correct situation arises. It would not surprise me if they bring in a big gun during the July window, but until they actually bring one in there will continue to be a question of whether or not they're still willing to splurge on one of those types of guys given the Castillo bust and the lack of a "big name" replacement for Ljungberg. I think they're looking.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Thanks Guillermo! I had been wondering how that process was working ever since Frank was announced as the coach, but I never saw anything further about it. I too am not so certain (at this point) whether a DP is really needed. Though the right opportunity should ALWAYS be engaged! Coming off last year I think most of us feel we have a pretty good roster and the new pieces have to be given some time to see how they gel.

    The MLS piece on Hauptman's willingness to pay for a DP was poorly presented. After reconsidering it in light of your explanation, it makes the MLS coverage look pretty amatuerish. They should have known how it would come across but apparently they're just bottling and releasing product without much thought. Thanks for not making us put up with that from you Guillermo!

  • I'm not sure getting a DP is really the thing that's important versus whether they are looking at options to bring in players to improve the team. While Blanco was clearly the best player on the field when he was here, I didn't always like the style of play that the team was forced into due to Blanco's lack of speed etc. I watched the red Bulls play Dallas. Henry was a non-factor by the middle of te game even though he was the best player out there because he didn't have others feeding him the ball in attacking situations. He ended up playing in the midfield by the end just to get touches. I like our team. I would like a really fast wing player to replace Logan Pause's inadequate passing and constant back passes. (I swear the last time he made a one touch attacking pass must have been at North Carolina.)

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    All these issues we have would be solved with winning. Winning is solved by good players. Good players come to the money.

  • Not sure if everybody caught this on ESPNdeportes, but it's a pretty cool behind the scenes look at a day in preseason with Pavel Pardo......

    http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=7699677

  • As far as on the field a Dp isn't needed, and if Pardo can be that face with name recognition, then we won't need one for PR either.. However, if he can't make that jump, then maybe we need one to help with PR. Blanco really was fantastic in that he was good for the team on the field, and great for the club off the pitch.

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