Not this time.
The Fire dug too big a hole against an opponent that was too good to blow a lead and the club's nine game unbeaten run in all competitions has come to an end. One loss to Sporting Kansas City shouldn't be overblown as a harbinger of doom that signals the undoing of every positive step taken over the last several weeks but there are warning signs that shouldn't be ignored.
The most glaring problem is the continued lack of discipline and inability to defend second balls on set pieces. Once again the Fire fell behind early because of that issue and in this instance they weren't able to recover. Benny Feilhaber found a seam near the top of the box after Kei Kamara was able to step in front of Bakary Soumare to deflect the ball in his direction. The shot was well taken but this type of occurrence has happened all too often this year to chalk it up as just a well placed attempt.
The second area of concern surrounds the level of play in the second half. The energy and effort of attackers to maintain pushing for an equalizer dropped dramatically when Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko were subbed out for Sherjill MacDonald and Joel Lindpere. Forward Mike Magee, who was named to the MLS All-Star team earlier in the day addressed the lack of urgency with the some choice words during a post game interview. Sporting Kansas City slowed the pace of the game down to a crawl in the second half but the Fire seemed to play into their hands with the insertion of MacDonald and Lindpere. Perhaps Maicon Santos would have been a better choice to pair with Magee if a change needed to be made.
Either way, Sporting deserves credit for coming into Toyota Park and earning a victory by jumping out early. The Fire learned they still have work to do.
GK Paolo Tornaghi (5) - Caught a bit flat footed on Zusi's "cross" that ended up in the back of the net but otherwise he was okay although he didn't register one save. KC had 11 attempts and only two were on frame. They scored on both. Check out his post game comments here.
D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Gave up way too much time and cushion to Zusi on the left side of the penalty area enabling the most dangerous player on the opposition to float a mishit cross into the net past Tornaghi.
D Bakary Soumare (5) - The partnership in the middle is still a work in progress but some of the issues on set piece defending starts in the middle with opposition being able to get to way too many balls in the penalty area. Passing out of the back also needs to improve at some point.
D Austin Berry (5) - There were some good moments - like consecutive blocked shots in the 59th minute but there are still too many shaky moments as well. The back line still needs to tighten up. Catch his post game comments at the Fire Confidential Facebook page.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - Picked up a yellow for a bit of a phantom foul and will miss the next match in Vancouver. Decent day against KC's dangerous outside attackers.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - May have still been suffering from the tight hamstring a bit since he didn't appear as explosive as he usually is. Came out of the match in the 71st and that brought the attack to a screeching halt with little creativity on the pitch.
M Jeff Larentowicz (5) - The Fire's midfield was simply outplayed in the second half. Unable to maintain possession and provide much of a link going forward - this is more a reflection of a team effort than any individual lack of performance. The first half showed some bite, but the second was toothless. Headed the ball forward that led to Magee's goal.
M Alex (4) - Really provided little other than several turnovers during the first 45 minutes and was quickly shown the bench at the half.
M Dilly Duka (5) - Active during the first half but disappeared in the second as the Fire found it difficult to regain possession.
F Chris Rolfe (6) - I thought he played reasonably well in the first half which makes the move for MacDonald in the 61st even more perplexing. Almost scored in the 10th with a shot after a loose ball came to him from a corner but Nielsen came up big to deny him. Almost beat Nielsen again in the 18th when a pass from Duka sent him in 1v1 only to have the goalkeeper get a finger on the shot to deflect it wide for a corner kick.
F Mike Magee (6) - Scored his 5th goal for the Fire in league play tying him for the league lead with Marco Di Vaio. Visibly frustrated on the pitch during the second half and his post game comments didn't hide that. His calm finish to get the Fire back into the match displayed his class and distaste for losing showed why many think he should be wearing the arm band.
F Sherjill MacDonald (4) - Entered the match for Rolfe in the 61st and contributed 2 offsides calls and a pass to no one in the 67th.
M Joel Lindpere (4) - Subbed in for Nyarko in the 71st. Only real highlight was a pass to Duka in the 87th that set up a half chance. Made the Fire easy for KC to defend down the stretch with immobility.
M Daniel Paladini (4) - Bringing in Paladini for Alex to start the second half was the right move but the red card was well deserved. An unnecessary, ugly tackle from behind will take him out of the mix in Vancouver.
Fire Confidential Podcast
Catch the latest episode of the Fire Confidential Podcast right here or on the right rail. We're talking about this loss, the transfer window, and some guy named Forlan. Will the Fire make a significant move this July?
Reserves in action
The Fire Reserves are back on the Toyota Park practice field this Monday at 10am against the New York Red Bulls.
A mid week friendly against Club America where we're likely to see more of those reserves.