Galaxy 2 Fire 0 - Recap and Ratings

One of the keys to a successful season is not celebrating wins too loudly and not pressing the panic button after losses.  Frank Klopas didn't seem worried about the result after the Fire dropped a 2-0 decision to the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday afternoon.  "It's one game.  We didn't lose anything right now.  There's a lot of games to be played and we have to move on," said Klopas after the match.

Klopas also didn't think the absence of Sebastian Grazzini affected the outcome since the club has managed to earn results in the last two matches without the Argentine playmaker.  "We've played the same way with Chris Rolfe and Alex.  We have Rafael Robayo who is good with the ball.  We have players that can create.  Everybody has different characteristics.  I feel very good with the group that we have," said Klopas when asked if the club needed to adjust without Grazzini.

The Fire earned positive results on the road with a specific game plan that involved playing tight and conservatively in hopes of cashing in on a counter attack while absorbing some pressure and giving up possession.  The plan work perfectly in Kansas City when Sean Johnson and the defense made one goal stand up.  The plan wasn't as effective in Houston although it did produce a hard earned point on enemy turf.  This loss at home isn't enough to sound the panic alarm but it should be noted that the club has scored only one goal in the last three matches.  Those three matches have all been played without Sebastian Grazzini.

In the two home matches prior to Grazzini being left off the game day roster for lack of training/personal issues the Fire scored five times.  It's not enough to sound the alarm after one match but those numbers surely are not coincidence.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (5) - Managed three saves but Los Angeles wasn't exactly playing dangerous free flowing soccer either.  Allowed two goals but one was a penalty kick and the other was essentially a 1v1 against Robbie Keane.

D Jalil Anibaba (4) - Actually played an okay game with the exception of being the culprit of a handball call at the edge of the box that resulted in Keane's PK score.  Dan Gargan is probably a better right back at this point in the season.

D Arne Friedrich (6) - The Galaxy had about as much going as the Fire did offensively but they were able to capitalize on two mistakes.  Friedrich and Segares were probably the Fire's best players on the day.

D Austin Berry (5) - Two uncharacteristically bad passes out of the back almost cost the Fire.  Not as sharp as he has been in previous matches.

D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Steady game for the veteran left back who also got involved in the little bit that the Fire produced offensively.

M Logan Pause (5) - Broke up a handful of plays in midfield but when given a chance to start a perfect counter attacking opportunity in the 27th minute with Nyarko and Oduro streaking for the other end, a hastily hurried and badly taken attempt at a forward pass was promptly intercepted by the opposition.  Subbed out at half time.

M Pavel Pardo (4) - Had a chance to break up the play that led to the second LA goal but he decided to rush over and chase Landon Donovan across and in front of Patrick Nyarko who was already attempting to mark Donovan.  The decision left Robbie Keane alone in the area that he vacated.  Without Grazzini, Pardo may need to step up his game to 2011 form.  A decent free kick attempt was deflected over the net in the 50th minute by Saunders.

M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Drew fouls in dangerous areas twice just outside the top of the box and managed to earn a corner kick after taking on three defenders in the 63rd minute.  The Fire didn't have much going forward all game long.

M Marco Pappa (5) - Much like Nyarko, Pappa was called upon to create something offensively but the Galaxy had an answer for just about everything the Fire had.  Pappa said after the match that there is a bit of an adjustment playing without Grazzini.  "For sure.  I think he was an important player for the team," said Pappa.  He also said that there's still nothing new to report on his future.  "Nothing yet.  Like I said, I'm going to keep saying the same (thing).  I still have a contract to the end of the season. I'm working hard to see if I'm going to have options in the future but right now nothing is for sure," said Pappa.

M Chris Rolfe (5) - This game should highlight the fact that Rolfe isn't a central midfielder who can routinely drop back and carry the ball forward to orchestrate an attack.  He can work effectively as an underneath striker capable of springing a player with a precise pass during the run of play but methodically spearheading an attack is not his forte.  Those type of players are hard to come by.  A bit of a lazy pass was intercepted by Donovan in the 78th minute all but sealing the Fire's fate in this match.  Rolfe still does other things very well but asking him to play Grazzini's role is a bit unfair.

F Dominic Oduro (4) - It seemed the Fire resorted to attempting to play long balls over the top to Oduro for a while in the first half but LA defenders were ready for it every time.  The Fire offense looked suspiciously like it did last season before Grazzini arrived.  Chicago got virtually nothing from the forward position in this match.

M Alex (5) - Entered the match at half time replacing Logan Pause thereby switching the Fire's formation to a 4-4-2.  Provided a brief spark with some pace but activity doesn't necessarily indicate accomplishment.

M Rafael Robayo (5) - Came into the match for Oduro in the 66th and slotted into the central attacking midfield spot pushing Alex forward with Rolfe.  This didn't work either.

F Orr Barouch (5) - Subbed in for Rolfe in the 80th minute but failed to really factor into anything of consequence.

C Frank Klopas (4) - Losing at home in this fashion is never a good thing but Klopas is right in saying that it's just one loss.  Unfortunately he's going to continue to face questions about Grazzini's status if the Rolfe/Alex/Robayo trio can't duplicate what an actual #10 was able to provide.  The Fire now have a week to prepare for a tough Vancouver side next Saturday at Toyota Park.

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  • It seems that Klopas sticks to his guns and plays the same tactics week in and week out. LA had the perfect game plan and Klopas couldn't adjust to counter LA's plan and just stuck to his original plan which to me never looked like working. So check out my comment in the previous thread you might get a kick out of what my brother had asked me.

  • I understand Frank's comments. He's got to maintain the positive team attitude, doing all he can to stave off the sense of panic. But his comments that playing without Grazzini the last two games made no difference because they still got the results is rediculous. Over the last 3 games, the Fire has scored just 1 goal, none in the last 2 games. By comparison, they had 5 goals in the 3 games before those last 3. The only reason they had results in the first 2 games was they shut out the opposition. They've become a solid defensive team, despite yesterday's results. But they cannot afford to depend too heavily on defense. We have too many young defenders, still learning their game, whose inexperience will show under the pressure.

    Despite all the positive talk, Grazzini is MISSED. And will not be replaced by Alex, Rolfe, Robayo, etc.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I agree, especially when his comments don't match those of his players. Nyarko (via another paper's interview):
    “It’s been a year [the Fire has played with him],” Nyarko said. “A whole year is a lot of games playing with him, and you know what he can bring to this team. You know what he can do. We really got used to it; I’m not going to lie.”

  • It's simple... Rolfe is NOT an CAM, he's a striker. Put him where he is most efficient. Anibaba is a center back, not a outside back. Put Gargan out there. And to say Grazzini is not missed? I don't know what Frank is thinking. I'm sorry, but there is no way Robayo, Rolfe, or even Alex (although I still need to see more of him) will fill Seba's shoes in the middle. Yeah, we can counter attack still with the speed up top, but if opposing teams are smart, they just sit their backline deep so Oduro and Nyarko can't get by them, which has happen most games this season when we couldn't do sh*t offensively. This team can't sit tight defensively every game for the rest of the season with no offense. With the East being pretty competitive all year, we are going to need to figure out how to score and quick.

  • In reply to pezkoreaddict:

    Yesterday, "The Football Show" on Sirius/XM with John Harkes (??) briefly discussed the Fire/Galaxy game and mentioned that without Grazzini in that game, the Fire looked stagnant.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    If John Harkes thinks so it must be true. ;)

  • Guille, when's the international/MLS transfer window closed? I'm beyond frustrated from yesterday's game since it was one, had Grazzini been in, the Fire should've won easily. The glaring need for a creative, play-making CAM has to be filled soon and if the answer is in-house then give Robayo or Alex the start over Pause or Pardo. They're both playing the same style and every time they play together without a true CAM it feels as though we're attacking with 4 and defending with 6. Teams will continue to exploit the midfield with this style of play! ARG!!!

    Side note: When do you think the emotional letter from Grazzini's agent explaining the break-down of his situation with the Fire will come out? Maybe we need Jimmy Conrad to tweet a few insults his way?

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    The secondary window closes on July 27. I would expect that some time in the next few weeks Grazzini will be either loaned or transferred to a team in Argentina so that he "can be closer to his family", but that's just my guess. I don't believe for a second that he's coming back.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Let's hope the Grazzini situation is resolved quickly, so an international slot can be opened. Consequently not only will the Fire need a top flight striker but an effective CAM as well unless we get a Messi type forward that creates his own opportunities.
    At this time a CAM is probably a higher priority than a forward.
    I don't see a CAM in the Fire camp that could fulfill this role.
    What difference does it make getting a quality forward when no one else can get the ball to him.
    At least with a quality CAM, the team still can be somewhat competitive with the forwards they have now.
    I'm not in favor of cutting Robayo as we need a backup for Pardo who is showing his age.
    Puppo our current DP can go.
    The most ideal situation is getting both a quality forward and a CAM, but probably too much to ask for with the current F.O.
    If the Fire stay pat, they may be able to limp into the playoffs but wouldn't make it through the first round.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    Grazzini's locker has been cleared out and his nameplate has been removed from the locker. I'm sure they could easily replace the nameplate but why take it down if you believe he's coming back at some point when the "personal issues" are resolved.

    Just sayin'.

    I think Robayo can be useful if they keep him for the rest of the season. Puppo.....not so much.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I agree, we'll probably see the second coming of Jesus before we see Grazzini back in a Fire uniform.
    What I meant when I said "when the Grazzini situation is resolved" I wasn't thinking he was coming back, but hoping that he goes off the Fire's book quickly, opening an international slot so we can get a CAM relpacement.
    Or isn't a replacement in sight.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    The lack of names for possible additions other than Sherjill MacDonald should be a bit of a concern.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    the addition of Sherjill MacDonald should be a bit of a concern if thats the best they can do.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Agree. Logan Pause looks like a USL level player and doesn't belong on the pitch. And Rolfe couldn't hold the ball to save his life either, getting easily knocked off.. clear why he needs to work up top.

    Getting to be a patchwork of players coming in and out without any continuity. I'd rather see young promising players come up through the system than this bunch of mercenaries.

  • What about Michael Owen or Luis Saha as potential forwards for us? Owen is only 32 and I think he would be a better asset to us that Oduro is. Owen would finish more than half of the chances that Oduro gets himself into. Saha is a big, strong player that was getting games at Tottenham this previous season. Owen Hargreaves is also available. I know he is a huge injury risk but I wouldnt mind seeing him in Fire red.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Owen might be interesting but he's got an injury history as well. It seems he has a big money offer in Dubai and Saha has drawn some interest from Sunderland. Hargreaves is only 31 but reportedly considering retirement. All three would be better options than what the Fire currently have but I don't see them competing with monetary offers from Dubai or the Premier League.

  • No having Grazzini had everything to do with it , this team can not create without him , it has no midfield authority without him , the team had been badly outplayed in the midfield without him.

  • I hate to say this because they are 2 of my fav players.. but both nyarko and oduro are limited players. Dom is a 1 trick pony that teams have figured out, and that is only helped by the fact that teams know Nyarko is not a goal threat, which is not a good thing for an attacking player. Defenders can play for the pass when nyarko has it, or when someone else does they can cheat to the middle because they don't have to mark him on crosses, as his terrible header showed.

  • so GR do you ever get to interview the owner at all in a setting not like the media dinner or "town hall" meetings? i would be curious to hear what he has to say for himself if fans were able to ask him questions. also any other news on the going to spend "keane like money" on thin air? and since nyarko said that they do miss grazzini is he unexpectedly going to leave the team also with "family problems"? ;)

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Yes....He's actually quite approachable. Im hoping to do something like you're suggesting right here on Fire Confidential some time this summer.

    Pappa also suggested that it would take some time to adjust to playing without Grazzini.

  • It is kind of surprising that the Fire don't provide us with any
    news release or update on the Grazzini situation.
    Its frustrating that all they offer is the Logan Pause excuses for
    what went wrong on Sunday, when his sub par performance
    is a part of the real problem. I brought six with me and my wife
    who originally did not want to go. Upon arriving before the game
    it was a great atmosphere but not so after the sub par game.
    I had to make excuses for the Fire performance and what
    went wrong on our long ride home. Grazzini not there that can
    deliver the well timed passes and the proven finisher was the
    real problem. Klopas says he has the players I Strongly disagree.
    I would like to sit Pause a game and give Robayo a start in his
    place and see if he can deliver in his so called natural position.
    The Fire have players that aren't being used and non performers
    that can be replaced to free up funds and cap space to bring in
    the players that are needed to turn this Mess arround.

  • In reply to Juergen:

    Blaming the experience of you and those who came with you on the team's subpar game and lack of Grazzini is like me saying I had a lousy birthday because of the game. The day is what you make of it, and going to a match is an automatic 50/50 chance things aren't going to fall your way. It is what you make of it, and I doubt anyone coming is going to refuse to go to another game because they saw one loss. While I agree that there are issues needing addressed w/ the team, that notion seems a bit melodramatic to me.

  • Jeff I agree with you on your reply back to me and I know there
    is a 50/50 Chance of winning or not. I just have issues with the
    effort the Fire displayed on Sunday and Klopas making the
    statement he the players in place to make a positive difference
    when he does not. "They may not need Grazzini but they do need
    someone like him which they don't have at the moment unless Robayo
    can surprise us if given the chance to play in his natural position.
    I don't agree the way the Fire handled Grazzini and not informing
    us Fans of the situation and what they plan on doing to fix this disaster.
    I want the Fire to succeed and their Fan base to grow I just don't
    think they have the right people in place to make this happen.

  • In reply to Juergen:

    Couldn't agree more. All your points there are completely valid. I think to a certain degree Frank's hands are tied though, which is why most of my finger pointing is directed at those above him. In the end, it is the decision making and mental impotence of the higher-ups that's effecting the team on the pitch. Frank HAS to tell the media and fans that he's got the people that can fill the slots, because that's all he's got to work with.

    I'm sure different conversations from that are going on behind the scenes, it's just a matter of whether or not they're heeded. Grazzini is the perfect example of that. Frank said numerous times that he wanted Grazzini back, that Grazzini was a starter and a vital part of the offense, the powers that be above him trumped that though, and Grazzini's gone. Not much Frank can do about it when the strings are pulled by others in the organization. Comes back down to Frank being in a "damned if you do/damned if you don't" position. He can talk all day about who he wants on the team, but if the FO doesn't give him those tools, he's still in the crosshairs to make the players he's got perform.

  • As the dog days of summer settle in, the transfer window fritters itself away, and deathly silence eminates from the Fire front office, MLS.com has dropped the Fire back down to 7th in the Power Rankings and is running the headline "DC United introduce new investors Thohir and Levien."

    Now I'm thinking that week or so before the Galaxy match was probably the high point of the year. How 'bout them Cubs!

  • A report out of Argentina claims Sebastian Grazzini, who is at issue with the Fire has been offered to several clubs in Argentina. A deal for a one year loan, free of charge is mentioned. A deal to Atletico de Rafaela would make Grazzini one of the highest paid players on that club.

    The report has yet to be verified.

  • so a few weeks back frank had mentioned that there are plenty of players that want to come and play for chicago, was he just saying that because upper managment told him to say it or did he mean it? if it was truth why are they not here? i would rather have players that want to be here than ones that don't or give effort.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Given that a few starters, (Pappa, Friedrich & Grazzini) will probably not be back next year. Robayo is not happy, Pardo is noticeably slower and Johnson is in the final year of his contract we seem to be resigned to another year of rebuilding. There are too many players on the bench not getting a sniff of playing time. The answer always seems to be bring in CHEAP talent from outside the US to put a band aid on the problem, then when they do not work out, change the band aid for the same problem. It seems that the promising young talent is not getting the development they need to get to the next level. Given the instability, lack of player development and the revolving door on imports who infrequently pan out, the staff would be challenged to find players who want to be here.

  • In reply to DerSting:

    I believe they have an option on Johnson for next season and I agree with the sentiment of addressing stability but I dont necessarily agree with the notion that young talent isn't getting an opportunity to develop. Berry and Anibaba have had plenty of playing time and Nyarko had the same coming up. Simply awarding playing time to guys like Bone and Barouch just because they're young doesn't make sense either. Players need to earn the time by beating out veterans and that just hasn't been the case.

  • You have to throw them in periodically to measure their progress. Bone has been here 3 years. Has he shown growth or progress with the team? Is Barouch developing here. We do have promising defensive talent, they get time. It would not hurt to give the veterans a spell here or there if a playoff run is in the future. The starters look tired. Couldnt look any worse than they did on Sunday.

  • In reply to DerSting:

    Interesting article by Tweed Thornton on HTIOT. http://www.hottimeinoldtown.com/2012/7/9/3146133/burnt-out-is-frank-klopas-playing-the-fire-into-the-ground#storyjump

  • I've haven't been able to dig into it too much, but according to the Twitters, Sherjill MacDonald may not be coming to Chicago due to visa issues.

    So there's that, too.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    They're not saying that he's not coming or anything, just that his visa hasn't come through yet. There shouldn't be a problem unless there is something in his past like Luke Rodgers's assault conviction.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    I heard former Wigan Athletic striker Hugo Rodallega is currently a free agent and he is going to turn 27 in July 25. If they are looking for a striker that can score, why not go after Rodallega? Sure beats Sherjill MacDonald.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Seems Rodallega is headed for either Fulham or Everton.

  • Dear Fire,

    Please sign someone really good. Actually, please make that 2 really good players since we just lost one. Guillermo says you read this blog, so hopefully you've gathered by now that most of us are losing patience with draft picks and depth signings. We've waited 2 years since you've made any significant moves, besides the wonderful Puppo DP move, so please pacify the masses with a couple of moves that show you are sincere in your desires to win trophies.

    Thank you,
    Drew

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