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.
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.