Fire 0 Real Salt Lake 0 - Recap and Ratings

On a night that featured CJ Brown's Ring of Fire induction officially cementing him into a place of permanent honor among the club's all-time best, the Fire and Real Salt Lake played to a fairly uneventful 0-0 draw.  After a decent showing in the first half by the home side, RSL clamped down and slowed the pace of the match in order to meet their objective.  After Javier Morales left the game in the 28th minute with a quad strain it left little doubt that earning one point on the road would do just fine for the visitors.

The Fire meanwhile, should feel like they missed an opportunity to pick up three points against one of the best teams in the league.  Real Salt Lake playing without Nick Rimando, Will Johnson, Fabian Espindola, Nat Borchers, and essentially Morales were still good enough to pick up a result on the road.  Chicago's best chance to earn the victory came in the fourth minute when Patrick Nyarko was able to find Dominic Oduro in the box for a clear look at goal.  Oduro's header attempt beat Kyle Reynish but the shot clanged the crossbar and the rebound attempt could not be converted.

A draw against a full strength RSL side may have been a decent result but a 0-0 draw at home against a top team missing considerable talent has to be a bit of a let down.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (5) - Not really tested but did register two second half saves.  Blocked a well taken Paulo Jr. strike in the 46th and probably should have held onto another one in the 50th that caused a bit of a defensive scramble.

D Dan Gargan (5) - Came out in the 51st minute since the coaching staff thought he was favoring a left foot injury.  Gargan says he'll be fine and doesn't plan on missing any time.  He appeared to struggle a bit with Paulo Jr. just before coming out of the match. "I didn't ask to come out but I've been dealing with a couple of things," said Gargan.

D Arne Friedrich (6) - The Fire did hold the opposition's attack at bay and Saborio seldom had a good look against Friedrich.

D Austin Berry (6) - Another solid game for the rookie but not as prominent as he was against Chivas.  A dangerous cross along the goal line in the 36th unfortunately failed to find a Fire attacker.

D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Good combination play and support runs in the first half and not a whole lot was seen from the RSL wings.

M Pavel Pardo (6) - Fine stop on Saborio in the 34th to prevent a dangerous chance and decent service from free kicks.  The Fire seldom have anyone in the penalty area capable of corralling a ball on set pieces however.

M Logan Pause (5) - Did well to reverse the field on several occasions in the first half.  Came out in the 72nd minute.

M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Created the chance in the 4th minute that resulted in Oduro hitting the crossbar.  Active as always but couldn't seem to break free for any more clear cut opportunities.  "It's very frustrating when we measure ourselves against this kind of team.  Getting a win against them would have been huge," said Nyarko.  "We need to improve our home form."  His quad tightened up and his ankle was stepped on but he feels he will be fine for Saturday's match against KC.

M Marco Pappa (5) - Not a bad match from Pappa but not stellar either.  Did manage two shots on goal (out of four taken) but Reynish handled them rather easily.  Switched sides from left to right with Nyarko in the second half but that didn't seem to result in much either.

M Sebastian Grazzini (5) - Another so-so night.  The Fire needed more out of their attackers in the final third but RSL proved too difficult to break down.  Had a chance to follow up Oduro's header in the 4th minute by pouncing on the rebound but his follow up effort sailed over the net.  Actually played 90 minutes.

F Dominic Oduro (5) - His only real chance was wasted in the 4th minute with the header off the crossbar.  A good feed on a counter attack in the 74th minute was wasted when Puppo decided to stop and look for teammates rather than continuing toward the goal.

F Federico Puppo (5) - See above.  Came into the match in the 60th minute when Nyarko appeared to be laboring a bit.  Once Chris Rolfe is healthy he may find minutes very hard to come by.  Played the lone forward role upon entering thereby moving Oduro out wide on the right.  That didn't work either.

D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Came in for Gargan at right back in the 51st minute.  His crosses and supporting runs from that position aren't as effective as Gargan's.

M Rafael Robayo (5) - Entered in the 72nd minute for Pause and attempted to add some punch but RSL was in defend mode.  A late header in the 86th was wide right.  I am a bit intrigued at a midfield combination of Pardo and Robayo sitting behind Grazzini though.

C Frank Klopas (5) - A point in this match isn't disastrous but it does ring a bit hollow considering the circumstances.  Three points would have been a huge boost going into the weekend match up with Sporting KC.  Tried several different combinations in the 4-5-1 alignment but none seemed to really work.  Nothing against Oduro and what he's been able to accomplish in the last year but the Fire still need a top notch striker if they're going to truly challenge teams like RSL seriously and consistently.


  • Both Gargan and Nyarko left with apparent injury issues but both claim they will be ready for Saturday.
  • Former Fire defender Bakary Soumare was in attendance for CJ Brown's ROF induction.
  • Ring of Fire member Peter Wilt was in attendance but in the stands.  As the general manager of the club during the height of Brown's career it probably would have been fitting if he was on the field with Chris Armas during the ceremony.
  • MLS Commissioner Don Garber was in attendance and briefly addressed the media in the press box during the second half.


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  • It really takes a gutless owner to pull what was pulled last night.

    On a night that should have been about recognizing CJ Brown and the contributions of seven great members from this organization's past, once again Mr. Hauptman, you made it about yourself.

    The Ring of Fire isn't your own personal fan club. It's not about who you want to be included. Its understandable that Bob or Lubos or Peter Nowak or Frank couldn't be on the field last night but it was dubious that one member, who you don't seem to like, stood in Section 8 Chicago as the ceremony was going.

    You should be ashamed of yourself sir. I saw the measure of four great men last night in CJ, Chris, Frank and PETER WILT. You may have money but you have no honor. It seems odd that though you've won nothing as owner, you seem keen on keeping out someone that helped the team win five of its six championship and helped establish the Fire as one of this league's flagship clubs.

    Jealous much?

  • I felt we had a decent defensive showing. RSL doesn't bomb crosses in from the wings, so Johnson's weakness in the air wasn't an issue most of the night (he did nearly flub a long ball towards the box from about midfield in the second half though). Friedrich and Berry looked solid against the vaunted RSL strike force, which was encouraging, as did Segares. Maybe Gargan's annoying injuries were bothering him more than he thought, because it seemed to me that he wasn't moving as confidently up the wing as he normally does. Of course, as Guillermo points out, RSL's tactics surely played into our backline performance.

    Offensively, not as strong. Grazzini got bounced around quite a bit - it's not necessarily the fouls but the follow through on 50/50 tackles that get him. Unfortunately too many refs seem to be of the opinion that he's embellishing those to draw a foul. I get the feeling if the same hits were laid on someone like Morales or Espindola, let's not even talk about a Beckham or an Henry, the calls would be made.

    Puppo as a lone striker was a joke. There was nothing he could do against Olave whose size and speed were no match for him. He doesn't have the guile to turn Olave's strengths into weaknesses through crafty ball work. I don't see why we bothered to get rid or Puerari to pick up Puppo. A lot of time and energy wasted on scouting trips to S America.

    Nyarko looked sharp until he was subbed out, and for me was our MOTM. It seemed like most of our chances, certainly in the 1st half, were generated by him on the right side. Pappa wasn't quite as sharp, though he had the best look besides Oduro's header.

    Looking forward to seeing Rolfe on the field. Klopas has some tough decisions to make when Chris is healthy.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Rolfe could be the first player off the bench as soon as he's ready.....hopefully we've seen the last of Puppo as a lone striker.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Didn't we let Chaves go for Puppo rather than Puerari? The latter was gone long ago. In any event, you are right, from what I've seen so far I'd rather have Chaves. Puppo needed to use his left foot last night, gotta take the shots that present themselves. Well, at least the fans know what the team needs, as we've been saying ALL OFFSEASON that they need another legit striker. They better find one this summer.

    Game was a pretty mediocre. As was the ceremony, frankly. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy for CJ, but at least on TV it came off pretty 2nd rate. Oh well, I guess we can chalk it up to being a young franchise trying to figure this all out.

    And I know this has been beaten to death a bit, but the whole TV deal really blows. NBC5.2? Are you kidding me? Dish doesn't even have that channel. Purchased the $79 direct kick as I was scrolling through the upcoming games and saw, as el guapo says, a plethora of games on that channel. I'm happy to support the league, but would rather be spending my Fire money on tix than TV...but I also don't want to miss like 13 games. Anyway, this team really needs to figure out it will remain what it currently is without better tv/radio exposure. The general population needs to be able to watch the games to give a crap.

    Like others, I can't wait for Rolfe to play. I'm not expecting miracles but he's definitely starter material on this team.

  • In reply to Drew:

    NBC5.2 can be picked up as an over the air channel although Directv and Dish don't carry it. I'm not a fan of the arrangement since it only serves to confuse viewers and it makes people go out of their way to be able to find the telecast. Limiting viewership is not a good thing when you're dying to increase and add new support.

  • The game also could have been picked up @ online.
    It was apparent by the 30th. minute the game would end in a 0-0 tie.
    Both teams played defensively and conservative. It was decently
    played game, devoid of much excitement.
    It is also apparently clear that Grazzini's goal is to become the Sergio Busquets of MLS. Followers of Barca football don't need any explaination. A gust of wind would knock him over. Felt he was fairly mediocre last night.
    Berry had another solid effort and should be a fixture in the backfield, also, thought Arne had his best game but the team still needs a top flight scorer.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    i have a hard time watching games online, prefer tv...but thanks for the heads up. i just think this is the whole sox vs cubs, sportsvision vs. wgn argument. you bury the tv outlet and it's just hard to grow, especially in an established and saturated sports market. that's all i'll say about the tv "deal", it's just a bummer as a fan to watch this organization f up over and over and over as i know we all want it to do well and grow in popularity and money and use it on great players and so on...

  • In reply to Drew:

    If you have Direct Kick, you should get the games on 5.2. Games on 5.2 aren't blacked out.

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    It was eh. Everything.

  • I thought Robayo did well. He added energy and brought added attacking ability and still got back on defense. He didn't disappear like he did in Colorado. He seems to be working well with the players around him now. Oduro played well when he was moved to midfield. He passes were somewhat strong, but he made the right choices. Pardo is terrific to watch. He really is a leader and teacher when he plays. I think he is a manager in the making.

  • Wow. I enjoyed the game more than just about anyone, it seems. And the ref deserves the top rating for the night. What were there, 9 fouls? Both teams kept moving the ball around, and that's good. It's a far sight better than the first games of the season. Sure, it was a depleted RSL squad, but it was great to see our team pressing on their half of the field for so much of the game.

    As for TV, can't you satellite folk switch channels (like from HDMI to AV to TV) on your television to go to the open air channels to pick up 5.2. Me, I'm ecstatic with 5.2 since I don't have cable or satellite. For those of us who can't (or won't) afford to pay for television, the Fire's offerings are pretty good, and offer something for everyone. Of course, that also means that everyone will be a bit unhappy.

  • In reply to Fuegofan:

    I agree with you. i thought it was a far better played game than the result would indicate. The Fire had a lot of posession in the attacking third of the field. They moved the point of attack well. Grazzini flopped less than usual. I agree that the TV schedule is not as bad as expressed. I am lucky because my cable system carries 5.2. It also broadcast the game very clearly. I think that the ref was excellent as well. There were some fouls that were not called that should have been, but for the most part it was well officiated and as a result the game did not get chippy. I enjoyed the game. I just wish we came away with 3 points.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I'll vote this one enjoyable too, although disappointing to see them apparently outplay RSL but not get the win. After watching the past 2 years, this team is certainly enjoyable to watch, even for 90 minutes without a goal!

    I have been surprised to hear a few comments around the office that it was a boring game. I'm with you guys on this one.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    First half was pretty good but the second half was a bit dull IMO.

  • Someone posted it on the Section 8 Forum but Andrew's e-mail is

    Voice your displeasure directly with him on his decision to exclude our club's greatest pioneer from last night's Ring of Fire ceremony.

  • It was good to see CJ, and it will be great to see his name on the wall at future games. However, I am quite disappointed and saddened by last night's lack of leadership, sportsmanship, and abundance of pettiness. CJ Brown earned his place in the Ring of Fire. Everybody throughout the Club knew it as soon as he announced retirement. Fire fans trusted that he would be inducted. We trusted Andrew Hauptman to honor the tradition. Instead he dragged his feet, made excuses, and delayed the induction. It seemed that he didn't agree with the fans assessment. He chose him at his convenience and obfuscated the selection process. When the time finally did come he chose to purposely exclude Peter Wilt, have a very amateurish and rushed ceremony, and to not shake CJ Brown's hand and honor him in front of his fans and family. It was disrespectful. As the current serving Chairman of the supporters association, I am incredibly disheartened to have witnessed it. It causes me great concern about the future of the Club, our cherished traditions, and the values that are outlined in our Club Charter. The Fire's ownership has shown that they either don't understand our traditions and values or that they just don't care. Either way, I see some rough road ahead for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club just as the sport is turning a corner, season ticket sales are increasing, and the time is right for the Fire to take it to a next level. Now the fans are wary. Do we have the leadership to propel this club into relevance in the Chicago sports market, to win Championships, to set records, to inspire the coming generations of players, to one day truly be a world class team? That should be goal for an owner that claims to value the slogan that was already well established when he chose to get involved: Tradition. Honor. Passion. I support CJ, I support all the Ring of Fire honorees. I support the badge. But today I do so with a heavier heart than I did just yesterday.

  • In reply to JoelS8C:

    Andrew Hauptman has pretty much fully demonstrated that he's a fake. Everything he says and does is insincere.

    Did you really want to see him pretend to honor CJ and Peter? We would then have to consider that Andrew has no respect at all for CJ and Peter.

    No, Andrew has finally backed himself into a corner where to show he respects these two Fire greats, he had no choice but to pretent to disrespect them both so we could see how much he actually respects them.


  • This is sad. An article about how well L.A.'s sports teams are doing and no mention of the Galaxy.

  • Andrew H bought the team for $35M and has probably not made money since. For him to go away, a new owner would have to pay him his costs i.e. what he invested plus his "losses". I would love for a local consortium of sports related investors to buy the team. Maybe John Canning from Dearborn Partners (who I think owns part of the Brewers) and Michael Iseley (who owns the Memphis Griselies) could team up and buy the team. I think local ownership is important because that will develop local interest. Local ownership will know the media outlets, what people are tuning into, and what works does not work. Clearly AH thought he hired local people who knew how to do that, but that has not panned out. In the end though, its the players/team that matters to me. I root for them, not the owner.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    It's the team that matters to me as well. Wish I could find some/any coverage. Seems like I spend more time surfing from one sports site to another looking for something to read about the Fire and how they are an upcoming contender. But there's very little coverage. If not for blogs like this one, there would be no coverage.

    I have no sympathy whatsoever for AH. If you buy a sports franchise, you had damned well better be prepared to run it. And NOT into the ground!

    The only thing AH seems to be successful at is gaining sympathy. "Oh, my, yes. He's such a nice guy. And things just haven't worked out for him. Poor Andy!" I think Andy needs to delegate his "being a loveable loser" responsibilities and get his ass to work pushing his team. Maybe start by firing some of the friends he apparently hired to make a comfy living on his sinking Titanic.

    I'm sorry for the negativity, but our team plays with almost no coverage and the only thing we ever see or hear from the folks responsible for this embarrassing situation is how sympathetic we should be to their plight.

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    I guess I have a narrow taste for games like these. Yes the ball moved around, and there was actually decent passing all around, but the lack of chances, especially when the Fire should have been more desperate to score kills is for me. No meaningful chances, no decent final touch, and in the end, we put no real fear on the opposition. Why is there hardly any real counter attacking in Fire games? Because we can't sustain any meaningful attacking presence.

  • In reply to waam:

    There is no counter for us because of the formation we play. We essentially play with 4 central midfielders and no players out on the wing to stretch out the defenders. It is the easiest thing to defend when the other team loses the ball. You always go straight back to the middle and then go from there. Everyone is in the middle so it is stopped before it starts. Logan is useless in this formation because he lacks creativity and pace. He is a holding midfielder and thats it. He does that very well but doesnt get played there. We rely on Gargan and Sega to bomb up the wings and play in a cross. Gargan hasnt played in a decent cross all season. Sega is playing well and I have no complaints on our left side. It gets very frustrating to watch at times. I would like to see what this Alex guy has to offer and let Grazzini sit a little bit. He is easily pushed off the ball and looks lost half of the time and the other half he is jogging back. He is reminding me alot of that latter years in Blanco's Fire career. He has been figured out and refs are not giving him the calls that made him effective.

    I fear I am expecting to much out of the players but...

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Alex doesn't arrive until the summer transfer window.

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