Another game against the Philadelphia Union produced the same result, with the same goal scorer, the same player providing the assist, the same mental lapses leading to scores, and the same lack of punch in the offensive third. The biggest difference in this match was that Chicago didn't play nearly as well as they did a week ago facing the same club. Standing at 2-7-1 it's time to throw out the old adages surrounding the "season being a long one".
The Fire are in serious danger of missing the playoffs for the third time in the last four years. There don't seem to be any real answers or quick solutions that can plug the holes until something can be done in the transfer window either. Injuries and lack of depth continue to be a concern, the attack is woefully inept, and high paid players are simply under-performing The return of Arne Friedrich, which is questionable altogether may help mitigate some of the mental lapses which continually seem to come up at the worst possible times but it won't solve the scoring issues.
The Fire created some opportunities that could have prevented a third consecutive scoreless loss but they failed to adequately pressure a Philadelphia team which was playing it's third game in seven days. Instead the Fire were forced to chase the game and looked like a tired club largely due to another careless bit of defending from a player who shouldn't be a defender. Wells Thompson's "El Diablo" nickname may be amusing but his inability to play the right back position adequately is a liability which haunted the club yet again in this match. The problem is they don't have a competent replacement without compromising other areas of the field.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - Registered 2 saves as the Union carried a whopping 3 shots on target to another victory over the Fire. He's not playing badly but when you're giving up scores with minimum chances because of defensive ineptitude it's hard to judge just how well (or not) he's playing.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Did well to clear several dangerous crosses in the first half. His corner kick clearance in the 3rd minute led to the second ball in and some hideous team defending to allow the Union's lone score. Second balls from set pieces have killed this club all season long.
D Austin Berry (5) - Chance on a header from a corner kick in the 7th minute. A failed clearance to start the second half almost led to a shot on goal but he came back to tackle the ball away and prevent the chance.
D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Defensively, the Fire weren't horrible but you have to wonder how much more organized they would be with Friedrich in his place.
D Wells Thompson (3) - Punished by Cruz on several occasions up and down the wing and two more yellow cards put the club at a huge disadvantage. Hopefully the Fire has learned the hard way that Thompson is not a defender and will refrain from using him as such when he returns from yet another suspension.
M Logan Pause (5) - The Fire midfield was nowhere near as good as they were last weekend and that may have had something to do with Kleberson being inserted into the lineup for Philadelphia. Pause was decent but the team is very limited in the center of the pitch when they have to play from behind if Pause and Larentowicz are in the middle.
M Jeff Larentowicz (5) - Another "okay" but mostly unimpressive outing. Some ups and downs with one weakly taken shot from distance to show for the day. Two other attempts failed to find the frame.
M Joel Lindpere (4) - A heinous bit of defending resulted in the Union's score as he lost McInerney in the area and inexplicably shuffled into a backward, flat footed stance to attempt defending the service. To be fair he did have a 15 minute burst in the first half in which he looked vaguely dangerous and somewhat like the player the Fire thought they were getting this year. He appears to have aged 5 years in one offseason.
M Dilly Duka (5) - A few decent corner kick services and a well taken shot from 25 yards out in the 60th minute forced MacMath into a tough save. Duka is showing a few flashes of promise after returning from injury.
F Chris Rolfe (4) - He's always been a streaky player but he's disappeared for long stretches far too often this year. Everything about his game just seems a half step off at this point.
F Patrick Nyarko (5) - The Fire's most dangerous player again in this match but without the clear cut scoring chances that he generated last week. Managed one shot one goal from a tough spot in the 18th but MacMath dove to deny it. Teams will continue to crowd and foul Nyarko until the Fire prove they can provide offense from somewhere else.
F Sherjill MacDonald (5) - Came into the match for Rolfe in the 53rd. Probably should have drawn a penalty call in the 73rd when he was fouled outside the box and then again inside the area after the referee allowed continuation.
M Alex (5) - Subbed in for Lindpere in the 76th. Managed one long distance attempt on goal.
F Quincy Amarikwa (5) - Entered the match for Duka in the 81st and contributed a late cross in the dying seconds of stoppage time that was cleared away by Soumare.
Things don't get any easier with a visit to Real Salt Lake next Saturday. After that match, one-third of the season will be gone and a loss will leave the Fire with seven points to show for it.