Crew 2 Fire 1 - Recap and Ratings

There were no set piece goals allowed in this one but there was still enough lax defending and spotty goalkeeping to allow Columbus to take an early 1-0 en route to a victory in an important Eastern Conference battle.  An Eddie Gaven goal that should have been defended much better than it was put the Fire in a position to play catch up again for the tenth time in twelve games this season.  A subsequent late first half score by Emilio Renteria proved to be insurmountable despite a second half comeback attempt that had the Crew scrambling to maintain a hold on all three points.

The coaching staff apparently decided to rest Sebastian Grazzini in light of a third league match in less than a week and his absence was certainly felt.  A decision to start Frederico Puppo as a lone forward was also a questionable maneuver that Frank Klopas attempted to correct midway through the first half by pushing Patrick Nyarko forward in a 4-4-2 alignment.  Changes in the second half brought a sense of urgency as the team pushed for a tying goal but the Fire seemingly remain incapable of pushing away from the pack to join the Eastern Conference leaders in a race for the top spot.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (5) - Had two impressive stops in the 79th and 80th minutes but the first Colorado score probably should have been stopped.  Johnson appeared to be late in covering the near post as Gaven gave the Crew an early lead.

D Dan Gargan (5) - A lot of action for Gargan in the offensive third during the second half with numerous crosses although none managed to find the mark for a dangerous chance.

D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Appeared to be the main culprit allowing Gaven too much room to operate which lead to the 9th minute score.  Did well in other instances - solid tackle to break up an attack in the 33rd, two shot attempts in the area in the 48th, and a great long pass to Nyarko in the 55th.  The Fire will need to work through some mistakes from a young center back tandem until Arne Friedrich is ready to return.

D Austin Berry (5) - Easily his roughest night defensively since joining the starting eleven.  Struggled with Renteria's strength on more than once occasion.  Fell down on the challenge allowing the Crew forward to turn and score uncontested in the 43rd.  However, Berry is a monster in the air and he showed his skill again with a goal in the 72nd getting on the end of two consecutive balls after a corner kick.

D Gonzalo Segares (5) - The Fire's back line appeared to be in a scramble at times during the first half.

M Pavel Pardo (6) - Probably the Fire's best performer on the night stopping several counter attack chances and giving the team a chance to stay in the match playing in a lone holding role as attackers pressed forward.

M Logan Pause (4) - Deficiencies are exposed when the club is forced to press for a tying goal and he's required to get forward as an attacking option.  Couldn't get to a good ball from Pappa in the 28th that would have produced a clear look at goal for a quicker player.  Subbed out for Paladini in the 59th.

M Marco Pappa (5) - Just okay in 45 minutes of play and may have been subbed out at half time due to tired legs.  Pappa will miss the US Open Cup match on Tuesday as he departs tomorrow to join the Guatemalan National Team for a mid week game.

M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Active in the first half but disappeared a bit in the second.  Should have tied the match at 1 in the 41st minute after intercepting an awful pass by Mendes in front of the Columbus goal.  His shot attempt went wide left of goal and Renteria made it 2-0 minutes later.

M Rafael Robayo (4) - Playing in place of Grazzini he needed to step up and show more for the ball in a central position but that doesn't appear to be his game.  He's more suited to a dual holding role because he's not very fast and doesn't have an overabundance of moves despite his claim that Colombia's Liga Postobon is more technically gifted than MLS.

F Frederico Puppo (4) - It's a disservice to him to continually be placed in a role as a lone forward but he got some help when Nyarko was moved forward in a 4-4-2 and he was still largely ineffective.  The sooner Chris Rolfe is available the sooner Puppo can assume a more appropriate role as a late minute substitution.

F Dominic Oduro (5) - Entered the match in the 46th minute for Pappa and showed some signs of danger with his pace but teams are prepared for it now.

F Orr Barouch (5) - Came in a as 46th minute replacement for Puppo and had a decent moment or two in the box but was unable to get enough on a 68th minute shot to get it past Gruenebaum.

M Daniel Paladini (5) - Back to back consecutive excellent service from a corner kick breathed some life back into the Fire when Berry found the back of the net from the second ball.  Two long distance shots in the 61st and 65th were not particularly well struck.  Entered the match in the 59th for Pause.

C Frank Klopas (4) - See Puppo comments above.  The substitutions helped but you have to wonder why Puppo was utilized alone up top in the first place.  Grazzini was held out for rest according to the Fire's post game release which drastically altered the side's attack and the club continues to allow what Klopas calls "silly" goals.


  • The Fire's last defeat at the hands of an Eastern Conference team came on May 21, 2011 against Philadelphia.
  • The Fire will travel to Pontiac, Michigan on Tuesday to take on the Michigan Bucks in US Open Cup Play.
  • The next league match is Saturday on the road against another rival on their heels, the New England Revolution.
  • Chris Rolfe traveled with the team and worked out with the training staff before the game.



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  • I'm psyched that Berry scored and that Anibaba is comfortable in the opponent's box (something Evan Whitfield or the other announcer commented on during the game), and that Gargan and Segares go nuts on the wings, but I'd like to see us stop the opposing team when they're in OUR box (or close to it). Gaven's goal in particular was an indictment of our defense, though he did place it well.

    I don't who could possibly think that Federico Puppo would succeed as a lone forward in MLS, much less against Columbus's big back line. Nyarko was the offensive engine again last night.

    I'm less and less convinced of Robayo and Grazzini. Yeah, Grazzini had a great shot against Dallas, and he needs to be protected more, but I don't think he has what it takes physically to make it. And Robayo hasn't shown much, despite his high opinion of himself.

    We're going to struggle to make the playoffs at this rate.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    I agree with your comments on the game Modibo.
    Want to add that Sean Johnson had a couple of
    good saves but that doesn't compensate for his
    many mistakes like being out of position a lot and
    just plain lost a lot. He is NOT THE KEEPER that
    can win games for the team. We also still need that
    proven consistent Goal Scorer. We create the chances
    but don't have the Guy that can put them into the back of
    the net.

  • In reply to Juergen:

    Yes and yes....the proven scorer won't get here until July (if at all) and you've also got to wonder when Tornaghi will get another shot in a league game.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    I still believe they're a top 5 club in the East but they certainly don't make anything easy on themselves, Getting Friedrich back and hopefully Gibbs near the end of the season will help but it will take those two some time before to adjust as well. They've been a little sloppy defensively all season and that has to improve.
    The concern about Grazzini physically being able to stand up to MLS is a valid one considering they had to "rest" him last night in a big game when their next league match is a week away.

  • This is one of the reasons I think Austin Berry could have a USMNT future.....

    Berry on Emilio Renteria's goal:

    "That was bad positioning on my part. I should've just held him up and stayed off him a little bit, but I was too eager to get in and clear it. He used his body well and took me out of position. It's a good learning opportunity for me, but I've got to make that play next time."

  • that was just awful last night. i like how the team starts playing with a sense of urgency after they go down a goal. honestly we were lucky to come out of this week with 3 points. top 5 eastern conference team might be pushing it. the way that this team has been playing we will be fighting for a playoff spot once again.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    They're more talented than Columbus, Houston, New England, and Montreal imo and those will be the challengers for spots four and five in the East.

    The top three (New York, Sporting KC, and DC) have been better so far but they've got their issues too.

    Philadelphia and Toronto are burying themselves out of contention.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    more talented doesn't necessarily win more games.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    True....but it gives you a better chance. Rolfe and Friedrich being available are two pretty good options that they don't have at the moment.

    They still need another striker though. A report out of Mexico claims that they offered Santos striker Oribe Peralta a DP contract worth $2.8m per year but he decided to re-sign with Santos on a 5 year deal.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I agree wtih Guillermo here that the Fire are definitely top 5 in the east. I think after these games we as fans tend to get too high or too low on the team. We started this game essentially without 4-5 starters (Arne, Gibbs, Rolfe, Oduro, Grazzini). The biggest person I question in this game is Klopas, I think he made some very questionable decisions in this game, and it cost them at least a point.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    True that Rolfe and Arne give you better options but if you look at the way this team has been playing over the past month, it really doesn't show much improvement.

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    I'm really frustrated with Nyarko. That chance in the 40th should have been a goal. Nyarko gets too fidgety around the box, no composure at all. Kinda like Dom, but 3x's worst. At this point, he's not young anymore either. Argh, frustrating.

    I like Berry a lot. He got knocked down, but it was more positioning than anything, he shouldn't have allowed that challenge to end up that way, but sometimes, it happens. The ball was JUST at the other side of the pitch, and somehow made it's way all the way over, so I can see how a lapse can happen there. He will get better. Still impressive, I hope he stays a Fire for a long time.

    Right now, I can't wait till Rolfe gets back. It's a mess up top.

  • Guillermo.. when you say they're ready for Oduro's pace, what does that mean from a defensive standpoint? Are they just dropping deeper, forcing him to his left or what? Its hard to match up with speed, but just curious about what teams are doing tactically.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    Exactly what you mentioned.....dropping deeper and not letting him get behind the defense. If defenders can keep him in front of them forcing him into a touch or two they can limit the damage he's able to cause because he doesn't really beat anyone from the dribble running at them. That has limited the success of balls over the top making Oduro less effective when he has to come get a ball on the ground.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    defenses may have adjusted, but you can't deny he still gets his chances. just has to finish 'em...and he's still on pace for a nice tally over the course of the year.

  • In reply to Drew:

    For what it's worth, Oduro is roughly on pace to equal his 2011 output. He's got 4 goals through 12 games, had 12 in 33 appearances last year.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Oduro's an asset and 12 goals is nothing to sneeze at but they need a little better than that in order to be a challenger for the top spot in the East, especially if they're going to play with one forward. He scored 6 times in the last 13 matches of 2011 when the Fire on fire. That's closer to the production they're going to need. The missing piece of the puzzle to me is a forward who can score 17-18 goals over 34 games and can provide a more diverse arsenal of scoring ability and combination play with the other attackers.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    You know I agree w/ you GR. I'm just posting his stats to quell any "Oduro is useless" talk that seems to creep into these conversations from time to time.

    Oduro is solid, but yes, the Fire need a target striker/scorer if they're going to contend deep into the playoffs.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I disagree that we need golden boot level performance (last year's top scorer was DeRo with 16 goals) from any one player to compete. After all, DeRo didn't make the playoffs either.

  • In reply to iron81:

    So you're saying that the Fire can win it all without adding another forward and simply sticking with Oduro and Rolfe when he gets healthy?

    I think they need a forward who can either score or set up that many goals since they don't have a DeRo type player who can consistently put those numbers together.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:


    Any MLS team operating within the salary cap can be devastated by injuries and if Rolfe, Gibbs and Friedrich can't contribute much this year then of course we won't go anywhere. But this team has the talent under contract to get top 3 in the East and from there it's a crapshoot anyway.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Rolfe has always been a 8-9 goal scorer for a side that had a decent scorer already. So lets hope his goals help. But yes, we still need the prolific goal scorer.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    If Rolfe puts away 8-9 goals this year (which would be great), it's still only going to subsidize the output we got from the likes of Nazarit/Puerari/Chaves last year. Since none of our other strikers are scoring besides Oduro, that makes being a serious playoff contender problematic.

    I don't see how anyone can consider 15 goals in 12 games as high-quality playoff caliber soccer at this point. Our entire team barely has more goals than Wondo by himself.

  • On a side note, the Swiss regular season is over and Alex should be available to start training with the club soon although he cannot be added to the active roster until June 27.

    Alex finished the 2011-12 campaign with 2 goals in 25 games for FC Wohlen. The club finished in 11th place (9-12-9) in the Challenge League (Swiss second division). He was a regular starter in the side.

  • Any perdiction on starting line up today's US open cup?

  • Pause, Pardo, and Grazzini are being held out of tonight's lineup,and Pappa left for Guatemala after the Columbus game for intl duty.

    If I had to guess, I'd think Paladini gets the start alongside Vidiera at DM, and we see Corben Bone make an appearance tonight as well.

    Also, Kheli Dube, former Michigan Buck, did not make the trip, apparently due to a toe injury from training last week. Would've been nice to see him get a nod tonight as well.

  • Any chance Rolfe gets in for a few minutes tonight?

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Honestly, I almost hope not. While it'd be special for the fans that made the trip, seeing him make his debut in front of 2000 spectators in a 3rd round USOC game in Detroit is about as anti-climatic a re-entry into first team play as it can get. At least if he debuts against New England, people will be able to see it on tv.

    And yes, I know the game is being webcast. Still not optimal IMO.

  • I think there's a good chance, given the guys resting or needing rest, that we see a lineup like this to start tonight:

    Tornaghi; Jumper, Berry, Anibaba, Segares; Nyarko, Paladini, Videira, Robayo, Bone; Puppo

    I don't like Puppo getting another start, but I think he does only because of Dom's tweaked hamstring still lingering. If the team's in trouble (like against Columbus) Oduro makes a 2nd half appearance.

  • I think we'll see something similar to a Reserve League line-up. Most of the starters have logged a lot of minutes and this game is on turf with another league match on Saturday.

    My guess:
    GK Tornaghi
    D Jumper, Berry, Watson-Siriboe, Walls
    M Videira, Paladini, Robayo, Bone
    F Puppo, Barouch

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