Looking at the final numbers after the match you'd be hard pressed to explain just how the Fire managed to drop yet another home game against an opponent that they should have been able to beat. Philadelphia came into this match missing two starters on the back line and one of the replacements hadn't played a regular season match since last August. Frank Klopas started Patrick Nyarko up top in a effort to take advantage of that match-up and the strategy worked with one big exception.
The Fire didn't finish their chances.
It sounds like a broken record at this point but the continued ineptitude in front of the net places pressure on the club to play flawlessly on the defensive end of the pitch. One small mistake or moment of weakness is magnified ten fold and that one second let down proved to be the killer in this match. Jack McInerney scored him seventh goal of the season (the Fire have tallied 6 as a team) when Sebastien LeToux took a quick restart following a seemingly harmless foul just across midfield. The Chicago defense didn't react quickly enough to mark the streaking McInerney and that was that.
The other 89 minutes and 50 seconds were essentially controlled by the Fire. Take these numbers into account:
Overall possession: 58-42 in favor of Chicago
Shots on target: 6-2 in favor of Chicago
Open play crosses: 30-10 in favor of Chicago
Total passes: 411-296 in favor of Chicago
Passing Accuracy: 81% to 73% in favor of Chicago
Unfortunately, until they can add a true number "9" or someone on the current roster magically becomes a lethal finisher overnight they're going to be trailing in the only number that matters.
This team is better than what they've shown so far but July seems like a long way off and it may be too late by then to salvage anything if things don't improve quickly.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - Only faced two shots on target. The first was a save on Casey's header in the 50th minute. The second was McInerney's goal. That was it for Philadelphia throughout the entire match.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Fed a great cross into Paladini who found Nyarko in front of the net for a shot that glanced off the right post in the 48th minute. Philadelphia's wide players had absolutely nothing going on.
D Austin Berry (6) - Steady all day against McInerney and Casey. Defensively, the Fire played well enough to win this game.
D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Actually played a very solid game....except for falling asleep for a half second in the 76th minute allowing McInerney to get in behind the defense for a 1v1 on goal after a quick restart.
D Wells Thompson (6) - Another good effort from Thompson while playing out of position. Stopped a Union chance nicely in the 71st when he blocked Hoppenot's dangerous cross.
M Logan Pause (6) - The Fire midfield dominated possession for long stretches (66% in the second half) and denied any clear looks for the opposition.
M Daniel Paladini (5) - Should have put away a loose ball opportunity in the 33rd. With a clear look at goal his shot was directly at MacMath.
M Dilly Duka (5) - His best performance in a Fire shirt to date. Good footwork got him through the defense in the 58 for a good look at goal but again his low driven shot was right at MacMath.
M Joel Lindpere (5) - Better than past performances but still not what most were expecting when the Fire acquired him this winter. Forced MacMath into a little more difficult save in the 37th when the keeper dove to deny his low far post attempt.
F Chris Rolfe (5) - Managed to register 5 shot attempts but only one was on target, a 49th minute shot that was slightly mishit and right at MacMath. Played well in combination with Nyarko but work in the final third has to be better.
F Patrick Nyarko (6) - Easily the Fire's man of the match. Involved in almost every scoring chance created by Chicago. Started the play which led to Paladini's chance in the 33rd when he broke down the defense in the box. Started the attack which led to Lindpere's shot in the 37th. Hit the post with his own shot in the 48th. Probably should have shot before Lindpere's chance. You can see Nyarko talk about the match in post game comments at the Fire Confidential Facebook page.
M Alex (5) - Came into the match for Duka in the 63rd but never really figured into much. Played in the underneath spot when he entered moving Rolfe out wide right. Moved out right while Rolfe went to the left side when Santos entered.
F Maicon Santos (5) - Came in for Lindpere in the 73rd and led a counter chance in the 78th but his through ball for Nyarko was cut off by MacMath.
F Quincy Amarikwa (6) - Subbed in for Paladini in the 84th as the Fire attempted to push for a late desperation equalizer. An obvious dive attempt for a PK was rightfully ignored in the 87th but his well struck volley in the dying moments of stoppage time forced MacMath into his best save of the night.
The Union again. This time in Philadelphia next Saturday. It will be interesting to see if Klopas stays with this line-up for that match based on the amount of chances created in this game. If MacDonald recovers from a bout with strep throat does he get back into the line up next weekend?
Stayed tuned for the next episode of the Fire Confidential Podcast where we'll discuss what happened with the Bakary Soumare trade and look at the Fire's apparent salary cap issue and lack of depth on the roster.