Fire 2 Union 1 - recap and ratings

The Fire got themselves back into playoff contention in what amounted to a "must-win" situation against a club that had beaten them twice this season. Chicago is now six points behind Philadelphia with two games in hand and five points behind fifth place Houston for the final playoff spot. The Fire, Revolution, and Union are likely to be the challengers for the last post season berth if things hold to form.

Every match over the next several weeks will feature playoff implications with Montreal, New England, Sporting KC, and Houston on the horizon. That's not even mentioning Wednesday's US Open Cup semi-final. The Fire aren't the same club that they were in the first two months of the season and Union defender Sheanon Williams explained the difference beyond Mike Magee by saying, "They had a little bit more heart. The last few times we played them, they settled for losing. Definitely with the new people they brought, they're a different team. They're not the same team that we beat twice."

Magee has changed that attitude not only on the pitch but off the field as well. "My mindset it trying to change the culture and try to get in the habit of trying to win games," said Magee after the match. There are still areas that need to be addressed but they should be able to make a run at one of the Eastern Conference playoff spots despite the hole that they dug for themselves early on. If Magee can maintain his goal scoring form and the outside wing players (Nyarko, Lindpere, Duka) continue to produce they'll make it interesting.

Player ratings

GK Sean Johnson (6) - A welcome return from the Gold Cup with four saves and a few in spectacular signature variety. A big stop on LeToux in the 54th  and another to deny Okugo's header in the 65th gave the club a chance to earn the victory.

D Gonzalo Segares (6) - The Fire's backline was composed and steady for the first 40 minutes of the first half. The last 5 and the first fifteen of the second were an adventure. Segares was solid for most of the night with Philadelphia switching LeToux away from his side. The only misstep came in the 61st when LeToux's free kick found Sheanon Williams' head, bounced off of Segares, back off Williams, and off Segares again into the net.

D Austin Berry (6) - Berry had to be big with the Union serving 32 open play crosses, collecting 9 corner kicks, and several free kicks in dangerous areas. The official stats have him down for 15 clearances. He had to play big in this one and he that he did.

D Bakary Soumare (5) - A few ups and downs but did contribute 10 clearances of his own.

D Jalil Anibaba (5) - Played well in spots but was caught too high and out of position on a couple of instances leading to Philadelphia attacks. A dangerous played in the 72nd necessitated that Soumare recover defensively to deny LeToux's cross.

M Jeff Larentowicz (6) - The pairing with Alex worked very well through most of the first half but stalled in the second as the Union challenged for an equalizer. Also played well defensively late in the match.

M Alex (5) - Started off well but trailed off as the Union began to control possession late in the first half. Subbed out in the 74th with the scored tied at 1-1.

M Patrick Nyarko (7) - The effort and hustle is a constant for Nyarko and he's now showing an ability to finish. He scored his career-high tying 4th goal on a clinical touch in the 9th to give the Fire the lead. He also created the game winner by taking the ball from Leo Fernandes in the 75th and once again found Magee racing toward goal. He's got a knack as a playmaker that few in MLS possess.

M Joel Lindpere (6) - Perhaps the competition for playing time has raised his game. Lindpere delivered another perfect cross for Nyarko in the 9th to put the Union on their heels and give the Fire a rare first goal.

F Chris Rolfe (5) - Not much in terms of chances but played well in combination particularly in the first half.

F Mike Magee (6) - The guy just doesn't miss open looks. Scored his league leading 14th goal in the 75th to provide the match winner. Also played a role in the first Fire score although he wasn't credited in the stat book. Whether the Fire make the playoffs or not he may be the front runner for league MVP at this point.

M Dilly Duka (6) - Entered the game for Lindpere in the 67th and immediately contributed with a good shot that was saved by MacMath in the 71st. Played Hoppenot well in stoppage time to deny him in the penalty area.

F Quincy Amarikwa (5) - Came on for Rolfe in the 67th and found Duka for his chance a few minutes later. Had a glorious chance to ice the game in stoppage time but his shot was badly taken and denied by MacMath in a 1v1 situation. Regardless of the shot, he continues to contribute off the bench.

M Daniel Paladini (5) - Subbed in for Alex in the 74th. A questionable backpass in the 92nd caused some havoc.

Notes

  • The Fire will now prepare DC United in the US Open Cup semi-finals on Wednesday. DC defeated Montreal 3-1 with Dwayne DeRosario and Perry Kitchen back in the line-up.
  • Juan Luis Anangon0 was not in the 18 and did not travel. He experienced some hamstring tightness after training on Thursday and was held out of this game. He is expected to be available on Wednesday.
  • Sherjill MacDonald did not travel for the second consecutive match as the Fire continued to pursue a loan or transfer for him. The transfer window closes August 8.

Comments

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  • Klopas should kiss Magee's feet for saving his job. It is a nice to see the other guys do their work without Pause interfering. Now, he has a good team, I hope he doesn't mess it up again.

  • Agreed

    Klopas and Leon are fortunate McGee wanted to come cause there's no way LA would have given him up.

    If the Fire get a playoff spot I think he's a shoe in for MVP if not he will finish high but maybe not win.

    Hamstring issues? That's about par for the course with the Fire. Is it minor or did they buy damaged goods ?

  • In reply to MikeRUZE:

    Appears to be minor. A little tightness after pushing it a bit in training.

  • In reply to MikeRUZE:

    You act like Magee demanded to leave. The Galaxy wanted Rogers and knew that it would take Magee to get him. They asked and he said he wanted to go home. It's a great bit of business by the FO. They got Duka and Magee for Oduro. Trade of the season by far. 2 starters for a guy that couldn't play ahead of Big Mac.

    This team always needed a forward that could score goals. We had all the other pieces to be successful in this league but were always missing this piece. Now we have that guy and hopefully the new DP will be even better than Magee right now.

  • I recall reading that McGee hearing that Rogers didn't want to go to chicago made him think how he would love to. He then went and volunteered to come to Chicago. Yes great trade, but very very lucky. Columbus did not believe Rogers would come back this year or else they wouldn't have agreed and still dragged their feet. The Fire absolutely woulda has to settle for allocation money, a supplemental pick, or lesser player had McGee not volunteered. If you think MLS would'nt have forced Chicagos hand to allow the first openly gay athlete to come to MLS you haven't paid attention to MLS. Btw how did the sounders get Dempsey was it their turn ?

  • In reply to MikeRUZE:

    Yep, Mike covered that in the pod with Guillermo and I. Stepped up to come to Chicago once he knew RR wanted to go to LA.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Jeff, didn't he say that Arena asked him first, though?

  • In reply to MikeRUZE:

    Guillermo and Jeff had McGee on their podcast and it sounds like he was approached by Arena to see if he would be interested in moving. I read a quote from Arena saying essentially the same thing.

    But, yeah, who knows what would have happened if Mike had said, "no."

    My sense is that even if this wasn't his top choice, the guy is such a pro that even if he was forced to move to DC United or Chivas or any other team "against his will" he would still play his heart out.

    McGee is top class and a consummate professional. No wonder Mackie started to pout when Mike stepped in--they are polar opposites.

  • In reply to MikeRUZE:

    My understanding is that Dempsey did not fall under the allocation process because even though he is an USMNT player, he is a DP signing. Guillermo?

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Yes....that's MLS' story.

    The move was made possible by renegotiating a deal with Shalrie Joseph to get him under the DP threshold thereby giving them another DP spot to add Dempsey. That was done even though previous incarnations of the rule apparently stated that once a player is signed as a DP, the tag will stay with them.

    Ah, transparency.....

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    Magee and Rolfe are smart attacking players, but history suggests that they can't consistently be that main holding striker.

  • A few interesting links today.....

    Grant Wahl has written an excellent article on how the Dempsey deal went down........

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/soccer/news/20130805/clint-dempsey-seattle-sounders-mls/

    MLS is paying the $9 mill transfer fee.

    And Sports Business Journal wonders if this signals a new era of spending in MLS.....

    http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Issues/2013/08/05/Franchises/Sounders.aspx?app_data=%257B%2522pi%2522%253A%252238048_1375720067_1559490332%2522%252C%2522pt%2522%253A%2522twitter%2522%257D

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Interesting quote from Wahl's article:

    "Toronto (which is working on its own Designated Player deals) accepted that it was better for the league if Dempsey were playing in a U.S. city"

    I can imagine that will piss off the already beleaguered TFC faithful even more--unless, of course, they sign someone better than Dempsey.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    I heard on FS news that Toronto already have DP's they are trying to sign, my guess is that they are probably going to receive some assistance from MLS on the moves they are trying to make.

  • In reply to john:

    A forward named Maximiliano Urruti is supposedly the main target. That's a long way from Diego Forlan.

  • The question is will the league do the same for the Fire or other teams under similar circumstances?
    If not, the league lacks credibility and nothing more than a whore house for favored owners.
    Don't think Dempsey is worth what Seattle is paying him anyway,
    always thought he was somewhat over rated, wouldn't trade Magee
    for him. He never had a MLS season remotely close to Magee's this year.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    That's an interesting question that I'd love to hear Garber answer.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    We would have to put a bid out on a known quality player with a high salary demand for that to happen. They're probably paying the transfer fee based on the assumed revenue the player would bring to MLS and based on the team paying a high salary to the player. We don't go after those type players so there's no way to know. There is favoritism involved but those favored teams spend a lot of money to help the league. If Andrew opened his wallet we might be receiving some of that favoritism.

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    We have had our fair share of criticism from the rest of the league guys. People outside of Chicago still think we are one of the favored clubs that MLS will pull strings for.

  • Reading that article made me wish Chicago had more ambition. AH has got to be more ambitious. I want Chicago to return to being the beast of the east.

  • In reply to waamsy:

    Personally, I think that if the Fire fail to win the USOC they risk becoming irrelevant, a has been, considering what's going on in the Pacific NW in particular. The Crew and Fire really put the Midwest at the forefront in the late 90s - early oughts, but are falling behind the Coasts, and, God forbid, places like KC. I know DC is terrible this year, but with their new ownership and determination to get a stadium done, they look like they're in for some positive change soon. What will the Fire have to show for the 5 years from 2009 - 2014? Not even thinking of the next 5 years...

  • Are we ever going to see Anangono play?

  • In reply to john:

    He's should be available for the USOC game and the Montreal game this weekend. If he plays it will be as a sub.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Cue the fireworks.

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