After what was probably the club's worst performance of the season, the Fire have seemingly lost the chance to catch Sporting Kansas City for the top spot in the East. Rather than sitting two points behind with three matches remaining the Fire are now five points back of the lead and appear destined to battle for position with the other contenders in the conference.
A loss at home to a Philadelphia side which came into this match with two road victories is difficult to figure considering that the Fire were undefeated against Eastern Conference foes at Toyota Park. Until tonight. There weren't many positives to pull from this one as Philadelphia enjoyed the better of the play right from the get go with the Fire looking disorganized and sloppy. Disorganization led to the first goal and Fire defender Arne Friedrich wasn't thrilled with the result after the match. "I think the problem is, we saw today again that maybe every single player just for five percent maybe thinks that we're already in the playoffs. We forget to defend," said Friedrich in the locker room after the loss. "We were always very good when we kept a good shape and that is what we missed the last couple of weeks (games). That's the worst thing that can happen and we have to work on that. Maybe it's good for our heads that we know that we're not all the way through and that we have to work to defend because in the end keeping defensive shape wins," he said in assessing what has changed in the last two matches.
This game was a mess from the start and leaves the Fire facing the Red Bulls in New York on Saturday with the prospect of suffering three consecutive losses for the first time this season. It was a game more reminiscent of the 2010 version of the Fire rather than the club that finished strong last season and looked like the best team in the East a little over a week ago.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - It's never a good night when you allow three goals to a club that you were expecting a clean sheet against. To be fair the goals weren't Johnson's fault with a defensive break down resulting in the first goal, a well placed blast accounting for the second, and more awful defending late in the game making it three.
D Dan Gargan (5) - Returned to the starting eleven in place of Gonzalo Segares on the left side. Didn't really distinguish himself or make a strong case for replacing Anibaba on the right side. A giveaway in the middle of the pitch in the 16th minute could have resulted in an early two goal deficit.
D Jalil Anibaba (4) - The first goal was a result of the holding mids being slightly out of position, Friedrich pushing up higher to cover for them, and Anibaba failing to cover the space that the German had vacated. Some supporters would rather see Gargan at right back and Anibaba built a case for that move tonight.
D Arne Friedrich (5) - The back line was scrambling early. Friedrich did manage to get on the end of a corner kick or two.
D Austin Berry (5) - Guilty of a give away and sloppy passing to stay in step with just about everyone else on this night.
M Logan Pause (5) - The Fire midfield failed to control the center of the pitch against a weakened and inexperienced Philadelphia team. Watch Pause talk about the match, coming out flat, and missing Pavel Pardo at the Fire Confidential Facebook page.
M Daniel Paladini (5) - Had a free kick glance off the outside of the post in the 19th minute. Pavel Pardo needs to get healthy in a hurry.
M Alvaro Fernandez (4) - Did he depart for Uruguay yesterday? Turnovers and missed shots are not good combinations and seem to be mounting for Flaco.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - The offense came alive a bit in the second half when the offense was funneled through Nyarko on the left side. Assisted on the Fire's only score.
F Chris Rolfe (5) - Forced MacMath into a tough save in the 34th minute but seemed a little bit off which was emblematic of the team as a whole. Slotted into the playmaking role at the top of a diamond late in the match as the Fire pressed.
F Sherjill MacDonald (5) - Looked to shoot a little bit more when he had the chance but missed a wide open Alvarez during a shot attempt in the 21st.
F Dominic Oduro (5) - Scored for this first time since June and kept the Fire in the match briefly before more sloppy defending ended the contest. Moved out to right mid when Franco entered the match.
F Guillermo Franco (4) - Entered the match in the 63rd for Fernandez and didn't waste much time in picking up a straight red card 16 minutes later due to a studs up tackle on Brian Carroll. Had a few decent sequences before that incident but the dismissal effectively ended any chance of a comeback.
M Alex (5) - Subbed in for Gargan in the 77th and forced MacMath into a save in the 84th that resulted in a corner kick.
C Coaching Staff (4) - The talk in training during the week was centered on taking the Union seriously and staying focused for this match. Exactly the opposite happened. May have waited to long to make substitutions forcing Philadelphia out of their shell. The worst game of the year. This is not the soccer.
This one is hard to explain.