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.
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.