Fire 3 Union 1 - recap and ratings

The Fire continued to improve offensively with both of the club's most recent additions on display in the starting eleven this time.  Alvaro Fernandez and Sherjill MacDonald both started but Chris Rolfe stole the show with two impressive scores.  Frank Klopas' revamped offense has looked very good in the last three matches with possession, movement, and scoring chances markedly better than it has been in several weeks.

The new look on offense may earn most of the attention but the Fire defense has also been in form allowing only three scores in the last 5 matches.  In fact, the Fire have not allowed more than two goals in a game all season (USOC not included) and look to be a solid bet to land one of the five Eastern Conference playoff spots.  With this victory, Chicago is now 4th in the East but trail first place Sporting Kansas City by only 5 points with one game in hand.

The last two and a half months will be a mad scramble.  It should be fun to watch.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (6) - No need for acrobatics again this week and the lone score wasn't his fault but there were some shaky moments on aerial balls.  Cut off Williams on a good chance to cross the ball in the 25th, handled the Union's few accurate shots flawlessly, and improved a bit with distribution.

D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Earned a corner kick that led to the Fire's second goal and got a little more involved getting forward but he was charged with an own goal in the 35th minute.

D Arne Friedrich (6) - Scored his first MLS goal and it proved to be the game winner.  The Berry/Friedrich pairing at center back will only get better.  Great pass to MacDonald in the 60th led to a big chance.

D Austin Berry (6) - Stood up Adu on a dangerous chance in the 32nd and helped keep Philadelphia at bay in the last 15 minutes as the home team pushed for a score and the Fire defense seemed to pack it in.

D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Decent game but most of the Union's danger plays came from crosses emanating from the left side.  Good tackle on Farfan in the box in the 64th prevented a scoring chance.

M Pavel Pardo (6) - Had to pick up some slack centrally with Pause injured and out of the match.  The Union's best chance in the second half came when Michael Farfan maneuvered around Pappa and Pardo to clank a shot off the post.  Other than that, Philadelphia wasn't very dangerous in the middle of the park.

M Logan Pause (5) - Went off just before half time after suffering an apparent rib/side injury as a result of a collision with Bakary Soumare.  Fire had fairly consistent control of the match before the own goal and continued to get the better of the play after Pause's departure.  Phildelphia may not be the best test for a single holding midfielder formation.

M Marco Pappa (6) - Credited with an assist on Friedrich's goal from his corner kick service.  Provided a great ball to Fernandez in the 23rd which resulted in a scoring chance.  Relatively quite for the rest of the night before being subbed out in favor of Alex in the 63rd.

M Alvaro Fernandez (6) - His chip attempt in the 23rd sailed over the net but his combination play with teammates continues to look like he's been here for far longer than two matches.

F Chris Rolfe (7) - Two class finishes should earn him Player of the Week consideration.  A well taken left footed touch provided the first score and a screamer on the run that MacMath couldn't handle out the icing on the cake.  A nifty back heel gave Fernandez a look but his shot was blocked in the 64th.  Also combined well with MacDonald and Alex for chances in the 66th and 87th.

F Sherjill MacDonald (6) - Torched Soumare to find Rolfe for the equalizer in the 43rd minute for a text book assist.  Got his first start today but isn't fully fit just yet and had two excellent chances go by the boards.  Missed a 1v1 against MacMath after a pass from Friedrich sent him in against MacMath.  Had another opportunity go wanting in the 66th as his shot sailed high over the net.  Allows the Fire to play a different look with Oduro on the bench, but like the Ghanian incumbent....strikers need to finish.  Good signs from MacDonald after three matches though.

M Patrick Nyarko (6) - Seems to be the current odd man out of the first eleven with Pappa and Fernandez on the pitch but continues to be productive.  Credited with an assist on Rolfe's second goal.

M Alex (5) - Came in for Pappa in the 63rd and had a nice sequence in the 87th and 88th minutes, feeding Rolfe for a chance and later earning a corner kick.

M Mike Videira (5) - Picked up his first minutes of the season when he entered in the 70th minute for MacDonald.  Looked to replace Pause's presence as the Fire tried to melt away the clock with a 2 goal lead.  Philadelphia had some possession in the last twenty minutes but no real chances.

C Frank Klopas (6) - Another win on the road against a team that had won four consecutive at home.  Klopas has this squad headed for the playoffs.  It's just a matter of how high they will finish in the East.


Next Up: A very winnable home match against the New England Revolution.



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  • I think MacDonald looked really good today. He seemed to stay on the last defender which opened up space for our more creative players to get their heads up and play a good pass. I dont know why but I wasnt getting as mad as I normally do when we miss a breakaway. I think I feel that MacDonald will finish those chances with more minutes. He just seems more comfortable with the ball and hungry to score goals. When Oduro missed his breakaways it was because he has a hard time aiming and trying to hit that target he is aiming at. He will be a good sub for us but shouldn't be starting when MacDonald is fit. Defense looked pretty good and things seem like they are falling into place quite nicely. I'm excited for the rest of this season.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    MacDonald appears to have more in his repertoire than Oduro does and seems to be a better passer. That being said, I still think Oduro can play an important part of the club as teams get a good look at what MacDonald can do. Klopas has options and can play more than one way now.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    i agree, big mac has alot to his game that he has shown in 3 games so far that oduro just simply does not have. if he continues to play like this i may have to take back what i said about him.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I am still not sold on MacDonald due to being not 100 percent in playing shape. However, at least he tries to shot the ball on net and has one assist under his belt; only if Puppo could dream of having.

  • fb_avatar

    Seems to be a better passer? Your too harsh or too kind lol. His through balls were clear cut chances. Rolfe is a poacher, something we have been missing for a long time. A lot of the problems with Rolfe not scoring is not Rolfe himself. He just needs teammates who can get him the ball. He is better at the end of the ball, not distributing it.

    Alvaro was more than serviceable I thought. He made good connections whenever he had the ball I thought. Our new players this Spring/Summer are suddenly impressive. Arne, Rolfe, Berry, and now Alvaro and BigMac. Thats like half the squad.

  • In reply to waam:

    I agree on Alvaro - with both you and Guillermo. He is looking very comfortable on the field, a nice change for our recent DPs - this shows the benefit of going with someone already proven within MLS.

    But I don't think I'd call Rolfe a poacher. Neither of his goals last night were poacher's goals, for instance. I think he can poach when needed, but his first goal was a classic trailing run to a cross at the top of the box, and his second was a laser shot that took MacMath off guard - largely because of his incredibly quick release. I think it's going to take a bit for defenses to get used to that from Rolfe - this is not a guy who telegraphs his shots, even ones from outside the box.

    You make a good point about the new signings. Now, if only we could say that some of the others panned out... but I don't think all is doom and gloom, particularly if we can pull off victories on the road. Granted, Philly is not a huge challenge, but the Fire won convincingly, not by a slim one goal lead. We would have had a shutout, too, if we didn't do the goal-scoring that Philly couldn't do themselves.

  • According to Heerenveen's official site, !
    Marco Pappa will join them in January on a 3.5 year deal.....

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    So that means he'll go on a free, right?

    Well, good for Marco. Here's hoping he lights up the Eredivisie with Heerenveen like Bradley did. But moreso hoping he finishes the MLS campaign with a bang rather than a whimper.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Yes. He'll leave on a free but they've retained his MLS rights.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Never mind the question about the free transfer - that's why you click through on links. Love how the translation calls him both "Daddy" and "Dad." Nice touch by the software.

  • I haven't watched alot of games this year, but this game was sure great to watch! The Fire sure dominated the Union on the road which was impressive! I like the MCd/Rolfe combo up top and our 2 Guanian speedsters off the bench! The group Klopas started I feel is our best 11 and we have some potent players off the bench to come in especially Nyarko and Oduro to burn the tired defenders later in the game when coming on.

    Can we trade Bone already since it looks like he will never get any 1st team time here now or ever? Isn't he making like $150K/yr?

  • In reply to smiley:

    Bone's salary does not count against the cap since he is still in the Generation Adidas program.

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    Lets get this man his own post so we can give him our proper goodbyes! Thanks Marco! Good luck in Europe.

  • In reply to waam:

    He's not gone yet. He's got 11 more games plus the playoffs to go.

    But,'s single post-worthy news.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Now that it is Offical Pappa will leave at the end of
    the season he should be used spearingly. Give Guys
    a chance that we expect to have around next year.
    Pappa seemed a little selfish last night instead off
    passing the ball on several occasions to a wide open
    MackDonald he elected to dribble the ball through defenders
    hoping to get the shot off and in the process lost the ball.

  • In reply to Juergen:

    I still think he's one of your best 11....have to get everything you can out of him in these last 11 games. He's always had the tendency to dribble a bit too much but I'm sure he'll still go 100% when he's out there.

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    Guillermo, just wanted to add a point from our chat: Referee Fotiz Bazakos seemed to handle things pretty well last night- no moments of controversy I can recall. I also noticed that there were zero cards given. Not enough credit is given to officials that control and call a good match. This was one of the good ones. That's all!

  • In reply to Dan Farmer:

    Yea....I thought he did okay too. We always remember the bad efforts but seem to forget the decent ones in terms of the referees. The only real controversy seemed to be a possible missed foul in the box very early on when a defender grabbed MacDonalds arm in order to prevent a clear shot.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    i dunno - i thot he let things get a bit out of hand by not calling very many fouls.

    in particular, the elbow to nyarkos head near the end not even called as a foul let alone a card.

    referees #1 responsibility is to protect the players from reckless or dangerous play where they may get injured

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Maybe he could have pulled out a card or two but I didn't notice him otherwise. That's a good thing for refs. Unfortunately there always going to be some misses and that play was one of them.

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