Fire 2 Chivas USA 1 - Recap and Ratings

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.

Player Ratings

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.


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  • This is the best game I have seen this year with Klopas out of the players way and belongs up in the box. He shouldn't get a rating due to serving a suspension and congrats to the commissioner for doing the Fire a favor. I give Pappa a ten plus for his performance and contributions on the field.

  • " Was it a coincidence that (Pappa's) most dangerous chances came after Grazzini was taken off? "


    An encouraging result for the Fire. It wasn't only Pardo who had a performance like the 2nd half of last season - I think the entire team did. Were this the first half of last season, the match would have ended in a draw. I know that the Home Depot Center is not that imposing when Chivas is playing there (or the Gals for that matter), but it's still an away win after a cross-continent trip - one of the toughest tests for MLS teams.

    I'll take the 3 points for sure.

  • I agree with everything you said about Grazzini, but I don't get how that leaves him a 6, unless you deducted points for his histrionics.

    Pappa still looked like the Pappa from earlier this season for much of the match. Seven looks a little generous to me.

    Three wins through seven matches for the Fire. Trivia question: how many matches did it take them to get their third win last season?

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    A tick higher can be argued for Grazzini for sure. Pappa's damage came in the last 15 minutes when they really needed someone to step up but I thought he played the role they wanted him to play for the first 75 minutes of the match, which is stay out of Grazzini's way, make yourself available for the ball, and play both ends of the field. He's done it two weeks in a row.

    Incredibly, they didn't win their third match last season until August 21.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    haha wow, that is incredible. I was guessing something like "end of June" or so. 2011 will forever be known as the Year of the Draw. I really liked what happened there at the end, as opposed to how things usually went down last year. Last season, that's a 1-1 draw on the road. Not bad, but not ideal against a bad opponent. We need to take advantage of worse teams and fight for a point against better teams -- that's a successful recipe in this league. That all-out Central/South American kamikaze attack was fun once everyone was in at the end; and of course it helps when Chivas was pushing for the win and there was tons of space.

    Huge test on Wednesday, but getting 3 from Friday lets you breathe a little easier.

  • Mike Banner sighting. Banner is currently playing for FF Jaro (Finnish League).

  • In reply to longoria3:

    The further away the better.. but thanks for sharing.

  • I thought the Fire played well and that having Nyarko on the wing rather than up top and moving Pause to a more central position was terrific. It clearly worked because Nyarko stayed outside where he needed to be. I think that Pappa played great. His passes connected more that usual. He did not disappear for long periods. I thought the subs were terrific as well. They stepped up the attack. Puppo plays a much different type of foward than Oduro and the game needed that difference at the end. Robayo seemed to be everywhere and was wonderful in the last sequence.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I agree with you on most points.
    When Rolf can play I would move him on top with Oduro.
    Pause on the bench and Nyarko in midfield as Saturday.
    Austin Berry deserves another start based on his performance.
    Johnson still looks shaky and not sure of himself so I would
    start Tornaghi who is more composed and capable at this point.

  • In reply to Juergen:

    While I still don't think they'll sit the captain anytime soon, I agree w/ all your points Juergen.

  • My memories of Chris Rolfe besides of ridiculous pictures posted of himself on his website wearing awful hipster clothes are of him having an incredibly quick release on hi shot. He always was able to shoot almost as if he was settling the ball at the same time. I like the idea of Rolfe as somewhat behine Oduro and to right side with Grazzini in the middle but shading more to the left with Nyarko covering for him defensively and Pappa on the right. Grazzini never going to get the legit calls if he keeps flopping all the time. The guy has so much talent, but he has got to be a little tougher.

  • RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando did not travel to Chicago today after suffering a shoulder injury this weekend in the match against New England. Big loss for RSL. Kyle Reynish will likely get the start.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Wil Johnson will also be out due to a red card suspension.

  • how many points do you forsee the Fire getting from the next 2 games?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    The opponents are two of the best teams in MLS but the Fire are at home.....two draws probably would not be a disaster.

    RSL will be tough even without Rimando but Sporting may be ready to come back to earth a little bit after their huge start.

  • New All-in podcast with guest CJ Brown.......

  • An inside look at why Nery Castillo didn't work out in Chicago from his agent.......

    An interesting and rare, behind the scenes look at what soccer players go through when switching not only teams but countries and lifestyles.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    That's a nice write-up, indeed. Thanks for that. I remember those first couple games when he did look pretty good, but he definitely nose-dived and was probably offside more than anyone i've ever seen, ha. But now, shoot, I wish we could have seen that excellent 2011 future-form!

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I agree with RedLine55 - that is a great bit of background on Nery's time in Chicago. Really appreciated. And I love the fact that Philipakos points out that Chicago treated Nery well, especially compared to Donetsk.

  • Any word on Rolfe for Wednesday or Saturday? Maybe? Possibly???

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    He's running but it doesn't look good for Wednesday. I'll ask Klopas about him tomorrow.

  • With Nick Rimando out our chances for a win
    on Wednesday are looking a whole lot better.
    "When the Fire signed Tornaghi Klopas said the
    Fire wanted a keeper that could win games for us."
    I am sorry to say Sean Johnson's current composure
    puts us at risk of losing with his shaky performance so far.
    I wish they would start Tornaghi until Johnson regains his
    composure and demonstrates this in reserve games.

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