The Fire locker room was predictably subdued on Wednesday night following the loss to Houston leading to their elimination from post-season competition and a shot at MLS Cup. The club was left looking for answers after a promising run of good form disappeared in the final month of the season only to be replaced by inconsistency featuring two baffling losses and a lost opportunity to avoid the knock out round on the last day of the regular season. The Fire had hoped to regain that form but never did after allowing the opponent to score first one time too many.
Here are some of the comments made post game following the disappointing loss.
Fernandez looking forward to 2013
Alvaro Fernandez came to the Fire on the last day of the transfer window with high expectations as a Designated Player and a replacement on the outside for the departing Marco Pappa. Fernandez started decently enough, meshing with the Fire's style of play while contributing to the dynamic that was developing between newly acquired Sherjill MacDonald and the rest of the team but the last month of the season was anything but pretty. Numerous misfires at seemingly open goals, turnovers in the offensive third, and a glut of intercepted passes not so coincidentally accompanied the Fire's dip in form down the stretch but the Uruguayan National team member still feels positively about his contribution overall.
"It was a sad end but we had a good year. At the end of the season we couldn't get it done but we gave it maximum effort," said Fernandez after the match on Wednesday night. He's looking forward to a full training camp with the club and believes that this group can improve on the 2012 campaign next season. "2012 is over but we can start new next year with everyone. We have some great players and I think with a little more time together we can have a better team next season. We've got some young players and some players with experience and I think it's a complete team," said Fernandez optimistically.
"El Flaco", who continued to play well in the defensive end despite his struggles on the other side of the pitch, expects to be back in 2013 but does realize there is room for improvement. "I have a contract here for next season. I think next year will be better. I think I played pretty well. The last few games weren't the best but I always gave everything I had for the team. It's important to remember we had a great season and made it to the playoffs."
Berry caps possible ROTY
Austin Berry should be named MLS Rookie of the Year when the award is announced later this month. The player that was called the "most MLS ready pick in the draft" by some experts enjoyed an excellent first season and hopes to build on is success going into 2013. "It was good," said Berry of his first year as a pro. "I had an opprotunity to get a bunch of games under my belt and get a learning experience. It's unfortunate how ended but I think it was a good year," he continued.
Berry, like the rest of his teammates found explaining away what occurred over the last month of the season a bit difficult but offered up a slightly different take than just simple bad luck working against the team. "Some results didn't go our way. You're not going to win every game in soccer and unfortunately maybe we were a little bit lazy in a couple of games but still we accomplished the goal of getting into the playoffs which we set at the beginning of the year. We just have to take this as a learning experience and take it into next year," said Berry after the match.
Fire coaches and players talked about the importance of coming out strong in the second half after trailing by only one goal but the L word did come up again when trying to explain the circumstances surrounding the killer second Houston score in the 46th minute. "Just a lucky deflection or block that fell to one of their guys as we were kind of stepping forward and they played a ball in behind. Will Bruin had a good finish, that's unlucky but that being said we had a lot of opportunities and created some chances," said Berry.
Anibaba's "slip" costly
Jalil Anibaba also talked about the club's struggles during the season's final month and said that the club prepared for every match in the same manner they did when they were making a run for the top of the table. "Sometimes things don't go your way and I think in the last couple of games that's what happened to us. I don't think our approach was any different. Our preparation wasn't any different," explained Anibaba.
Anibaba, a natural center back has had some adventuresome moments while transitioning to right back over the last two seasons and his mark scored the first goal of the game when Will Bruin converted an uncontested header into a 1-0 Houston lead. "The ball got whipped in and I slipped. The guy put the ball in that was it. Just a slip," said the second year defender.
He too remains optimistic about the Fire's chances going into 2013 despite the disapponiting playoff loss. "This club has improved ten-fold. Our group is solid, we have an amazing core and I'm honored to be a part of it. I'm looking forward to building here and developing and continuing to add to this club because there's no better place to play," he said.
Still to come.....
- Arne Friedrich talks about his future with the club
- Partick Nyarko reflects on the season
- Player Ratings for the Houston match
- 2012 cumulative ratings for the season