Fire 2 Crew 1 - Ratings and Recap

What appeared to be an easy win when the Fire took a 2-0 lead after 26 minutes turned into a nail biter after Gonzalo Segares was shown a straight red in the 29th.  The club showed some resolve by playing a man down for an hour and scratching out a big win against an Eastern Conference foe vying for playoff position.  A hard fought and well deserved three points moved the Fire to 7-5-3 and 24 points just five behind their next opponent, Sporting Kansas City for second place in the table.

No further answers were provided in the ongoing Sebastian Grazzini saga but the Argentine midfielder did expose a "Thanks Chicago" t-shirt after being substituted from the match.  He later threw his jersey into the "Sector Latino" area before celebrating the win on the field with the rest of his teammates.  Frank Klopas didn't shed much light on the matter in the post game press conference (see video above) but did reiterate that the club holds the option on the player's return.  Grazzini departed before media was allowed into the locker room after the match.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (6) - Arguably was the Fire's man of the match with 8 saves on the night.  The biggest was a diving outstretched stop of Josh William's header attempt in the 57th minute.  He was sure and composed in the box but his distribution still leaves something to be desired.

D Gonzalo Segares (4) - A hard challenge after intercepting a ball at midfield resulted in a straight red card.  He may have skated on the red but his studs were showing and that always makes it easier for a referee.

D Dan Gargan (6) - Effective moving forward and helping in the attack before the red card.  After Segares' dismissal he moved to left back and did well there too.

D Jalil Anibaba (6) - Pretty good on balls in the air and the Crew had a ton of them in this match.  Thirty total crosses from open play made for some anxious moments.

D Austin Berry (6) - Solid night from Berry as Renteria was seldom heard from.  Managed a header in the 23rd that Columbus had to clear from the front of goal.

M Pavel Pardo (5) - Tchani got by him on the Crew's lone goal in the 36th minute.

M Logan Pause (6) - Moved to right back after the red card and his absence as the second holding mid was probably felt most when Tchani found the space the get by Pardo and shoot on goal in the 36th.  Did well at right back.

M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Active on both ends as usual.  Didn't get on the score sheet but he was a handful for Crew defenders when both sides had eleven men on the field.  Impressive ball skill in the 28th led to a dangerous foray forward.

M Marco Pappa (6) - A fantastic right footed (yes right footed) strike in the second minute gave the Fire a lead and set the tone for the match early on.  Limited offensively in the second half as the club retreated into a more defensive posture.  Pappa was asked about his future with the club after the match but he brushed that question aside instead focusing on the win.  Check out the video at the Fire Confidential Facecbook page.

M Sebastian Grazzini (6) - Is there really any question that the club needs to have Grazzini on the team in order challenge for playoff spot?  He assisted on Oduro's goal and sprung him for another chance in the 20th minute.  There were no antics on the bench tonight.  He shook hands with the coaching staff and waved to the crowd exposing his "Thanks Chicago" t-shirt as he left the game in the 59th minute.  Was it a genuine show of thanks for support or a good-bye?

F Dominic Oduro (6) - Scored the second goal in the 26th and should have drawn a penalty call when he was tripped in the box in the 61st.  Could have done better with a 1v1 chance in the 20th.

F Chris Rolfe (6) - Worked a few combinations with Oduro after entering the 59th for Grazzini.  Not as dangerous as last week but the situation dictated a little more caution.

D Arne Friedrich (6) - The plan was to wait until the next match to bring him in but he told coaches he was ready to go in this match if needed.  Entered in the 72nd minute for Nyarko moving Anibaba to right back and Pause back into midfield.

M Rafael Robayo (6) - Came into the match in the 80th minute for Oduro and did exactly what was needed in controlling the ball and not allowing Columbus to gain possession while whittling down the clock.

C Frank Klopas (6) - Two consecutive wins for the first time this season is a good step forward, particularly against Eastern Conference opposition.  The Fire came out looking like the better squad in this one and appeared to be headed for an easy victory before the red card changed things.  The club showed some heart in this victory but the road ahead isn't easy.

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  • fb_avatar

    I love Sega, but that was a reckless and not to mention completely unnecessary challenge that almost cost us the game. I would expect that out of rookies like Berry and Anibaba, but not him. I would give him a 3 and I feel even that is generous.

  • In reply to Freddy Coba:

    It was a bad choice of action on Sega's part but it was only one moment of his 30 minutes play which was otherwaise pretty good. I think the 4 rating was fair. Sega DOES seem to have a tendancy to make the occasional play like this which just seems to come out of nowhere given how well he usually plays, but you either live with that or find someone better. While his miscue cost the team dearly last night, they rose to the challenge and "had his back." You could see he was remorseful as soon as the play was over. You wish those things wouldn't happen. But they do. I don't think Sega is a problem. He's a generally reliable defender who pushes the ball forward and contributes regularly to the offense. You could argue that he had a bad game and deserved a 3 but I can't recall a single other miscue by Sega in last night's game.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I agree with that. I thought he had a good 30 minutes before that play, which I think he would admit was a bit reckless.

  • I know SJ is a young kid, but can't they straighten out the distribution bit? Maybe one of the center backs can tell him what to do with the ball each time... roll it out to the outside backs more rather than just bombing it away. These are the basics that should be there by now. You just won possession, so keep it rather than just kicking the long ball. The same thing drives me nuts on throw ins, when a player just throws up the side into 3-4 guys rather than to an open player so possession can be maintained. They should track turnovers and steals like in basketball.

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    I don't know about you all, but I found the reffing to be completely horrid. Yes, that challenge by Sega was a bit reckless, but I have seen a lot worse not called. Usually involving one player doing his own thing, and then getting caught badly. In this case they were BOTH going for the ball from opposite directions. Sega should not have challenged, that was his fault, but there were no bad intentions there, nor was it RED reckless. Oduro penalty challenge? OK, the defender might have gotten the ball, but he clearly recklessly went right THROUGH Dom to get it. Certain challenges by both teams were inconsistently called.

  • This is an important time for our team , we are really coming together now and look to be getting better every game , but this will all change if we let Grazzini go. I know he tends to go away when teaams play physical against him but that will change when the refs start making the calls and when schemes are created to move the ball faster when he has it. However , this team does not make the playoffs without him , we will have all of these fast weapons but nobody to get the ball to them. Dont let this guy get away !!!!!

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Need to shed payroll with the following players: Dube, Puppo, Robayo and Vidiera. Don't forget with Alex added on this roster, they need to add a striker that can finish. Whoever this striker they are coveting, he will be a good complementary with Oduro and Rolfe. Resolving Grazzini's contract is top priority, IMO.

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    In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Don't rely on the refs for one bit. They will allow the opposition to bully Graz. The only adjustment that can be had is he just needs to build up physically, and at this point, I don't know if he can do that, or has the time to make that commitment.

  • Don't understand the no-call on the penalty. We're now officially due a controversial call. The silver lining on Gonzo is that it may have accelerated getting Arne some playing time. The D could use that leadership. Now just get the Ukranian and we're set to rocket up the table.

  • In reply to Doug:

    The trip in the box was a pretty blatant missed call. Referees haven't done Oduro any favors over the last two weeks.

    I'm not sold on getting Shevchenko nor am I necessarily buying that the Fire are actually really interested.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I agree that trip was a pretty routine penalty call that inexplicably didn't get called. After watching the replay I didn't see how it could be overlooked. The only thing I could come up with to explain it was that the resultant fall didn't look all that bad. Perhaps the referee initially didn't think it was bad enough to call the penalty and then, when he didn't call it immediately, he didn't feel comfortable making the late call. You know how outraged teams can get when you make a late call.

  • In real time, I don't know how that's not a penalty. After watching the replay, you see the Crew player get ball before contact is made, but at game speed, there's no way that determination is made easily.

    Sega's red was a silly foul to give. On the flip side though, what I liked about it was the intensity of play the Fire were showing up to that point in the match. They were aggressively going after balls and were playing a strong, physical match. That's the kind of play they need to exhibit down the stretch, especially with some of the matches they have coming up. That said, Sega knows better and should've kept that foot down. That turns it into a 50/50 challenge and a yellow at worst.

  • According to Fox Soccer, the Union have acquired the rights to Bakary Soumare from Vancouver. The Whitecaps had the top allocation spot and sent the pick to Philadelphia in exchange for a six figure allocation.

    The Fire did not have the rights to Soumare since they received compensation for him when he was shipped to France in 2009 after an altercation with Denis Hamlet.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Would have been nice to get him back but thats not one of the spots we need to fill. I actually think it is one of our strong spots. Anibaba and Berry make a nice partnership and Arne can fill in for either of them if needed.

    Sega should not have dove into that tackle on Saturday. Whoever "won" that tackle was going to get sent off. They both jumped into it and Sega "won" it.

    I really like Rolfe coming in for Grazzini at the end of matches. He works hard for the ball and moves the ball well when he is in position. And I will eat my words about Grazzini. He has been playing very well lately and we need to sign him to a deal. His vision is spot on and if Oduro could finish a break away, Grazzini would have atleast 3 more assists from these past 2 games alone. That brings me to Oduro. He should already have 10 goals this season. He misses atleast one break away every game that he plays. I dont understand why he never tries to beat the keeper in those situations. His speed terrifies the defenders and gets him into great positions that he needs to capitalize on.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    That's why another high quality striker is a necessity. The club won't be a legit threat without one.

    Grazzini is a must stay, unless they have a playmaker lined up that would be a legitimate upgrade - and by upgrade, I don't mean a player who has had moderate success in the Swiss second division. Consistency is vitally important in MLS and they've had this group together for a year now. Removing the playmaker and central attacker would almost be starting over after you've apparently found a formula that will work with the addition of another piece or two. Now is not the time to begin removing important pieces.

    Grazzini is 31 and should have several good seasons left. With Marco Pappa surely gone by 2013 you can't be in a position of attempting to replace two of your top three offensive weapons going into next season either.

    Rolfe is a nice change of pace as a playmaker or underneath striker but asking him to do that consistently over long periods of time is simply asking for trouble. The playmaker spot in MLS is targeted by defenses and takes a fair amount of physical abuse and hard contact. Banking on a player with a long history of injuries and missed time would be a highly questionable tactic.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Speaking of ex Fire defenders, looks like Bocanegra will be looking for a new team. This fall of Rangers is remarkable to watch from afar.

  • In reply to Doug:

    Well here's a sickening thought then......New England currently has the top allocation spot.

  • Looks like the dominoes are begin to fall. Kheli Dube has apparently been released.

    Via twitter he said, "Thanks n Goodbye Chicago it's been great. On to the next one."

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    kinda figured that would be coming.

    I hope they still manage to sign Grazzini but Im not holding my breath.

    Also for the people who know more then I do, what is a realistic timeable for Victor Pineda? Any chance of putting him out on loan to lower division like KWS last year? Move into mid-field depth role next year when Pappa leaves? I have yet to see him play but from all things heard and read, seems like he has a chance to be pretty good. Thoughts?

  • In reply to KChance:

    Pineda's made the 18 once or twice since last season but hasn't been called into a match yet. I see him getting a chance to crack the 18 more regularly next season as he continues to develop.

    I'm not sure why more MLS clubs don't loan younger players out in that fashion. It seems like a good idea for playing time alone.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Thanks Kheli, but honestly, we never knew ya.

    I'm going to allow myself to be let down here.

    I expect Chicago to resign Grazzini for another year, at 2-3x his current wage.

    I expect to see a new striker in July.

    Surprise signing of another MLS team shedding a midfield veteran to shore up our ranks in the middle. Chris is back, might as well bring back Justin as well (for a second successful spell I might add).

    There you have it... the cake with all the icing!

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Would this release mean the opening of an international roster spot or was he an exemption of sorts?

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Dube was NOT occupying an international spot.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Damn...I don't know Guille. To quote the great Indiana Jones,

    I've got a bad feeling about this...

  • NBC Sports Network replayed the DC United vs New York game yesterday. Something that ESPN has yet to do with any MLS games. NB Sports Network has better coverage with MLS than ESPN. Yet, it puzzles me when the four letter network replays WNBA games and they have an in-studio post game show.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    I suspect the attention paid to the WNBA was a condition of their contract with the NBA for television rights.

  • Per ESPN, yet another reason not to sign Andriy Shevchenko......

    "Andriy Shevchenko says he will wait "a week or two" before deciding whether or not he will retire. Is it time for the former AC Milan star to call it a day?"

    Retire or MLS?
    No thanks.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I AGREE!!! Thanks for Euro 2012! No thanks for MLS.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Since this comment, Sheva has clarified that he has since received offers that make him lean against retiring.

  • 2012 MLS attendance through Week 16: http://www.socceramerica.com/article/47156/fans-flocking-to-summer-mls-action.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

    Chicago Fire ranked 13th with 14,756

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I'm glad that "football is a bit more than a game" for Shevchenko, but he has got to realize that MLS is "a bit more than a retirement club." Maybe Klinsy can put him in touch with Lothar Matthaus for a reference on that. Or, for more positive examples, he should look at what Schelotto and Blanco did as aging international stars in the league. Say what you want about those guys, but note that neither of them was deciding between football and golf when they were here.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    I couldn't agree more.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Modibo:

    Oh the irony. (nothing with you Modibo lol)

    We get irked when people brush soccer aside, but then golf will be eternally ragged on even though it's just as much a skill and endurance sport as any out there. I don't play golf by the way.

  • Rumors circulating that the Fire are set to sign Dutch striker Sherjill MacDonald. There could be something to this rumor since he is one of the players the Fire looked at in the last few weeks. After posting some unimpressive numbers, this shouldnt be the last move in the transfer window if it's true.

    Kheli Dube has officially been released this morning.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Guillermo I don't mean the following in a bad way;
    Why are the Fire hanging on to Steven Kinney he hasn't
    played in a very long time??
    Michael Videira, Federico Puppo, and Rafael Robayo
    have not impressed and in my humble opinion are expendable.
    This would free up Salary Space that could be used to acquire
    that Proven Goal Scorer that "Is Not Near Retirement Age."
    I also feel that Orr Barouch should be used more in the iterim,
    maybe he will make a positive impact.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    47 goals in 217 games(21% strike rate) throughout his career is not very good if we are looking for a consistent goal scorer, especially since he has only 15 goals in the last 3 years. come on, oduro has had that many and more in the last calendar year. this better not be another puppo situation where leon and petri think it would be a good idea to sign a guy like this that would cost a transfer fee. this kind of rumor depresses me and if it becomes true this will give me another reason to believe that the higher ups have no idea how build a successful team. and another thing we wouldn't be able to sign him until we free up an international spot which could go either way, grazzini not having his option picked up(bad thing) or puppo and/or robayo being released(good thing).

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    MacDonald=better version of Puppo.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Taller. I'm not sure about better.

  • On another suspicious note...

    Sebastian Grazzini was not available to the media again today. According to the club he was training inside and did not join the team for full practice this morning.

    Steven Kinney participated in full training for the first time in a loong time today.

    Klopas also confirmed that MacDonald is one of the strikers they are considering.

    More later today.......

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    WE gave you an HOUR!!! Where is our news!?

    lol - edge of the seat kind of day on the blog. Thanks man. Keep us posted.

    In other news. I heard Robin van Persie is also available for 30m.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Seemingly MacDonald isn't a significant upgrade, rather disappointing, rather have Schevchenko. Although I'm not a Grazzini fan (think he is erratic and sloppy at times) he still is the best option for CMF the Fire have at this time.
    Can't understand why the Grazzini issue isn't resolved by now,
    if the Fire need a significant up grade on the field, it surely is evident
    that the F.O. is in need of a major overhaul.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    The ownership will probably place blame of failure on Klopas before letting Leon or Petrei go.

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