A good first half showing wasn't enough to stay with one of the best home teams in MLS this season and a defensive collapse in the second stanza raises questions about the Fire's backline stability going forward. Mental lapses and individual errors marred the club's defensive performances during the nine game unbeaten run but the outstanding play of Mike Magee, Dilly Duka, Patrick Nyarko and the attackers covered some of the stench. In this match there were no set piece goof-ups or second ball carelessness but Vancouver had control of the second half from the whistle and only a fortuitous bounce or two kept the home team from scoring earlier than they did.
Kenny Miller hit the post with a shot that beat Paolo Tornaghi in the 47th minute and he almost scored again a few minutes later setting the tone for a half that featured the Fire defense playing on their heels and marking sloppily and much too lackadaisical, particularly after the first goal by Camilo in the 66th. A loss on the road against Vancouver isn't in and of itself a reason for panicked concern but the quality (or lack thereof) of play against one of the better teams in MLS combined with a loss against Sporting Kansas City at home last weekend should be a reason to consider whether or not finding immediate defensive help is just as important as landing another striker.
This game was going to be tough from the onset and few expected the Fire to come away with all three points but the defensive breakdowns in the second half are legitimate cause for concern. It's one thing to lose valiantly while battling one of the hottest teams in the league but it's another thing altogether to take steps backward when every match, goal, and point is critical to getting back into the playoff race at this point. Magee can't be expected to score in every match and there may be help on the way in the form of another striker but the defenders need to find their form quickly or the Fire will miss the playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons.
A must win match awaits when DC United visits Toyota Park next Saturday night.
GK Paolo Tornaghi (5) - A decent effort with 4 saves. A diving stop in the 63rd against Lee kept the game tied for the time being. Did well to tip the ball away from Camilo on a breakaway in the 71st but his defense let him down with some awful follow up defending. Goal kicks and distribution have been spotty.
D Jalil Anibaba (4) - You almost want to grade the defenders separately for the first half and the second. Vancouver found little room and weren't all that dangerous in the first but had all the play in the second. Anibaba was fine in the initial 45 but the entire back line fell asleep on Camilo's second goal and it's always embarrassing to get nutmegged, especially for a goal.
D Austin Berry (4) - There were some bright spots but they're overshadowed by the almost shocking gaffes that continue to either provide chances for the opposition or result in goals. Inexplicably let a cross roll through the front of the net in the 53rd which Miller almost scored on and allowed Camilo the time and space to collect himself after Tornaghi thwarted his first attempt in the 71st. Berry needs to pick his game up several notches.
D Bakary Soumare (5) - An excellent first half where he managed to break up several attacks and blocked numerous passes while even managing to get the counter attack moving forward is also devalued by what happened in the second 45. Also failed to close down on Camilo on the second score.
D Shaun Francis (4) - Beaten badly by Camilo on the first goal. Not terrible filling in for Gonzalo Segares but that highlight sticks out. He should be a competent back-up at left back.
M Jeff Larentowicz (5) - Managed two long distance shots on goal although both were mishit a touch. I thought the Fire midfield did very well in controlling the match early on but things fell apart quickly in the second.
M Alex (5) - Along with Larentowicz, Alex has stayed back deeper in defense which curtails some of his offensive ability but with the questionable lapses consistently happening in the middle of the defense the Fire need to play both central midfielders a little closer to the backline. The Fire have very little life getting forward after he subbed out in the 6oth minute and the defense breakdowns started shortly afterwards as well.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Perhaps he's still struggling with the hamstring issue but he wasn't as active as one normally expects in this game either. Beaten by Manneh to get free in the 84th before nutmegging Anibaba for the third Vancouver score. He was also uncharacteristically late to help Francis defend Camilo after a long kick by Knighton following a corner sprung him with the opportunity. Scored a consolation goal in stoppage time.
M Dilly Duka (5) - Another player with a good first half and a silent second. He was actually very good in the first half but failed to get any of his three shots on target. Some improvement with decision making (when to pass/shoot) still needs to be made.
F Chris Rolfe (5) - Took five shots with only one on goal. He was active and involved in the first (notice trend) and nearly got the Fire on the board early with a hard shot that Knighton did well to stop. Had a few other looks before being taken out in the 67th. Also in on the bad group defending that was Vancouver's first goal.
F Mike Magee (6) - Seven shots on goal with only one on target. He came very close on two occasions in the 60th and 61st minutes. Hit Rolfe with an excellent service in the 56th but the header attempt was over the net. Denied by a big Knighton save in the 89th.
M Joel Lindpere (5) - The match changed for the worse after he was subbed in for Alex in the 60th but he did provide an excellent cross in the 65th which was blocked out for a corner kick and did manage to assist on Nyarko's goal.
F Maicon Santos (4) - Came in for Duka in the 74th and killed a chance by showboating and standing still long enough in the penalty area to have his defender knock away the ball with two teammates in the box. Hit the post with a shot in stoppage time.
F Quincy Amarikwa (6) - Perhaps he's earned more time as a substitute with another good showing off the bench. After entering the match in the 67th for Rolfe he provided good passes for teammate shots in the 76th, 77th, 89th, and also involved in the lone scoring sequence for the Fire. He should be chosen ahead of MacDonald from here on out.