Fire 1 Earthquakes 1 - ratings and recap

For 97 plus minutes the Fire battled the top team in the league and held their own.  A spectacular effort by Sean Johnson kept San Jose from at least equalizing during regulation time before a 98th minute strike from Steven Lenhart salvaged a point for the home team.  The effort and the result on the road are overshadowed a bit by the ridiculous amount of stoppage time awarded by referee Chris Penso, especially after Alan Gordon's red card worthy tackle on Dan Gargan in the 93rd minute but the overall outcome should provide some satisfaction.

San Jose came into this match with a league leading 43 points and an impressive 44 goals scored.  That's double the amount scored by the Fire but Chicago was seconds away from earning all three points and a clean sheet.  Given the circumstances that seems a bit hollow but the result is a positive one.  Also consider that the Fire looked better offensively than they have in the previous 5 matches and continued to create chances throughout the match.  Chris Rolfe's 37th minute strike ended a streak of 430 minutes without a goal from the run of play and there were several other opportunities to score another.  Things will get more interesting next week with the return of Marco Pappa and the arrival of Alvaro Fernandez.

Consider that this match was the last game to be played against Western Conference opposition.  The Fire will face only Eastern Conference foes over the final 13 contests of 2012.  With Columbus only 4 points behind (and holding 2 games in hand), the Fire have their playoff fate in their own hands.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (8) - An amazing 10 save performance should earn Johnson serious "Player of the Week" consideration.  In fact Johnson has been in top form for several weeks now and should garner some "Player of the Month" votes.  Spectacular stops in the 21st, 33rd, 36th, 44th, and 85th were all impressive but the best might have been his denial of Gordon's header in the 59th.

D Dan Gargan (5) - Moved to the left side in place of Segares and had a decent game despite having some issues with the pace of Shea Salinas.

D Arne Friedrich (6) - Limited Wondolowski to very few good looks in the box and teamed with Berry to keep a good percentage of San Jose's 34 open play crosses out of danger.

D Austin Berry (6) - Stepped it up in the second half as San Jose pressed for an equalizer.  Fine sliding stop in the 78th to break up a cross inside the 6 in the 78th minute.

D Jalil Anibaba (5) - The Fire's half backs weren't as effective getting forward as they usually are since an effort was made to stay back and stay in front of San Jose's attackers.  The Earthquakes did manage cross after cross in the second half and it seems to me that passing is just a bit better from the right side when Gargan is there.

M Logan Pause (6) - Made a great run in the 79th to end up 1v1 against Busch but his right footed shot was stopped by the former Fire 'keeper.  Had a good game in combination play finding attackers with room to get forward.

M Pavel Pardo (6) - The holding tandem had a decent game but Johnson's heroics really kept San Jose off the board.  The Pause/Pardo combo was better than the Cronin/Baca pairing for the opposition.

M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Hacked and fouled for the entire night.  Should have earned another yellow card or two from San Jose defenders in the first half.  Picked up an assist on Rolfe's goal and had two great passes early on that provided chances for Oduro.

M Chris Rolfe (6) - A beautiful right footed toe poke from outside the box in the 37th minute was classic Rolfe.  He's a true finisher when given a clear look and needs to play a little closer to goal.  So-so passing in the first half improved in the second.

M Alex (5) - Color commentator Evan Whitfield said it best when asked about his performance.  It was okay.  Nothing to write home about.  A blast in the 26th forced Busch into a big save.  Had some good moments and some head scratching ones as well.

F Dominic Oduro (5) - Had a clear look at goal in the 14th minute after being sent in by Nyarko but was denied by Busch.  Hit the left upper 90 with a shot that wasn't pretty but still managed to get on frame.

F Sherjill MacDonald (5) - Entered the match for Oduro in the 64th.  When was the last time you saw a Fire forward play a ball with his back to goal and control it enough to turn and shoot like MacDonald did in the 64th?  The shot was blocked however.  Played a nice ball into Pause that resulted in the 79th minute 1v1 opportunity.

M Hunter Jumper (5) - Subbed in for Alex in the 82nd as the Fire were looking to defend in the final minutes.

M Daniel Paladini (5) - Came in for Rolfe in the 89th.

C Frank Klopas (6) - The Fire nearly came away with another huge win on the road against a top club.  Sean Johnson made things easier but the opportunity for beating San Jose was there.  The Fire may not be the most talented team in the league but they will fight in every match.


Filed under: 2012 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • fb_avatar

    Great effort Chicago. But sorry, this is one more in a long list of why MLS sucks. Sorry for being so negative these past couple weeks, months, years. But you won't have to worry about it anymore, I've checked out.

  • In reply to waam:

    You'll be back in like Al Pacino in Godfather III. ;)

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Sorry all. Heat of the moment comment. Plz forgive me.

    BUT I was pissed.

    Thanks for calling me out. lol.

  • I wasn't too impressed by MacDonald tbh. seemed to really make some poor decisions and one time was WAYYYYY offside and looked to be expecting a pass. he just seemed a bit lazy from what i saw, but maybe it was indecisiveness from not having played with the squad before, so i'll cut him some slack

    ppl can complain about the extra time given, but really chicago did a poor job in the final minutes of keeping any possession - thats why packing 10 in the box to defend is a bad idea - no one near midfield to recieve a clearance.

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    I think I know the time you're thinking of, but that was actually Alex that was hella-offside looking for a pass.

    I thougth MacDonald did well given his short time w/ the team. If anything, his fitness seemed a bit lacking, which is to be expected. I like that he can receive a ball w/ his back to goal without totally botching his first touch. Anything else, in this match, I'm willing to let slide as "first appearance jitters".

    If you follow him on Twitter, the guy's already talking about how excited he is, he's calling Chicago "home", and he seems anxious to come out and perform well for the club. Already leaps and bounds over anything we got out of Robayo.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Oduro's holdup play with his back to goal was actually quite good yesterday. He didn't turn the ball over once all game, which is phenomenal for a forward.

  • In reply to iron81:


  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    yah i was probly mistaken on the offside deal - i had a pretty bad feed i was watching, so i guess i assumed wrongly that it was MacDonald

  • where the hell was this team in the previous 5 games? maybe a smaller field helped? maybe getting rid of puppo and rabayo helped locker room chemistry? but overall i thought the starters played well except for alex. yeah he did have that nice strike on goal, but in my opinion he just didn't look good. other than that we should be able to get 3 points this weekend and hopfully 9 points over the next 3 games.

  • Alex got better as the game wore on. In the first half he was crap. Second half much better. But he's still young, so maybe he will continue to improve. In that, he reminds me a bit of Thiago. Hopefully he will develop further than Thiago ever did for us (though I thought he was shown the door a bit too early--he had some great moves). Alex is a lot tougher and stronger than Thiago, so that should help him.

  • Like everyone, I was massively disappointed with the finale to this game. Props to Lenhart for finally putting a shot where Johnson could not get to it, and on "Bad Hair Day" or whatever they were calling it.

    But the Fire did show a LOT more moxie on offense than they have for what seems like ages - thanks to Guillermo for pointing that out. I admit when I first read the ratings I felt they were way too high, considering how the game progressed. But in light of the 5 prior games, I think there's a lot to be happy with on offense. Give Rolfe credit for his finish - he's now 2nd behind Pappa in goals per 90 minutes (.33 vs. .30 respectively) with 44% of Pappa's playing time (1374 to 609) but only 27% of his shots (58 to 16). My math could be slightly off, but I think what this says is that Rolfe is contributing. If Alex can up his game a bit more - and I agree with Fuegofan that he's showing more signs of that - and MacDonald and Fernandez give us some other dimensions in attack, I might start to feel more optimistic. But only if we remain in the playoff picture.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Alex's starting days are probably numbered with Fernandez coming on board. Also, I thought Ballouchy was pretty good when he visited Toyota Park a few months ago.

  • In reply to iron81:

    I can see Fernandez or Pappa sending Alex to the bench playing in that withdrawn role.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I can't see Pappa in the CAM role, though apparently Frank can.

  • In reply to iron81:

    I agree with you. I don't like him there either.

  • New York has traded Mehdi Ballouchy to San Jose for a 2013 international spot and a conditional draft pick.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    San Jose got robbed. He's not worth more than a bag of balls and that case of Gatorade bottles Yallop tossed on the pitch Saturday.

  • Can teams still add international transfers if the player comes on loan and the team has an available international roster spot open? If so, I smell a scarf cooking in the north parking lot...

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    No.....time to take the seasoning and the condiments off the scarf. ;)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    and if madrid terminates kaka's contract?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Still too late. Player has to be a free agent on the MLS #DeadlineDay.

  • In reply to iron81:

    dammit, maybe next year.

  • What about Adriano out of Brazil? He has been without a club since March. He has had a rough go at things lately but I think he could do well in MLS.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Those are the type of internationals who can be signed.....out of contract and available on free transfers.

    Adriano was a quality striker at one point but the last two years of injuries and questiins about work ethic have to be a concern.

  • LA Galaxy are sending Chad Barrett to Valarenga in Norway on loan.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Heading to Norway, where he'll learn how to finish?

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    he'd have to go to finland for that. you see what i did there? ;)

  • Pissing 2 points away like that could really hurt in trying to make the playoffs. They still have not scored more than one goal in a game since Grazzini left.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    In that Fire and Earthquakes game, Oduro shouldn't been taking out for MacDonald. If Klopas wanted to get MacDonald on the pitch, he should have came in for Pause. If Pause were taking out of that game, that would have had a normal 4-4-2 with Oduro and MacDonald together on top since Oduro is struggling to score goals by his lonesome (Mid: Nyarko, Rolfe, Pardo,Alex/Nyarko, Alex, Pardo, Rolfe). In the 79th minute, that MacDonald pass to Pause, that is the kind play that makes Oduro dangerous with his break away speed go one on one and score could have sealed the deal. Instead, having a defending mid with no scoring ability and caught by surprised that someone passed him the ball and an easy save by Busch. Especially playing a team like San Jose, you can't take things for granted.

  • I was out of town on Saturday so I taped the game. I was hoping that McDonald was a hidden gem from Europe. I watched and re watched his play and came away with only one word to discribe him that is fat. His reaction time was slow or not existent. It is obvious why he was available. We had better hope that the guy from Seattle can play even 75% as good as grazzini to make it to the playoffs. Alex looked awful and completely over his head in the MLs.

  • Too early to pass judgement on MackDonald he knows he has
    to proof himself and start scoring so lets give him a few more games.
    Alex is a fighter and doesn't give up easily and drops back to defend.
    We should not be playing Pardo and Pause at the same time one
    of them needs to sit and come on as a sub if need be.
    Getting Grazzini back might just be the missing piece we now need.

  • In reply to Juergen:

    I agree. One needs to sit. At home Pardo should start as we look to attack pause can then come in in the 95 minute to back pass the ball. Pause can start on the road since winnnibg balls, sitting back on defense and back passing is all hes really good for. Once the opposition scores Pardo could come on to add offense.
    Amazing how all these other teams found players who could help but we were looking in the scrap heap. Even Columbus got that Arrieta and why the heck would anyone want to play there unless for money.
    I get the impression that Chicago has a reputation as being cheap skates and Conde and Grazzini are not anomalies they just didn't handle it professionally.

  • In reply to MikeRUZE:

    Your idea of the "scrap heap" is a guy on Uruguay's World Cup team?

  • In reply to iron81:

    My scrap heap includes players whom another team didn't want because they went out did some real scouting and negotiating and signed a better player. If Seattle did not want him he was scrap heap. it's not like the fire went out and scouted him and really wanted this guy all along he was basically unloaded on them cause he was unwanted.

  • In reply to MikeRUZE:

    Conde was actually offered an excellent deal but he felt he just had to try playing for really big money in Mexico. He got hurt and never got that big offer and now he's back in MLS. I don't fault the organization one bit for the Conde departure a few years ago. However, the Grazzini situation was an absolutely bungled and mishandled mess that still isnt resolved.

  • Anyone make it out to Fire practice?

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Yes....update coming this afternoon.

    Spoke to MacDonald and Fernandez.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    GR will expound in his piece for sure, but both guys seem excited to be here and make a splash. Fernandez looks sharp, and MacDonald is eager. Hoping both can have an impact.

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