Twelve victories and 41 points pushes the Fire into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference table. The team continues to push the game from an offensive standpoint and is creating ample opportunities to score. Chris Rolfe, Patrick Nyarko, Marco Pappa, Alvaro Fernandez, and Sherjill MacDonald have combined to provide a look at a core of attackers that are capable of playing some of the most (dare I say) attractive, attacking soccer in the league at the moment. Things could have gone better and this score easily could have been 3 or 4-1 but it seems like the club is finding it's stride at just the right time.
With the Sean Johnson and the defense also playing well things appear to be looking very good in terms of securing a post season spot. New York and Houston both play on Sunday so the trip up to second place could be a short one but this team can play with either of those two sides. This is a playoff bound Fire team.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - Didn't have a whole lot to do as the defense is playing pretty well in front of him and limited New England to only 7 shots. Johnson registered two saves including a diving stop on Soares' long distance attempt late in stoppage time. The Revs' only score came on an unfortunate bad touch in front of goal. It was a bit of a garbage goal.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) - The second year forward is getting a shot at right back partly due to Klopas' desire to get more active in the penalty area on corners and set pieces. Anibaba was able to get his head on two corner kick services in the 43rd and 45th minutes that sailed just off the mark. Played a decent match on both ends.
D Arne Friedrich (6) - Owned just about everything in the air and cleared away numerous crosses. The Fire are 7-1-2 with Friedrich and Berry in the starting line-up. Dangerous on set pieces as well.
D Austin Berry (5) - His touch was the unfortunate one that led to New England's only score. A loose ball in front of the net ended up at his feet but the angle of the bounce to his foot played the ball toward Fernando Cardenas who scored while lying on the ground. Did manage to get a shot on goal on one of the Fire's 11 corner kick attempts. Another good night from Friedrich with the exception of the NE goal.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Had a few nice combinations with Nyarko to push the attack forward and had a good night defensively. The only issue came in the 17th when Guy beat him to the endline and got off a cross that Friedrich cleared.
M Pavel Pardo (6) - Good service on corner kicks all night although the Fire failed to score directly from a set piece opportunity. Missed on a good look at goal in the 80th minute when his blast sailed just over the crossbar. New England had a brief spell of good ball movement in the first half but other than that stretch the Fire midfield controlled the game.
M Daniel Paladini (5) - A decent effort from Paladini in place of Logan Pause although it should be obvious to most that the Fire is much better at the "destroyer" position with Pause in the line-up. Set up Oduro with a chance late.
M Alvaro Fernandez (6) - His best chance to score came in the 54th when his well struck volley was knocked away by Reis. An apparent cross also glanced off the crossbar in the 40th. Decent match but passing could have been slightly better from the right side.
M Patrick Nyarko (7) - Left the game in the 75th minute after taking a hard knock. Nyarko says he's dealing with back and hamstring issues but he still caused New England fits and burned a pretty good defender in Kevin Alston several times. His influence in a playmaking role from the wing will be crucial over the last ten games and the playoffs so I suspect Klopas will do what he can to rest him occasionally. Involved in both of the scoring sequences for the Fire. His pass led to the penalty foul on Rolfe in the 4th, assisted on the second goal, provided numerous dangerous crosses, dazzled with his footwork, earned corner kicks, and nearly scored himself on more than one occasion. One of the most dangerous players in MLS with the ball at his feet.
F Chris Rolfe (7) - Bossed the middle of the pitch from the withdrawn forward spot for much of the first half. New England had no answers for him through the first 45. Earned a penalty kick after drawing contact from Soares which set the tone for match. Put away the spot kick to give the Fire an early lead and continues to combine very well with MacDonald up top. Quieter in the second half but still had an outstanding night.
F Sherjill MacDonald (6) - Slipped in between two New England defenders to head home the game winner but MacDonald still thinks he can do better. "When you get a lot of chances you're going to score," said MacDonald after the match. "Today I didn't have the best game. I'm happy to score the goal but I'm not satisfied with my game today. I'm happy the team won but I have to get better. I feel like I get too many chances. Around 65 I'm very tired so I have to improve a lot."
F Dominic Oduro (6) - Came into the match for MacDonald in the 71st and created some havoc of his own nearly missing the far post in the 86th minute after a nice move to create a shot in a 1v3 situation and another shot in the 93rd minute led to a corner kick. Hitting defenses with Oduro late in the game after MacDonald wears them down could be a good substitution pattern for Klopas.
M Marco Pappa (5) - Entered in the 75th minute for Nyarko and provided a good chance right away with a beautiful 40 yard switch of field pass to Fernandez to start an attack.
M Mike Videira (6) - Subbed into the match in the 79th in place of Fernandez. Forced Reis into a big save with a shot in the 80th minute and set up Pardo for a chance seconds later.
C Frank Klopas (6) - Frank Yallop will get all the attention for coach of the year honors but a few more victories should get Klopas into the conversation. The new additions have meshed almost seamlessly and he's managed to keep everyone focused and together during the Grazzini fiasco. The Fire did what they had to do in this match. They defeated a bad team at home. There were some good moments but Klopas wasn't resting on any accomplishments just yet. “When you win, the result is the most important thing in the end. But we always talk about playing good soccer and the result being disciplined. At the end of the night, I didn’t think that we were particularly good with the ball. We had a lot of turnovers and were sloppy with our passing. On the other hand, we created a lot of chances. Even though we were ahead in the stats in possession, we were not sharp. We need to finish our chances. It’s great that we’re creating, but we need to focus in the final third and put teams away. The longer you keep it tight like that...New England has a lot of quality players. It was a great win but we need to keep working. We found a way. The guys were committed until the end. A very important three points.”
Next Up: At DC United on Wednesday night