In a bitterly disappointing result for supporters and the entire organization, the Fire failed to earn an opportunity to play for a fifth US Open Cup title. A 2-0 loss to a DC United side that had not won once on the road against MLS competition all season exposed some of the reasons why the Fire are where they are right now and left searching for answers.
Once Patrick Nyarko left the match in the 36th minute with what Frank Klopas called a "head injury" the Fire seemed to lose any of the spark that they had offensively. The loss of their main playmaker disrupted the dynamic and the flow of the attack and Joel Lindpere was not able to replace what Nyarko was providing up to that point. Nyarko's absence exposed and made abundantly clear that the club is still missing a facilitator in the middle of the pitch who is capable of coordinating an attack and providing service from anywhere other than the wings. Alex is serviceable in that role but nothing more.
The second, and probably most concerning issue brought to light again in this game is the team's propensity for digging themselves into a hole by virtue of consistently allowing "soft" goals. This time it was Sean Johnson who lost a battle with Luis Silva for a relatively harmless looking ball in the air. "He got in a position where he could challenge. I probably should have just punched through it. I thought I could collect it but I think he got a good jump and there was a little bit of contact, maybe him hitting me and the ball at the same time. Credit to him. I should have punched it away," said Johnson after match. Dwayne De Rosario collected the loose ball and rounded Johnson to give DC the lead just before the half.
The visitors came out as the aggressors to start the second half and a good individual effort from Nick DeLeon to beat several Fire defenders in the 48th minute sealed the deal on a deflected shot that got past Johnson. DC was able to tighten their defense from there and the Fire had no answer until a few close calls late almost made it interesting. Austin Berry had a shot cleared off the line and against the post in the 78th and Quincy Amarikwa found himself on the end of a Lindpere cross in the 84th that was also cleared from the line.
"It's frustrating. It was the same this past weekend and this one. Not just the first one but the second one was a deflection that goes right in near post," said Gonzalo Segares. "We have to lift our heads up and get ready for Saturday because that's another important game."
The Fire can focus now on the regular season and attempting to qualify for the playoffs. At this point, it's all they've got. And for that really, the Fire have no one to blame but themselves.
- Check out Segares' comments at the Fire Confidential Facebook page
- The Fire's next opponent, Montreal defeated San Jose 1-0 in CONCACAF Champion's League play tonight
- Juan Luis Anangono made his debut playing 33 minutes
- Real Salt Lake defeated Portland 2-1 to advance to the USOC final on October 1