Sounders 2 Fire 1 - Recap and Ratings

The Fire are now 0-4-3 against the Seattle Sounders after dropping a 2-1 decision that probably should have resulted in at least one point. Chicago had the better of the opportunities in the first half before a 40th minute cross attempt by David Estrada was slightly deflected by Arne Friedrich allowing the ball to trickle into the net past Sean Johnson.

The Fire appeared to tie the match at one apiece in the 63rd minute when Marco Pappa found a loose ball in the box at his feet and buried it past Michael Gspurning but referee Michael Kennedy ruled that Dominic Oduro obstructed the keeper and disallowed the goal. It's debatable whether or not that call was correct but Kennedy, who had a rough night with the whistle also appeared to miss what probably should have been a penalty call against Rafael Robayo in second half stoppage time.

The Sounders took a 2-0 lead in the 67th minute when Sean Johnson mishandled a Fredy Montero free kick. After Johnson batted away what looked to be a catchable attempt the ball deflected to Eddie Johnson who knocked it in from close range.

It's an unfortunate result for the Fire since the team did not play badly but in the end the failure to take advantage of numerous opportunities at home cost them the result.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (4) - He's got to do better than this in big games against good opponents at home.  He was caught wrong footed on the first goal which was excusable since it was misdirected after taking a deflection off of Friedrich.  There is little doubt he should have done better with the second goal.  He was caught in between trying to decide whether or not to catch it or bat it away at the last split second.  He dove at it unnecessarily and it was the difference in the game.

D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Did well to contain Rosales for most of the match.  Started a counter attack with a sliding tackle early and was involved on both ends of the field.

D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Center back play was better in this match than it was in the last two matches although the results don't necessarily show it.  Had a chance in stoppage time with a good look at the goal but the shot was right at Gspurning.  "I connected well.  I tried to get a calming touch on the ball and hit it on frame.  I did that but unfortunately the keeper was right there," said Anibaba after the match.

D Arne Friedrich (5) - A better outing than his first two for the Fire but there's always that deflection that was ruled an own goal.  Unfortunate on this night.

D Dan Gargan (6) - Played well against Estrada for the most part.  Although the first Seattle goal was scored from his side it wasn't due to any lack of work from Gargan.

M Pavel Pardo (6) - Seemed to be more influential in this game than he has in the early part of the season.  Had some room to move the ball forward to the attackers and there really wasn't much going on in the middle of the pitch for Seattle.

M Logan Pause (5) - For the second week in a row a goal was scored by the opposition from the right side of goal after Fire defenders were a step slow to close down the space on the attacker.  Estrada had too much time to make a move and his soft cross somehow ended up in the back of the net.

M Daniel Paladini (4) - Started the match for Pappa, who was rested due to international duty and travel but didn't do much with the chances he had.  Had a chance to score in the 14th when he found himself all alone in the box but took too long to fire and his shot was ultimately blocked.  A long distance attempt in the 32nd was well wide of the goal.

M Sebastian Grazzini (6) - Played well in the middle controlling the ball and moving forward and referee Michael Kennedy may have missed a handful of fouls that should have been called in his favor.  He did embellish a few that were not fouls though.

F Patrick Nyarko (6) - With some space to work he moved the ball pretty well on the ground along with Grazzini.  Gave Johansson some problems and probably earned a call or two that weren't given.

F Dominic Oduro (5) - Managed one shot on goal in the 13th and whiffed on a shot in the 43rd with a little bit of space in the penalty area but the biggest moment came in the 63rd when his positioning caused Kennedy to rule that he obstructed the goalkeeper from an offside position on what should have been the tying goal at the time.

M Marco Pappa (7) - Entered the match in the 63rd for Logan Pause and immediately made his presence felt with the goal that was erased.  A long free kick that may have been wind aided almost beat Gspurning before the Seattle keeper tipped it out for a corner kick.  A monstrous blast from 50+ yards away was surely wind aided and just hit the side of the net.  His "olimpico" in the 89th minute was fabulously curled into the net although it may have received a little help from a gust combined with a mistimed jump from the keeper.  Made an impact the entire time he was on the pitch.  "It's my first goal of the season but to be honest I don't feel good because first everything I think about is always for the team and we didn't get the points," said Pappa.

M Federico Puppo (5) - Came in for Paladini in the 72nd but didn't factor into much.

M Rafael Robayo (6) - Subbed in for Grazzini in the 80th minute at center mid and probably was fouled in the box in stoppage time. Kennedy didn't think so.

C Frank Klopas (5) - Game plan was solid and the Fire played a better game than one of the best teams in the league but the result wasn't there.  Klopas addressed the team's play, missed foul calls, the skirmish at the end of the match, and more in his post game press conference.


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  • Guillermo very good Recap of the Game.
    Wasn't at the Game due to a a prior Family
    commitment but saw it on MLS Direct Kick.
    "I think rating Johnson a 4 is Very Generous."
    Johnsons play convinced me he shouldn't be
    the starter and a good keeper would do better
    on the two Goals which brushed right past him.

  • In reply to Juergen:

    I agree with your assessment of Sean's play. He hasn't had a good season so far. If he doesn't turn it around soon, I think we'll see Tornaghi again. They're both young and each still putting their game together but when one starts having too many off games, surely Frank won't go too long before playing the other. I would hope the competition would benefit the quality of play but Sean just seems more nervous and threatened thus far. If that's what's bothering him, he needs to put it out of his head and just play.

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    In reply to Juergen:

    I have to agree with Juergen. Sean is now entering (I think) his 4th year as a pro and 3rd as a starter but it seems in the last year his progress has been halted. I know Olympic qualifying did his confidence no favors, but after this much time I expect to see him demonstrate a little more composure in between the sticks. To many times do I see him looking confused, he punches out a ball when he can make an attempt to hold it and he still can't take a decent goal kick to save his life. Bottom line I don't see any confidence in his game and at least for right now it doesn't seem like he can handle the pressure of being a starter. There have been times where he has come up big for us, but those times are beginning to seem more and more few and far between.

  • Despite the outcome, the Fire played well against the Sounders and did not deserve to come away without at least one point. This is going to happen. It's just a shame to see it happen in the first game that I felt the Fire really played well. The lack of officiating was a factor and is an ongoing concern for MLS.

    The defense got a bit lackadaisical on the first goal. And it felt like the second Sounder goal came in the emotional let-down after Pappa's first, and apparently game-tying, goal was called off. In a game where they played so well overall, those are the things that decide the outcome. As the team gains confidence in themselves, we should see less of that.

    I thought Paladini played well in place of Pappa in the first half but he disappeared in the second half. Pappa was a very effective substitute. He looked like he had a lot more energy than we are used to seeing. Perhaps because he knew he only had a few minutes to play and, having watched from the sidelines, came onto the pitch with pent-up desire to change the course of events.

    The wind played havoc throughout the game and seemed to be a big factor, generally seeming to benefit the Fire more than the Sounders.

    I caught a brief view of one of the Fire pushing a Sounder player from behind at the end of the match just after the final whistle. I didn't catch who was involved and couldn't tell if it precipitated the post-game extra-curiculars or was just another of the many post-game expressions of frustration. As long as MLS referees continue to let so much go uncalled in a match we will see these displays of frustration. This was a big match. The Fire played hard, they played well, and they left their hearts on the pitch. If they continue to play with such determination and heart we should see them have some big wins this season.

  • My daughter was at the game and said there was a big fight at the end and security had to go on the field to separate the players. What was all that about?

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    There was a lot of pushing and shoving after he final whistle blew. Gonzalez took exception to a tackle attempt by Anibaba. More pushing ensued but it was relatively harmless since there didn't appear to be punches thrown or anything of that nature.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Actually, Pappa connected on a punch--well, more of a slap--against one Sounder.

    There was pretty good shot on TV of the slap.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    There was a bit of a paintbrush slap but it didn't appear to be that big of a deal. There was a lot of nonsense going on after that final whistle.

  • That was the worst officiating I have seen in awhile. But, it was also the worst the fire has played in awhile. Johnson has to do better than last night. His confidence is shot after the Olympics and he might never get it back. Grazzini needed to adapt his game to how the ref was not calling anything and he didn't. He lost the ball all night and it killed us. I don't under stand why we are not playing a 4-3-3 with the players we have. We are so narrow during the match that it is easy to recover for the opposition if we counter. All four midfielders are within 20 yards of eachother. We essentially play a 4-2-2-2 and it is killing us.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I don't agree that they played badly but they do need some width in midfield. We'll see if that changes when Rolfe is fit and Nyarko moves out wide.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    We should be playing a 4-3-3 with the players that we have.


    This lineup allows Pause to have an effect on the match. He is not an outside type midfielder. He has never dribbled past a player in his life. He is a workhorse that gobbles things up in the middle. He allows Pardo and Grazzini to be more creative and dictate the pace of the game, when he is in the middle. Nyarko and Pappa are wingers. Nothing more, nothing less. In the formation we are playing now, everyone looks lost and doesnt really know what is going on. We have nobody to play the ball to from the back because it is so congested in the middle so we try to play these long balls that are never long enough. I just feel like we have the players to be controlling the game and making it very difficult for the opposition.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Klopas was asked about the team relying on the over the top ball to Oduro too often at the end of the press conference. I thought they went away from that for the most part and played the ball on the ground pretty effectively.

    Rolfe will give them another option for the way they can play but I'd still like to see a big time striker who can make a play on his own in the final third.

  • After watching the replay of Pappa's disallowed goal several times again last night it does appear to me that Kennedy and the AR got the call correct. Oduro may have obstructed the keepers view of the ball as it came across the line. Gspurning had a clear look at the shot but Oduro did inadvertently block his view as it approached the line while in an offside position.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    That's how I saw it too. Disappointing but they have to learn not to have emotional lapses after things like this. Still this WAS the best the Fire has looked this season. Against any other opponent they've faced it would have been enough for the win, but the Sounders are also the best opposition they've faced.

    A disappointing result but this game should be cause for optimism.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I watched the game on MLSLive, and I was incensed at first about the recalled goal. But for me, one replay showed pretty clearly that Oduro was obstructing Gspurnning's view. It's unfortunate since it was a cracker, but that's the way it goes.

    I find it interesting that opinions are really split on this game, with soe people (like Guillermo and Seattle's broadcast team) thinking that we played well, and others thinking we were horrible (Rubberbandman189). Personally, I thought we had no solutions in the 2nd half when we had the wind. I'm not usually a fan of cannon shots from outside the box, but I think Pappa showed that if there was a time to test the keeper with some shooting from distance, it was last night. Not to abandon other methods, but we weren't generating the offense by slipping the ball to Oduro.

  • what a goal by pappa

  • We did not lose this game because of the ref. We lost because of our play.

    Pappa's called-back goal was correct. Oduro was in an offside position obstructing the goalkeeper.

    I watched the "foul" on Robayo in the box from the 92nd minute. It was a good no-call. Of course we wish it was called, it was not a penalty.

  • In reply to jtrevolt:

    I'd really like to see another replay on the non-foul against Robayo. Watching the game replay and they don't provide another angle or even a decent replay. After watching it again it looks exactly like it did from right in front of me in the press box. Robayo is open in the box, takes a touch and looks to take another one while Alonso makes contact with his leg across Robayo's body causing a loss of possession and denying another touch or chance to score. Penalty....those calls are made for much less contact than Alonso initiated in this case.

  • The Fire were two different teams last night. Their possession in the first half were the best I'd seen all season, they were just unlucky on the Friedrich OG. Second half, they were listless and on their heels for the most part, and I agree that the second Sounder goal was the result of a letdown after the Fire goal was disallowed.
    I disagree on the overturned goal being obstruction unless Kennedy changed the reason for the ruling later in the match. The AR clearly was indicating to Oduro that he had come back from an offside position when Oduro asked for an explanation, so it appears that that, not obstruction, was the reason. If that's the case, the AR blew the call since Oduro was out of the play and the obstruction reference came up later. Kennedy overall had an awful night with missed fouls, too many player retaliation calls, the missed PK call on Robayo and the end-of-match melee all pretty much on his shoulders. A pity that what started as a quality match devolved into an exercise in frustration.

  • In reply to Graymane:

    The Seattle broadcast crew made a comment about the match being relatively foul free before the last few minutes and a flurry of yellow cards. The melee at the end and the yellow card finish is a result of not taking control of the match and calling appropriate fouls when they should be whistled.

  • Oduro said after the game that the ref told him the call was obstruction. Either way it was the right call....he should not have been there.

  • I saw the replay of Pappa's goal and Oduro's obstruction (if that is what it was). I think that it was the correct call. The problem for me was that throughout the game Nyarko and Orduro were getting mugged and never got the calls which would have opened up their play. It was ludicrous at times. One time Oduro was practically dragged to the ground and didn't get a call. I agree that Grazzini needs to get tougher. He probably didn't get the legit fouls on him because he went down so softly in the beginning of the game. Sean Johnson was awful on the two goals. Even the deflected goal should have been kept out. It was so softly shot he had enough time to recover. He couldn't because he was caught leaning the other way. You cannot do that. He is an enigma though because he made some great saves later. Kennedy refs a lot of college games and is well thought of at the college level. But for MLS the game is too fast for him and he misses half the stuff he should be calling. He changed the course of the game. For me that is the sign of a bad night for a referee.

  • What was up with the pregame show on 5.2? The audio was screwed up for most of the show.

    The video was screwed as well at points in the game. I thought it was COmcast, but I have an over-the-air TV and was getting the same problems.

    Who was the Irish guy doing color commentary? He was pretty good. I'm not a fan of Dan "Ricochet" Kelly, but the color made him a bit more tolerable.

    This was the first English broadcast I'd seen and I thought Evan Whitfield was the color guy.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    Evan Whitfield is the color commentator but he wasn't available yesterday. Kevin Egan, who has been doing the sideline work subbed in for him in the booth. He's worked for RTE in Ireland and the Big Ten Network.

    I haven't had a chance to catch any of the NBC 5.2 broadcast yet.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    The audio was messed up for about the first 18 minutes of the pre-game show. Fortunately the got it fixed before the game started. The video wasn't too bad though not very hi-res. Still it put Galavision totally to shame.

  • There was no mention of it last night but the official box score now shows that Anibaba was shown a red card for fighting in the 97th minute.

  • I posted this on Twitter as well, but I think it's time for Sean to sit. I don't believe he's fully recovered from Olympic qualifying mentally. In addition, that second goal was horribly misjudged, followed by another punchout when collecting the ball was not only possible, but necessary.

    Stats-wise, also, things are somewhat telling. Both Tornaghi and Johnson are now 1-1-1. Through 3 matches each, Tornaghi has 3 goals against, with 14 saves. Johnson has 5 goals against, with 8 saves. In addition, prior to last night's game, Tornaghi had a GAA of 1.00, whereas Johnson had a GAA of 1.73. Factor in Johnson's game last night, and his GAA is surely higher than that now.

    Johnson has had flashes of brilliance over the last few years, but his weakness for judging (and misjudging) balls in the air, as well as punching away instead of collecting (which has led to two goals in the last two games) has begun to stand out. Not sure how the coaching staff can look at the hard numbers and keep him in goal as a starter. In my opinion, Chivas would be a great game to start Tornaghi in goal and give him some first team minutes leading into RSL and SKC.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    I have to agree with this. I like having a great American prospect in the net - because the Nats program needs players to be getting playing time - but as a Fire fan, I think it's time to give Tornaghi the reins.

  • We're far enough into the season to conclude that this just isn't a good side. They lack cohesion, desire and some fundamental skills. The defensive line is a joke. The keeper has lost his confidence. The midfield lacks creative spark, probably because they can't maintain possession effectively. And the manager is oblivious to all this. Mediocrity would be an achievement for this bunch.

  • In reply to tribhater:

    I personally feel this assessment is a bit harsh. I do think it's fair to conclude that the team isn't a top mls team right now, but they've certainly "achieved" mediocrity already. I believe the Gibbs injury has significantly impacted the defense...and while injuries happen and are to be expected over the course of a season, you can't blame the organization for it. Arne and Anibaba still have time to learn how to work together, and Johnson and Tornaghi could still be the dynamic duo we need. The midfield has a lot of depth and i think needs some time to gel. I agree they've been mediocre thus far, but Grazzini & Pappa both have room to improve, Nyarko possibly sliding back to wing, maybe some Rolfe sprinkled in here or there, and maybe, just maybe Robayo finding his game could collectively significantly improve that bunch. Individually, on paper, it seems like a solid group, but they definitely haven't put it all together. Up top there's no doubt, unless Rolfe really steps in and shines, that we still need a dangerous threat opposite Oduro. So there is still work to be done, but let's not write off the team just yet. There are a lot of question marks, enough to be right in questioning the make-up of the squad, but imo, not enough to decide this early that the season is over w/no hopes for any trophies.

  • Drew, I wish I could be as generous as you, but the problem is that these are the same issues we've faced for several years. I keep waiting for Pappa to emerge and match his supposed promise; it has not happened, probably because his potential is overestimated. I keep waiting for someone to "use" Nyarko properly, but it has not happened and probably never will. I keep telling myself that the defense needs time to jell, but year after year they concede silly goals week after week. I keep hearing that the midfield is stocked with talent, but I rarely see it on the pitch. I just don't see how this group is any better than essentially the same group last year. Gibbs is hardly the lynchpin, and Rolfe is hardly the savior. This is a bottom-tier team. Wish I were wrong.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to tribhater:

    After being a hardcore Fire fan ever since they announced that Chicago would have an MLS club, THIS current regime is the worst I have ever experienced. Frankly, I have almost gone back to EPL and Champions League full-time because not only can I not stand losing, I absolutely have a hard time watching the Fire play as well. For Chicago it all seems like it starts at the coaching level, but it definitely goes much deeper than that. It was the brass that decided Hamlett was good enough when we had our best squad in years. Two years where we should have stuffed the trophy cabinet became two bare years, and it's never recovered since.

    We knew it was going to be a project last year, and the season ended well enough, but we knew there was going to be a need to improve. 6 games in, and the improvements haven't been pronounced. The jury is still out on the season, but there is already plenty of evidence things are heading the wrong way.

    I was in complete support of Sean until his setbacks last year. This is not just because of yesterday, its because we have seen it many times now. Sean is still young, but he's been a starter for 3 years now! The team has been betrayed by bad keeping over and over again. For a mediocre team like us, we cannot afford to drop points on bad decisions. If he can't make the reflex save, I can live with that. Great keepers are hard to find sometimes, but from what I know, keepers that know how to man the box are a dime a dozen (in the world). Right now, I'm not sure if Sean even falls in that category. If we aspire for anything, you cannot have a project in the back.

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