Fire 2 Toronto FC 1 - recap and ratings

With their tenth win of the season the Fire have now surpassed their win totals for each of the last two seasons.  Combined with a Columbus loss at DC, the Fire now hold a seven point advantage over the Crew for the fifth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.  Toronto FC sits at the bottom of the table but they are an improved side over what they were earlier in the  season under Aron Winter's direction.

Several good signs were evident in this match.  For the second consecutive game the offense created chances and looked cohesive despite playing with two important new pieces to the puzzle in Alvaro Fernandez and Sherjill MacDonald.  This was the first two goal output since a victory over Columbus at home on June 23, and that last two matches have provided good reason for optimism.  They also continue to display resiliency with their fifth come from behind victory of the season.  That ability to overcome deficits is crucial for teams that are playoff contenders.

With twelve games remaining, all against the Eastern Conference the final stretch of the 2012 season will certainly be interesting.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (6) - He didn't have to pull out the multiple acrobatics in this one but his huge save on Silva in first half stoppage time kept Toronto from taking a two goal lead.  Johnson is at the top of his game right now but this one wasn't spectacular....just solid.

D Jalil Anibaba (6) - He was hit or miss on several crosses but played well at right back.  Klopas has two good choices at this position in Anibaba and Dan Gargan.

D Austin Berry (7) - Dangerous on set pieces throughout the match and scored the game winner in the 84th minute with a well struck header.  The rookie's third goal of the year should earn him some attention for Rookie of the Year honors.  He's also a force on the defensive side of the field.

D Arne Friedrich (6)  - Eric Hassli wasn't much of a factor and Toronto rarely had good looks in the box other than Silva's shot late in the first half.  The Friedrich/Berry pairing is a good one, particularly aerially.

D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Stayed home for most of the match but a great run in the 33rd minute resulted in a well struck shot that forced Kocic into a save and a good scoring opportunity for the home team.

M Pavel Pardo (6) - Toronto played a deep back line in an attempt to limit the Fire's pace but it allowed the Fire midfield tons of space in possession and plenty of room to move forward.  Pardo's excellent free kick found Berry in the 84th for the winner.

M Logan Pause (6) - The Fire midfield won the possession battle by a wide margin (66% to 34% ) and Pause looked like he may have earned a PK call or at least a foul at the top of the box in the 73rd minute but no foul was given.

M Marco Pappa (6) - The horrendous give away in the 17th minute could have been disastrous but the team overcame the error and Pappa played a big part in the comeback effort.  Scored the tying goal in the 64th after an errant clearance by Toronto's back line.  Had another excellent chance in the 72nd minute but his left footed shot was just wide of Kocic's goal.  Some up and downs on the passing side but overall he was active and productive.

M Alvaro Fernandez (6) - Impressive debut for the Uruguayan midfielder playing very well in combination with Rolfe, Pappa, and Oduro.  Had a good look in the 3rd minute but may have waited a split second too long to pull the trigger.  Rolled his ankle late in the first half and was subbed out in the 50th minute.  Fernandez doesn't believe the injury is serious and says he should be fine in a day or two.

F Chris Rolfe (5) - Linked up nicely with Fernandez and Pappa in the first half but also had few errant passes at the same time resulting in turnovers.  Did manage to get five shots off but only one was on target.  A dangerous 8th minute attempt was stopped by Kocic.

F Dominic Oduro (5) - Played a decent game and even contributed in the passing area early on.  Set up Rolfe for the chance in the 8th minute.  Had a couple of contested looks but both shots were off target.

F Sherjill MacDonald (6) - Came into the game for Oduro to start the second half and was a factor in several good sequences and chances.  Set up Pappa's chance in the 72nd after a cheeky pass with his back to goal.  Also combined well with Rolfe and just missed scoring in his first home game with a shot in the 85th minute that rolled wide of the far post.  Very active and promising effort that should give Klopas more options up top over the last 12 games.

M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Came in for Fernandez in the 50th minute.  Drew the foul in the 82nd that led to Berry's game winner.  The Fire midfield continued to control the match even after Fernandez's exit.

M Alex (5) - Entered the match for Pause in the 74th as the Fire pushed for a game winner.  A hard shot in the 77th was deflected wide for a corner kick.

C Frank Klopas (6) - The Fire are now 7-2-2 at home and have not lost to an Eastern Conference opponent at Toyota Park this season.  Beating Toronto at home was a must and the team delivered.  The new players have been seamlessly integrated in a short period of time.

Catch post-game video featuring Austin Berry, Marco Pappa, and Sherjill MacDonald at the Fire Confidential Facebook page.

Comments

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  • Seems to me we've seen Pappa play a great game before, AFTER making a mistake. Think he needs to have a heart-to-heart with himself over why he can't just get himself worked up and play like that without making the errant play first.

    Disciplinaries should be interesting this week after Nelson Rivas' butthead performance.

    btw... signing in was a little bit of an adventure tonight. The sign-in box popped up behind the embedded video box with Frank K. I worked around it by changing the zoom level setting until it relocated enough to be fully visible.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I think Pappa's been consistently good since about the end of April.

    Rivas is going to get a bit of a vacation for sure.

  • Yeah, you're right, except for last night's misadventure on defense. That DID put a little blip in the concept of consistency though...

    I like Marco and he certainly redeemed himself last night. He's really brought it together this year and, to be honest, I should give him credit for taking more interest in the "D" even when he's not so sharp on that side. I was just reminded of how I've noticed before that when he embarrasses himself, he REALLY goes on a mission. What I was thinking was that he could step his game up a notch if he could figure out how to mentally motivate himself for that kind of performance, without having to do the accident first.

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    If Pappa can have this type of a performance the rest of the year, good things will happen. I really like his movement with Rolfe, looks like they are familiar with each other. This game makes me wonder if we actually could play Rolfe in the middle pulling the strings, we controlled the ball well granted it was against TFC.

    Oduro??? The signing of Big Mac is starting to look like a decent signing. Looked much more dangerous.

    I give Frank one big thumbs up on defense overall since he's taken over from last year. It's been a massive improvement over CDLC and even Osorio.

  • In reply to waam:

    Rolfe is a second striker, asking him to create and play in the middle takes him away from goal and sort of negates what he does best. Pappa, Rolfe, Fernandez seemed to have pretty good chemistry already but you're right....TFC gave them way too much room to operate and made it easy to control the ball.

  • am i the only one that thought pappa actually had a pretty bad game and was lucky to get the equalizer?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    forgot to mention, i also did not like how they sat back after taking the lead and going up 2 men. they should have kept attacking for the 3rd and possibly 4th goal. nothing screams confidence builder like destroying an undermanned team.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    The way Toronto absolutely quit on the game after our 2nd goal, I don't blame them for passing it around the back. They made zero effort to tie it up and put no pressure on the ball, even into stoppage time. If they want to give us the points, I say we take them.

  • In reply to iron81:

    i can agree with that, but at the same time why not go for a 3rd? that was a perfect game situation to work on the attack especially with a new striker that appears to be taking over oduro's spot soon.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    They came pretty close to scoring a third anyway.....Toronto wasnt pressing so there was no need to risk a cheap counter that could have led to a tying goal. Running out the clock with a lead would seem the smart thing to do to me.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    When I saw Alex come over to the bench to get ready to be subbed in right before Pappa's goal, I was hoping that he would replace Pappa. Pappa did well to score that goal because it was an occasion where he worked extra hard to win the ball. I wish he would work that hard more often. He didn't have a great game on Saturday. Scoring a goal makes people forget that, however.

  • Pappa DID play with a man-on-a-mission aggressiveness that isn't normally there. He may not have had one of his best games but I like to see him play with that emotional edge. You never know what might happen when he kicks it up to that level.

    I didn't mind seeing Fire play the ball control game without seriously pursuing the extra goal after they went up 2 men. Toronto just fizzled at that point, had no desire for any more of it, and just wanted to get off the pitch. They were WHIPPED. I saw no reason to whip them further by trying to get another goal. It wouldn't have meant much to score under those circumstances and I would say they earned a little honor and respect to simply hold their advantage without engaging in any pointless bullying of an already vanquished lessor foe.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I would've preferred another goal, simply because a single digit GD in the standings is maddening to look at. Also, who knows if something like that might come into play at the end of the season. That said, the right move was to pass it around, since TFC wasn't putting any pressure on the ball. Iron's right, once Berry headed home the game winner, Toronto packed their bags.

    It's also easy to forget that Pappa nearly had a 2nd goal in the 2nd half as well. His cursed right foot caused him to move the ball to his left foot, even though a right footed strike to the far post would've easily gone in. He only had Kocic to beat, but held it too long, and ended up putting it in the side netting instead. He redeemed himself and then some IMO. He knew he screwed up, and worked extra hard the rest of the game to rectify that. Effort and desire go a long way in my book. I thought he showed both Saturday night.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Really? Ordinarily I would agree about killing off a game, but it was extremely awkward the way we were playing in the final ten minutes. First of all, we are a mediocre team and we were up by only one goal against the worse team in the league - it's not like we would be beating up on them by wanting to win by more than one. Also, like Jeff said, we need the confidence, the practice and the goal difference, as it may mean something down the road.

    Most unusually, we weren't just trying to waste time, we were actively refusing to attack - we had tons of space since they were down to 9 men, but we wouldn't take it, as if we were instructed to not run up the score. Of course, it seemed like MacDonald couldn't help himself.

    Anyway, I thought it was bizarre. Killing a game is one thing, but I would have rather seen us go for the jugular this time. Regardless, I thought both MacDonald and Fernandez were impressive.

  • In reply to manyou07:

    What the Fire did was absolutely what they should have done. How many times have we had a lead and then given up some stupid counter attacking goal to tie or lose a game. They gave up and we killed off the game. We continued to attack when the opportunity was there and we looked in complete control.

    For every good thing that happens to this team, some people find the negative in a good situation. Why is the team only winning 2-1? We should be scoring 3 goals instead of 2. MacDonald didnt score on his debut so the FO is to blame for that. Bla Bla Bla.

    I think we saw some real glimpses of what MacDonald can offer and I liked what I saw. He was visibly angry that he didnt score and was working hard to get the ball and lay it off. Just what we need from our lone striker. Hopefully he will put Oduro on the bench and come in later when the defense is tired and his speed will be more of a factor. But it looks like someone is going to be the odd man out in the midfield. Rolfe, Pappa, Nyarko, Fernandez. One of them is going to get left out but I dont know who its going to be. Maybe Rolfe and slide Fernandez in to the middle. We'll see

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    My guess is that Klopas will rotate a starter or two in midfield depending on form, tactics, and opponent.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    "How many times have we had a lead and then given up some stupid counter attacking goal to tie or lose a game."

    Hardly ever. The San Jose game was the first time we had dropped points after conceding after the 75th minute in 40 something games, which is a league record.

  • In reply to iron81:

    how many games were we able to score first? not many if my memory serves correct.

  • With 12 games left in the season, this team have to win at least 5-6 games to guarantee a playoff spot. 7 out of the 12 games they face teams that are out of playoff contention and have to take advantage.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Guille --

    Anything new on the Mike Jeffries end? I believe your report but noticed the club isn't saying anything -- seems to be the trend in most technical staff hirings and firings with the Fire.

    If I remember, Mike wasn't even announced when he rejoined... same for Mr. Petrei. Also, when did Javier become President of Soccer Operations? Did we miss that press release as well?

    The fact that this is the trend means I can't blame the front office for these missteps. Seems like something Andrew believes is an intelligent way of doing business. Wish he would realize that a bit of transparency could go a long way to help the club and his own image with the fan base.... Its never a good thing to keep your fans less informed or obfuscate quite obvious happenings.

    Andrew if you're reading this, see Grazzini (who's family problems have him looking at a new club: http://tinyurl.com/cj37yfo), see Megabandera, see treatment of Peter Wilt and CJ Brown as well as the memory of Brandon Kitchens and Dan Parry all as examples of things you've messed up.

    Add Mike Jeffries to that list now.

    I'm glad the team is performing well right now but I don't see how getting rid of someone that knows the league and the American soccer scene like Jeffries in favor of keeping Javier Leon and mystery man Petrei is a good thing for the future.

    Makes me sad that someone that's been such a servant to the club is let go in favor of two Andell lackies and the group can't even muster up a press release to let us know. Jeffries sure as hell deserves more from the club but look at how they've treated the likes of CJ and Peter.

    Thanks for the reporting Guillermo.

  • Nothing official yet on Jeffries but he has been let go.

    Grazzini and his agent are continuing to shop around with various clubs in Argentina. Neither side has done themselves any favors in that situation.

  • Should start a count on how many days they go without saying anything...

    You reported it on Saturday so we're at Day 4...

  • In reply to seaside:

    The club tells me that Jeffries is still officially employed by the team.

  • Key word being "still"?

  • Montreal has traded goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts to Portland in exchange for their 'keeper Troy Perkins.

  • Ah, better GR. :)

  • Wait, double trade? So where did Perkins go?

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    My mistake....corrected above.

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