Both Robin Fraser and Frank Klopas tinkered with their typical formations in order to gain an upper hand in combating the other team's strengths but in the end Chivas USA's biggest asset, goalkeeper Dan Kennedy wasn't enough to stop the Fire from collecting a last gasp road victory. Kennedy proved that he is indeed one of the top 'keepers in MLS (if not the best) by denying opportunity after opportunity in sometimes spectacular fashion. Chivas USA managed to control possession at times but the Fire were able to absorb the challenge without allowing much in the way of clear cut scoring chances.
The highlights for the Fire came via a last second game winner from the re-energized Marco Pappa and a stand out performance by rookie centerback Austin Berry. "I think the match ups were better, because that gave the freedom to Marco knowing the cover was behind him to take a little more risk moving forward, he did a lot of work defensively," said Frank Klopas of Pappa's game winner after the match. Berry making his MLS debut in place of the suspended Jalil Anibaba proved that he is indeed "MLS ready" as some scouts predicted during the draft combine.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - Better than last week but he wasn't really tested seriously by Chivas. Did record two saves, the best one coming in the 38th minute on a LaBrocca shot from outside the box. Still looked a bit shaky on crosses and corner kicks. Hesitated and broke the wrong way on a late 84th minute corner but the ball was cleared away by defenders.
D Dan Gargan (6) - Fraser tried Villafana and Bolanos on the outside in order to get some mobility and pace on the wings. Bolanos did get by Gargan in the 45th minute but slipped twice nullifying what would have been a dangerous chance.
D Arne Friedrich (6) - Best game so far in a Fire uniform. Chivas had no clear looks inside the penalty area without Friedrich or Berry stepping in the way. Just a matter of time before his quality begins to shine through.
D Austin Berry (7) - Was suckered in on a dive by Moreno which resulted in a penalty kick. He did put his hands on the forward and grabbed his shirt unnecessarily and I'm sure he's learned that is one thing you can't do against a player as "crafty" as Moreno. Berry was phenomenal for the remainder of the match scoring the equalizer in the 25th, breaking up opposing attacks to start a counter like he did in the 74th, and causing havoc in the offensive end on Fire corner kicks. Quite an impressive debut for the rookie center back who will certainly push Jalil Anibaba for playing time after this outing.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Got into the attack a bit and provided a fine cross to Grazzini for a header attempt in the 62nd that Kennedy miraculously saved. A long shot in the 13th missed the mark. Solid on the defensive end.
M Pavel Pardo (6) - Starting to look more like the Pardo we saw in the second half last season. Had some help in the back with Pause slotting in next to him in a dual holding role. A well taken shot in the 91st looked to be targeted for the upper 90 but Kennedy got a finger on the ball to knock it out for a corner kick.
M Logan Pause (5) - Moved into a more customary role in front of the defense but seemed to be trailing and scurrying to catch up against Chivas attacks on a few occasions.
M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Almost got the Fire on the board early after stripping Pearce and almost finding Grazzini for a chance. Did connect with him in the 31st resulting in a corner kick. Fired a hard shot on goal in 59th forcing Kennedy into a save. Might be the team's most consistent attacking player.
M Marco Pappa (7) - He's simply come up huge in the last two matches which will make line up choices very difficult for Klopas once Chris Rolfe is ready to play. After a relatively quiet first half Pappa looked like the player that participated in the 2010 All Star game. Drew a foul in a dangerous spot in the 74th, almost scored in the 80th after picking up a loose ball in the area forcing Kennedy into yet another big stop, and the winning score was clinically finished. Was it a coincidence that his most dangerous chances came after Grazzini was taken off? Can he string together three big time performances in a row?
M Sebastian Grazzini (6) - Did exactly what you expect a central attacker to do. Controlled the ball, moved the team forward, and shot the ball on net when the opportunity arose. Would have scored in the 62nd if not for a spectacular diving denial by Kennedy. Almost scored an "olimpico" of his own in the 32nd before Kennedy extended a hand at the last instant. Drew fouls consistently by beating Chivas defenders in the attack. Maybe the referee listened to Klopas' post game comment last weekend. I could do without the embellishment on plays when he's not fouled though.
F Dominic Oduro (5) - Teams will drop back deep enough to ensure that Oduro doesn't have enough space to run by them. After creating some havoc in the first half after beating both center backs on different plays in the 9th and 19th minutes and getting by Pearce for a shot in the 24th he was pretty quiet in the second half. Came out in the 86th.
M Rafael Robayo (6) - A nice dummy move in the 91st led to the Fire's winning score after coming in for Grazzini in the 78th. Starting to look more comfortable with his surroundings and could prove to be a big addition just yet. His shot attempt in the 80th was blocked leading to a chance for Pappa.
F Federico Puppo (6) - Set up Pappa's winner with a run towards the penalty area before passing it off. Also involved in the sequence which led to Pardo's shot in the 91st.
C Klopas/Percovic/Matkovich (6) - A match that featured both coaching staffs trying different formations in a soccer style chess match saw both sides enjoy some success. The switch to a 4-5-1 worked against this club and should have resulted in more goals if not for the effort of Kennedy. Both substitutes were involved in the winning play just before time expired. Well done.
Up Next: A good test from Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night and CJ Brown's Ring of Fire induction. A showdown looms with Sporting Kansas City a week from today.