Dynamo 2 Fire 1 - Season ends abruptly

This wasn't the end the Fire were envisioning a month ago when they pulled to within one win of first place in the Eastern Conference.  Houston knocked the Fire out of MLS postseason play with a 2-1 victory at Toyota Park and exposed the fact that the team still has some growing to do before they can take the next step into title contention.  Chicago once again allowed the first goal but could not recover this time.

While the finish to the season was certainly disheartening and the last month featured the worst stretch of form displayed throughout the entire year, fans should take some solace in the advancement the club has made on the field in the last 12 months.  The club is in a position to challenge for playoff contention now and has a core of players that can be competitive going into next season.  Additions are needed in order take the leap into Cup contention for 2013, unfortunately we'll be talking about those moves a little earlier than most had hoped.

Stay tuned for more post game coverage....

Coming attractions

  • Arne Friedrich says he would like to return to Chicago next season but nothing has been agreed to yet
  • Alvaro Fernandez talks about his time with the Fire and his status for 2013
  • Thoughts on the match from Patrick Nyarko, Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry, and Sherjill MacDonald



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  • Sean Johnson, Flaco, Anibaba & Segares were all very poor last nite. Nyarko had some very good and very bad moments

    Toledo performed as I expected - no yellows until late, allowed lots of trips & pushes from behind (both ways, he was consistent in that regard) & allowed the match to start to get a bit chippy. Anibaba had a sequence where twice i thought he deserved a yellow. cant say that he favored one team or another, but i just don't like the play bordering on so rough that injury risk is there.

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Couldn't agree more Count. There were countless times were I found myself saying that if I were Toledo I would've booked half of the Fire for dissent. That went both ways but we all knew it was going to be bad going in. Hey, it could've been worse; two words: "Michael. Kennedy."

    Now on to speculating on what could've been and what's next...

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    Getting into the playoffs don't mean much unless you win. Simple.

    Season ending abruptly always happens to the loser in the playoffs lol.

  • Agreed. Other than Friedrich, there wasn’t much there. The Fire got the result then deserved.

    The boxscore has the crowd at 11,000 … seems way too high to me. Must have been a lot of people dressed up as empty seats for Halloween.

    8:30 PM start on a school night and Halloween at that … brilliant scheduling by MLS.

  • WOW terrible luck to start the game with Anibaba falling and leaving Bruin unmarked for the uncontested header goal. The defensive lapse for Bruin's 2nd goal!

    As Taylor Twellman said there aren't enough Fire players attacking and Mac has to go 1 b 4!!!

  • Now the Fire know what they need to become a contender for the top for next season, just several quality players short.
    Are the Fire a better team than Houston, probably marginally yes,
    but not last night. Although Anibaba allegedly has a ton of talent,
    he still makes mental mistakes, seemingly out of position and probably responsible for the most goals surrendered than any other player.
    Hopefully, he'll improve next year, if not dump him.
    I always preferred Gargan over him anyway, just feel that he lacks the smarts to be a top defender.
    At least we'll won't need a total rebuild for next year, but it's obvious that Fernandez isn't prime time.
    Hopefully, this doesn't sound like a Cubs fan " Wait til next year."

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    Also, the first Houston goal that was scored from Bruin, Anibaba slipped on his man and Pause didn't step up to cover Bruin to clear the ball out of the box.

  • that was a tough one to watch. sometimes watching mls feels like watching high school soccer. though there are moments of fantastic play, there are also moments where i just can't fathom these players being professionals at the level of mls. the passing can just be atrocious.

    as for the fire, they aren't that far away, but they could use maybe 2 players that are significant, DP level improvements over what is currently in place. i think sherjill ended up being a "nice" and useful player, while flaco was mostly mediocre. that's just not what we should be asking for when discussing DPs, in my opinion. now that we've made the playoffs and proven to have a solid core, it's time for ownership to open up the wallet and bring in some top notch talent. and it'd also be wise for the players and coaches to look in the mirror and figure out why they played like Toronto for the final month of the season.

  • I just can't come away from that season and be anything but frustrated. I even slept on it last night and I'm still pissed today. After all the rebuilding the team did over the past three years (and even, most spectacularly, in the past six months), all the hard work we put in to climb nearly to the top, only to throw it all away in record time, should be seen as nothing less than an epic failure. It wasn't so much *that* we lost last night (and tied DC Saturday) but *how*. It was the most pathetic effort I've seen from this team all year. And to think, in our first playoff game in three years!

    @smiley, I don't think luck had anything to do with it. We were awful from the first minute. With regard to the passing quality, @Drew said it well: "...I just can't fathom these players being professionals..." It was absolutely embarrassing. The finishing was nonexistent. The defending and goalkeeping was laughable. I don't understand why Johnson seems to look like one of the best keepers in the world for six months, then he'll go three weeks as if he has never played the position before. If the ball is above his head he is at a complete loss of how to deal with it.

    Finally, most of my ire last night was directed at Fernandez. He seemed so promising those first two games for us. Since then he's been a lazy, lousy loser. He puts in minimal effort, accomplishes nothing, yet still starts. He is constantly trying to play cute little passes that have a success rate approaching 0%. I remember Blanco doing lost of backheels and flicks as well, but Blanco would do some while also completing a majority of his passes. All Fernandez does is give away the ball. Why Klopas didn't take him out in the first half for Alex I don't know. I'd be happy to never see him play for us again.

    I know there were a lot of things to be happy about this season, but frankly, the goal is to win MLS Cup, or get as close as possible. A regular season is only successful insofar as it helps you reach that goal.

    I wish we had another game this season solely so I could go out there and yell at them some more. That was simply disgraceful.

  • In reply to manyou07:

    Yes, Fernandez didn't quite replace Pappa as the organization and fans were hoping. I'm not going to say it all would have been different had Pappa stayed, but you never know. He at least brought some offensive prowess at times. Hopefullly Fernandez is done with the Fire. Could it be that he just lost his confidence? Another mystery...how does he play for Uruguay and then struggle like that at the MLS level?

  • In reply to manyou07:

    i'm starting to think SJ is going to be one of those players that just doesn't have the mental make-up to come up big in big games. look at the olympic qualifying blunder and then last night when he just looked like he had no confidence in himself from the start. i think it's a real concern.

  • i'll be curious to see Guillermos season average ratings for the players. i have serious doubts that Fernandez will be better than 5.0

    every player is going to have a stinker once in a while, but they should balance out with very good matches as well.

    for a DP, you have to be better than average

  • one more thing that was baffling. why take pause out before pardo? pardo just recovering from injury, having played 90 min a few days before, and wasn't exactly having a great game in the first half to begin with (no one was)

    pardo was no way going to go the full 90 - so why not pull him with the first sub, that way you have pause in there capable of going the full 90 if necessary? (say the Fire tie it up or even take the lead after half, instead of going down 2-0)

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Maybe Klopas wanted Pardo's dead ball skills and at least an inkling of scoring ability?

  • In reply to Drew:

    Bingo...he was looking for any semblance of offense.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    should have subbed in Paladini and Alex at the half. Paladini's set piece work was as good as Pardo's when he was in there.

  • In reply to ManOn TheFire:

    I would have preferred Alex and Oduro at the half.

  • The Chicago Fire and Vancouver Whitecaps are the only team in MLS without a double digit scorer. Goals by committee don't work in the long term; it is all smoke and mirrors. A proven goal scorer is a must and a replacement for Pappa is definitely a need; Fernandez isn't the answer. Pardo has another year left with the Fire and they should consider giving Victor Pineda a shot; he is the future for this team. Seeing him playing in the friendlies against Santos Laguna and Aston Villa shows signs that he has potential.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Correction: The Chicago Fire and the Vancouver Whitecaps are the only team in the MLS playoffs without a double digit scorer.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    i do think rolfe would have scored 10+ had he been with the team all year. but i do agree with your overall point. as i think nearly all of us do.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    The only problem is that as soon as an MLS player shows scoring capability, the league sells that player to Europe. As long as that trend continues we can expect mediocre scoring, unless your team is a league favorite.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Not that I disagree with your sentiment about Victor but he didn't play in the Aston Villa friendly because he was away with the U.S. U-20s...

    Seems to be one of the top players in that current pool and one would hope given the way he's played in the Reserves of late that his debut will happen early next year... he'll be 20 by then and a first team player for nearly three years... Time to take the shackles off the kid...

  • In reply to seaside:

    I think he'll definitely get some first team minutes next season.

  • nyarko had quite a bit of mental errors. i remember once they inbounded the ball and he wasnt even looking/paying attention. the one that really stood out was at the end of the game in extra time down 2-1 they pushed sean johnson forward into the box but nyarko was hanging out at midfield! the whole point of bringing the goalkeeper into the opposing box is to have more attackers and to score the tie. Who cares if houston would have scored another at that point and made it 3-1! we needed everyone in the box for that last free kick!

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    Nyarko makes too many little mental mistakes. He covers them up with dangerous runs on the wing from time to time. Finishing is his biggest weakness... really frustrating because getting behind the defense is one of his strengths. Argh.

    SMac and Rolfe can't do much without a creative midfielder. To pin not scoring more than 10 goals a year is not their fault when there is hardly any delivery at all or somebody who can consistently pull the strings for the attack.

  • In reply to waam:

    Disagree on Nyarko.....he's been their most consistent player for two seasons now.

    Agree on the the need for a creative midfielder who can provide service. Preferably one without family/personal issues to attend to...

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I'm just not big on Patrick. He's been here for a long time now, and he's not that old either. How many times have we seen him dribbling the ball dangerously into the box from the corner or from the wing to never pick out the right pass. Those are the mistakes I am talking about. He gets into so many small spaces and is always there with the ball at the right time and right place, most likely because he's actually got the vision to get there and know how to be in the right spaces when they matter, yet... where are all of the assists and goals? 8 assists is OK, not great. For somebody who creates as many chances for himself as Nyarko, he should have much more assists, and definitely much more goals. I agree he's been the most consistent player we've had for the last couple years, 3 years really, but that doesn't mean much with this club at this time. We need a consistently great player. Not just a consistently good role player to win cups.

  • In reply to waam:

    I'm tempted to second you on that waam, and yet, sometimes Patrick displays some incredible skills. Maybe I'm just still over-excited by that goal he had last weekend. But it WAS a thing of beauty. In my gut, I feel as though he's improving and may be about to attain the next level, becoming a real star in the MLS (hopefully not to depart for Europe). Would be a real drag to see the FIre let him go and have him haunt us from some other MLS side. Yes we still DO need that great scorer, the "finisher" we're currently missing. But I think we keep Patrick to feed and play off that finisher and, hopefully, learn from him.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    or a coke habit for that matter.

  • Anibaba got destroyed by Brad Davis most of the night. That said, I'm not sure Gargan would've done much better.

    Pardo's def lost a step in the last year. 6 week injury nothwithstanding, he's not the player he was when he came over in 2011.

    Target scorer needed. Playmaker needed. Friedrich re-signing needed.

    And I totally agree with GR, Nyarko was easily the most consistent, solid player on the team.

  • So who is gone for next season? I can't remember what their contract situations are, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Bone, Franco, Gargan, Jumper, Kinney, Nolly, Thompson, Videira, and Walls all at least considered for cutting or trading. Bone, Franco, Gargan, Nolly, and Thompson all likely have fairly sizable contracts. I have no idea how much Kinney showed this year when he finally got healthy. He, Jumper, and Walls are all likely pretty inexpensive, and it just depends on how their development is going.

    Understand that I'm not advocating for the release of any of these players. I'm just saying that their place on the team will be evaluated (as will all contracts, but these more than others) and I wouldn't be surprised not to see these guys back next year (though I would be surprised to see Gargan AND Kinney gone).

  • In reply to Fuegofan:

    We'll be dissecting this over the next few weeks. Bone has a sizable salary but his Generation Adidas status exempts him from counting against the cap. Gargan should remain for depth since most feel he is a better right back option than Anibaba at this point anyway. Kinney looked okay when I saw him on the field but he still has a ways to go to get back. I think Jumper and Walls are worth keeping and priced right.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    We need to go get a guy who can start at either fullback position immediately.

  • In reply to ManOn TheFire:

    I don't have any issue with starting Segares.

  • It's now been two years since Steven Kinney has appeared in a competitive match... I have to think being away for that amount of time at the age he's at is not a good thing... It would have been wrong of the Fire to cut him with the injury woes he's experienced but I don't believe he'll be part of the team going forward.

    The rest...

    Bone - No longer GA...high salary counts against the budget...prime candidate for Re-Entry.

    Gargan - I get the sense Klopas just doesn't like him. Maybe part of the switch from him to Anibaba was about getting the youngster more minutes with Berry/Friedrich as starters but Jalil looked out of sorts on the right down the stretch... Would have been nice to see Gargan be given chances there when Anibaba was poor... I'm not sure if he has another year or not, I'd like to see him stay but he's good enough to be starting somewhere in this league and I doubt he'll want to sit on the bench another year behind an unnatural right back.

    Franco - Adios... Was worth the risk and had things gone a little differently might have scored a big goal at some point. Guy was injured for the playoff game after playing like 10 minutes the Saturday before... Can't rely on someone that frail in this league.

    Nolly -- Well that didn't work out as planned... Tornaghi came in and won the backup job in preseason even though Nolly was supposed to be the veteran voice of reason. Costs too much for a guy that doesn't play... At this point, third GK spot should just go to a young draftee as long as Sean and Paolo are both still around.

    Thompson -- Wells might be worth keeping around if you can negotiate down his contract... Didn't see a ton from him but he wasn't bad either. He left Colorado because he wanted more playing time. He's not a starter in this team, so you have to wonder if he'll want to stay. If he does and you can keep him at a reasonable price, it's worth it.

    Videira - I'm apathetic. I don't hate him like some do and I don't love him. He's just kind of there... can be a good defensive sub at times. Not a starter. Would probably be a star in Division 2.

    Paladini -- I think he had a pretty damn good year. If he's willing to be a reserve, I want him around. Reliable off the bench, did well for the most part when he had to step in for Pardo/Pause in the last few months. Bleeds for the badge, loves the city and is a great fan friendly player. Absolutely someone to keep around if he's willing to stay in the role.

    Jumper/Walls - Saw bits and pieces of Hunter earlier on in the season. Probably still a project but hopefully someone that can be reliable as a center back in the future and to step in on the left for the 2-3 games Sega is injured/suspended... Left back is a position the Fire will need to think about as Gonzalo just hit 30 so if Hunter isn't looking like the answer there then the team needs to try to find someone that is.

    Walls -- Saw him in a few reserve games and didn't look good in the friendlies I saw. He's cheap though and a converted right back after playing midfield in college. Worth keeping around if no better options can be found by the end of preseason. Could see him being a last cut leading into 2013 MLS campaign. Proud that he's slowed down the tweeting.


    Fernandez -- I'm not all pitchfork and torch over Flaco like some. I think he's a decent player and did have some bad games but can still be effective for this team. He's under contract another year so could be used as trade bait if you can swap him for someone to fill a position of need. If not, maybe with a full preseason under his belt, things will be different.

    Oduro -- Dom will continue to collect a paycheck in this league as long as he remains fast. He's someone that can be a sometimes starter in MLS but he's not going to be a regular in the lineup of any competitive team. If he's willing to play the sub role, one in which he's most effective because of his speed, then keep him. If not, see if you can get something for him.

    Gibbs -- If Friedrich is back then there is no reason to keep Cory around. Unfortunate injury again this year and give his past, combined with age and salary, you just can't throw that much money at the guy.

    Pardo - I expect he'll be back but would hope the Fire could find a way to hide some of his salary by getting rid of Percovich and making Pardo a player/assistant ala what DC and LA have done the last few years. with the likes of Berhalter and Wolff.

    Friedrich - Absolutely get him back. Should be priority number one.

    Loaned out players -- I don't expect to see Robayo, Puppo or Grazzini ever wear the Fire shirt again. I do think there's a chance Orr Barouch could come back but given the fact that he wants playing time to stay in Israel's plans, if he's not going to get it, I don't see him being happy with the Fire.

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    In reply to seaside:

    Great analysis. I think I agree with much of it. After looking at this reserve list, its not terrible. This is good talent to have on the bench in MLS, however, one thing lacking. Other than Dom, I don't see another impact sub. I have grown to like Dom much better in this role, and its one that with the right pieces, he could still score 10 goals a year easily off the bench with his million chances at the end of the game when we are looking for a goal. Even if he doesn't make the most of all his chances, I like the pressure Dom puts on opposing defenses.

  • In reply to seaside:

    Pretty much right on.

    Pardo has one more year on his contract and I wouldn't hold my breath on Barouch coming back though.

    We'll see if Bone graduates from GA this season since graduation from the program is based on some mysterious criteria of games/minutes played that has never really been explained satisfactorily.

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    In reply to seaside:

    What about Logan Pause? I think it's time to say goodbye. I'd like to see Paladini in the XI a lot more in 2013.

  • In reply to ManOn TheFire:

    Not going to happen.

  • I'm generally pretty much in agreement with your assessments, especially regarding Friedrich. I mainly wanted to note that I believe Steven Kinney did play in a reserve match or two late this season.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    that he did. I'm just not sure if he'll ever be near the same player we saw two years ago. with that much time between first team games and full, intense training sessions, he's at best become an unknown quantity again...I just don't think he'll be back.

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