Revolution 1 Fire 0 - recap and ratings

After a shocking 3-1 loss to Philadelphia at home on October 3 that could have been written off as an isolated flat performance, the Fire seemingly redeemed themselves a week later with a solid 2-0 victory over New York.  That win pulled the club to within three points of Sporting Kansas City and the Eastern Conference lead.  Beating the lowly and undermanned New England Revolution with playoff positioning and one of the top two spots in the East on the line would have seemed to be a given for a club with championship aspirations.

Winning games you have to win, against inferior competition is something that is a trademark of the best teams in sports (not just soccer).  Consistency, coupled with the ability to grind out results in less than optimum conditions is a sign that a club is ready to take a step in the direction of serious championship contention.  The latest "flat" and uninspired performance raises questions about the Fire and their standing heading into post season play.  Are they closer to Sporting and the top of the Conference or are they destined to occupy the 4th or 5th spots in the East?

The Fire have somehow managed to defeat Sporing Kansas City twice this season while losing to the New England Revolution in two listless performances at Gillette Stadium.  Let's forget about the cries bemoaning artificial turf.  Both sides have to play on it and the Revs are by no means a powerhouse while playing on their fake grass and borrowed home field.  Simply writing this one off as a loss while citing the Fire's historically bad record on turf is ignoring the bigger picture.

Championship teams win games of this nature.  Championship clubs don't lose to two out of three games to unarguably less talented squads.  The victory in New York raised the bar and provided some redemption for the loss at home to the Union.  This loss raises the questions and concerns once again.

Which team will show up when the playoffs begin in November?  Anything can happen in the post season but with Championship clubs you shouldn't have to raise the type of questions that the Fire are currently trying to answer this late in the season.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (5) - New England mustered one shot on goal.  Diego Fagundez' 17th minute blast was well taken but it appeared Johnson was shaded a bit too far to his left leaving the far post exposed.

D Dan Gargan (5) - Back in the starting eleven and had a fair night but the Fire had nothing going despite a few support runs from Gargan in the first half.

D Austin Berry (5) - Sat back a bit too far and allowed too much space for Fagundez to tee up the shot that beat Johnson.  Unfortunately that was the difference in the game against a team 27 points behind the Fire in the standings.

D Jalil Anibaba (5) - A decent night at center back in place of Arne Friedrich but why did he duck out of the way of Fagundez' shot?

D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Got more involved in the Fire's floundering attack in the second half but a 72nd minute shot on goal was sent well high and wide of goal.

M Logan Pause (5) - New England enjoyed some possession early but their midfield was largely just as bad as the Fire's for most of the match.  Subbed out in the 82nd.

M Daniel Paladini (5) - I thought he was the Fire's best player for most of the night.  Showed some spark and provided decent service from corners for the most part.  Came out in the 64th minute.

M Patrick Nyarko (4) - The Fire are most dangerous when playing the ball on the ground in an attack funneled through Nyarko and Rolfe.  The Ghanian winger never really got going.  His space was limited, he seemed to struggle with turf bounces, and his passing was less than satisfactory.

M Alvaro Fernandez (4) - He hasn't been terrible but he hasn't been good either.  The concern with Fernandez is that you expect more than just "meh" from a designated player and an individual who has a spot on the Uruguayan National team.  Tonight was another "meh".

F Chris Rolfe (4) - Like Nyarko, he never really got going and seemed to be playing too far into midfield to make himself dangerous in the offensive third.  Playing too deep leaves MacDonald alone on an island.

F Sherjill MacDonald (4) - No service to speak of forced him into a higher position to receive the ball.  The Fire had absolutely nothing going up front.

M Alex (5) - Came in for Paladini in the 64th and really didn't factor into much of any consequence either.

F Dominic Oduro (5) - Entered the match for Pause in the 82nd.  He should have been into the match earlier.

C Frank Klopas (4) - With the club struggling offensively it seemed that substitutions either came too late or were the wrong moves.  Alex for Pause instead of Paladini (as color commentator Evan Whitfield suggested) would have made more sense.  Waiting until the 82nd minute to introduce Oduro's element of speed was way too late in the match to have any effect.  Klopas can't be very happy with this performance and has to regroup once again heading into a match for second place against DC United next weekend.  He's still a solid coach of the year candidate but this should be a concerning loss for the coaching staff.  The decision to sit Friedrich due to turf concerns also backfired.

Regular Season Finale

The Fire can clinch second place with a win over DC United next Saturday.  They can also finish as low as fifth if they lose and New York and Houston are both victorious.  The Red Bulls travel to Philadelphia and Houston is at Colorado.  Nothing is a given.  Another "flat" performance could push them into a one game first round knock out situation in Houston, where the Dynamo has yet to lose.





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  • What an awful performance. I agree with you that championship teams know how to handle lesser competition. The Fire are not showing that. And giving up the first goal is not going to cut it in the playoffs, even if the team does manage to get up for those matches more than the NE and Philly games.

    Ugh. OK - regarding the DC game - Fire, show me what you got.

  • There should be no MLS games played on turf. Especially when it gets wet, there is just no control of the ball, the bounces are exaggerated, and it just isn't the same game. Saw the same thing in the high school playoffs here where teams that play on grass all year send balls to the corners for fast players and the ball just runs away. Hard to adjust after a full season.

    Don't they have a turf practice field at Toyota that they can work on ahead of games like this to try to adjust their touches to the turf?

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    There is indeed a turf practice field at Toyota Park.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    Add to that: they shouldn't allow games on gridiron fields. It looks AWFUL on TV. I had to turn it off after about 5 minutes. I thought New England had a soccer-only stadium.

  • The Fire DO have a very nice turf practice field. That's not why they play so poorly on turf. I agree turf is totally unacceptable for the game of soccer. But Guillermo is correct. Last night's loss was not due to playing on turf. This team has shown a frustrating tendancy to lose to the worst teams all year. Anyone recall the Michigan Bucks?!?

    Some good personnel moves put the Fire into the playoffs. But it wasn't enough to eliminate the problem. The recent devolution coinsides with Pardo's absence. I'm not sure how directly it relates but I sure hope they are seeking a serious replacement for Pavel because, at his age, he won't be the answer much longer regardless.

    I like Logan Pause and he does a lot of good things that go unnoticed but he is not irreplaceable by any stretch. I would say defensive midfield may be the next most targetted area for personnel moves. I also have concerns about the backline if Friedrich isn't returning. This team is still just well enough staffed to succeed. And when certain people are missing, it rapidly breaks down.

    I agreed also that Frank was WAY too slow making moves to deal with the poor results and we've seen this before as well. I still like Frank. But he has to take a lesson from this and become more aggressive and favor certain players (Logan?) less when they aren't producing.

    I forsee another loss next week. They haven't beaten DC since last year and have looked like they are certain they can't beat DC. It isn't going to look good going into the playoffs.

  • Playing down to the level of vastly inferior competition is a time-honored tradition for the Fire.

  • Pretty lethargic offense, from what I was able to catch, but I'm more troubled by the central defending throughout the game. Anibaba ducking on Fagundez' shot was a real head scratcher, and if I'm not mistaken, the last 3 goals against have been as a result of a Anibaba gaffe (not sure on that though).

    Kind of tired of the turf excuse/reasoning. The Fire played poorly, leaving the door open to other clubs and putting themselves in danger of getting relegated to the wildcard match. Not the best place to be with a playoff/conference opponent next weekend. Hope they can right the ship quickly and put DC away early.

  • Marco Pappa made his regular season debut for Heerenveen this weekend, coming on as a 78th minute sub but coach Marco Van Basten wasn't exactly complimentary before the game to him and other players on the squad according to this story.....

    He also criticized the signing of Marco Pappa and whether it was necessary. "He's in Guatemala, he's not really a solid starter/player. He's got a good left foot, he sees the game very well and he technicaly adept. But in reality we have more need for a strong attacker, a controller but we;ll see in the next few weeks where he may or may not fit into our team," said Van Basten.

    Sounds like a coach/front office riff is in the works over there.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    GR, I assume that you're speculating on an internal rift at Heerenveen.

    Here's my take. Now that Pappa has been training with the club every day, van Basten sees what he really bought and is now second-guessing why he bought Pappa in the first place.

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    Total speculation on my part. It just seemed odd that Van Basten would criticize the players they brought in and point out the need for another type of player. If he was indeed the guy who made the decision to bring him in why would he publicly second guess himself in this fashion? Odd.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Dutch people are known for their bluntness. In this case, perhaps van Basten is directing some of that bluntness on himself and may be using that to point out to the players that he's not satisfied with what they've shown him so far.

  • Omar Gonzalez blasts the Earthquakes......

    I can't say I disagree with him.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Don't forget the Juninho yellow card in the 2nd half from Lenhart's flopping job on the floor acting like 250 pound linebacker speared him from behind.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Lenhart is the Big Bird that Mitt Romney should focus on cancelling.

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