Fire 1 Toronto FC 1 - recap and ratings

These are the type of games where the best teams make statements. On the road, against a lesser opponent, with yet another chance to capitalize on advantageous results. That's when you expect genuine playoff contenders to make their moves. Time and again over the last two months the Fire have been presented with golden opportunities to salvage something from this season after a horrid start.

Whether it be the US Open Cup semi-final at home against the worst team in MLS or on the road with a chance to move into the 5th playoff spot, this club has invariably fallen toward the direction of pretender when given the opportunity to claim anything of note. This match was particularly important because it represented the "game in hand" advantage that was held over the closest competition. With optimism and time running short, the reality of lost opportunity and dropped points will eventually settle and catch up to the 2013 Fire.

With only seven games left in the season, each stinging result carries even more weight to it. A lackluster performance in which they played down to the level of the competition takes away even more of the  minor satisfaction gained from a decent outing in Seattle despite the loss.

Because the rest of the East is bad enough to keep them in the race, this draw doesn't signify that the Fire's season is over. Instead it signifies that they're just not good enough to capitalize on even the most advantageous of situations. The way this stretch run is shaping up they'll probably be presented with the scenario again. Win and claim a playoff spot. It may come down to the last weekend.

What are the chances they finally cash in on a gift?

Player ratings

GK Sean Johnson (6) - Only two saves but strong throughout. Distribution was even better.

D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Over committed on several occasions including being beaten by Earnshaw on Toronto's goal. His contribution offensively keeps this from being a tick lower. Played into several good sequences with Duka in the first half.

D Bakary Soumare (4) - The back line was in complete disarray for a period of time in the first half with Toronto getting plenty of space and looks at goal. Failed to get into position to clear Convey's cross which led to the goal. Played a relatively strong last 15 minutes with two key stops but the first half was poor.

D Austin Berry (5) - Managed to muster two shots although neither was on target. May have been the best of the defenders in the first half but that's not saying much.

D Jalil Anibaba (4) - Lost Convey en route to the cross which resulted in Toronto's goal. Sloppy defense continued for the remainder of the half and the Fire were fortunate more damage wasn't done as a result. Far too many needless giveaways to warrant anything higher.

M Jeff Larentowicz (5) - Provided very little offensively in the middle of the pitch as he played more of the holding role with Alex on the field. A few bad passes halted possession.  A blocked shot from distance in the 22nd that resulted in a 4th minute corner kick was the highlight of the night in the offensive third.

M Alex (5) - Another night that can best be described as just okay. The Fire need a spark in the middle and Alex has yet to really provide it in this spot. His one good look at goal in the 51st sailed over the cross bar.

M Dilly Duka (6) - The Fire's best offensive player on the night scored the only goal although it was more a result of awful goalkeeping than anything else. A good ball to Segares in the 18th resulted one of the Fire's 7 seven fruitless corner kicks. Played pretty well in combination but for some reason was subbed out in the 69th minute. An odd decision considering Nyarko was taken off 14 minutes earlier.

M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Not particularly sharp but had a moment or two in combination with Rolfe that led to some build up. Subbed out in the 55th. Like the rest of the squad seemed to be a half step off.

F Chris Rolfe (5) - Moved from forward to left mid to right mid throughout the course of the match. Showed some flashes late with an excellent through ball to Amarikwa leading to the Fire's last good chance.

F Mike Magee (5) - Didn't have any big chances. Moved into a central playmaker's role in the 78th as a result of substitutions.

F Quincy Amarikwa (5) - Came into the match in the 55th for Nyarko and provided some spark late but he failed to put away the Fire's best chance of the second half when Rolfe set him up for a good look at goal. Bendik made the big save to preserve the draw. A pass to Anangono in that spot may have resulted in a tap in.

M Daniel Paladini (5) - Entered the match in the 69th for Duka. Biggest contribution was a free kick attempt in the 92nd that sailed high of the net.

F Juan Luis Anangono (4) - Subbed into the game in the 78th for Alex. Several bad passes and a blocked shot trying to beat 3 defenders were the extent of the contribution.


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    Probably the three most creative players the Fire have are Duka, Magee, and Nyarko, both Nyarko and Magee looked somewhat out of form, but how the pulling out of Nyarko and Duka and keeping in Alex and Rolfe (though Rolfe showed some life in the latter stages of the game) makes any sense. While the players have to share in this mediocre display, when it continues game after game with the same mediocre decisions the blame points directly at management.
    After following the team from its beginnings, years ago, this is the first season I can remember that the team failed to play a complete solid game from beginning to end, even our 10 wins were fairly gruesome events with a degree of luck. I'm just astounded with the team's passivity game after game.

  • In reply to Ron Stone:

    Rolfe was easily knocked off the ball, Duka and Nyarko not so much.

  • I was surprised at how the coaching staff had to "motivate" or artificially psyche up the team during warm ups. These guys are professionals, not little kids. They will be motivated and ready to plan if they have bought into the strategy and program and feel confident with it. I don't think they know what they are supposed to be doing. When players make passes, the recipient looks surprised he got the ball. I would be curious to see what Jeff L's passing completion rate is when he is attacking or being attacked. the guy ha given the ball away more than anyone. Rolfe in the middle if the field looked very good at the end of the game giving others lead passes. That could be because the game had opened up, or it could be that he needs to be more withdrawn and play midfield type role. I say let Duka play an entire game. Let Anongono start.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Leo's always been like what the broadcast showed at halftime. They just happened to showcase it coming out of the break. That was nothing new or different than what he's always done.

  • A few telling post game quotes from Mike Magee:

    “It’s been frustrating over the last stretch of games. It feels like every game we have the inability to score two goals and the inability to get a shutout. Playoff teams get shutouts and playoff teams put teams away so we’re not doing it on either end. It’s a lot of bad feelings after games to say the least.”

    “It’s not good enough. Like I said, we score a goal and we kind of go back into our shell which has been a reoccurring theme with us. We tend to get up a goal, and we play, well and then we don’t know how to manage it. We create some chances and don’t put teams away. Like I said we are in a frustrating stretch right now but at the end of the day we are one point out of a playoff spot so we can’t keep our heads down even though that is the feeling.”

  • Its not just making the playoffs that's the problem but the day to day dismal level of play, they are not playing a decent and enjoyable game, they're boring and frustrating to watch. Big deal if they make the playoffs, its not like they're going anywhere if they manage to edge in a playoff spot. The real problem is that the playoff picture should have been close to being set at this point. There are several teams ahead of them with lesser talent but play a better brand of soccer. Making the playoffs should have been a cinch not a protracted struggle. The quality of defense is not up to playoff quality, that's the problem with Frank's offense of counter attacking which puts added strain on the defense which already makes unforced errors on a continuing basis.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    Either we are overrating our players or...

  • The defenders are trying to take angles instead of staying on their marks. The midfielders need to get back to help defend too and not all of them do it consistently. Defending is all about desire on the whole side, not just the backs.

  • A question: I thought that Bakary was a locker room nightmare last time around -- why did we go after him again? Desperation?

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    because they had a bunch of injury prone defensive players injured (which they should have planned for), let gargan go for who knows why (which is how they could have planned for it), and were left with 3 starting level players in back. so yes, desperation.

  • MLS roster freeze deadline is today at 4 cdt.

  • For once, I can say that I am happy I have something else going on Saturday evening. I can't take the frustration of watching the team muddle through another attempt to get into playoff position. I'll probably check the updates I get through the Fire app without being subjected to the full torture.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Ugh lucky you. I want to go see the fight with friends but now am stuck with these tickets for this lame team

  • Weekend picks

    Seattle 2 RSL 1
    Montreal 2 Columbus 0
    DC 0 Los Angeles 2
    New York 3 Toronto FC 1
    Phialdelphia 1 Houston 1
    Chicago 2 New England 1
    Colorado 3 FC Dallas 2
    Chivas 1 Portland 2
    San Jose 2 Vancouver 2

    record 122/260

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I won't even dare to predict scores, but I'll jump into the fray of weekend picks:

    Sea-RSL - tie
    Mtl-Clb - Montreal
    DC-LA - LA
    NY-Tor - NY
    Phi-Hou - Tie
    Chi-NE - Tie
    Col-Dal - Col
    Chv-Por - Por
    SJ-Van - Tie

    record 60-94 (I started tallying late)

  • I no longer believe it was just a horrible start. It's just a horrible season. Their chance is gone.

  • Paolo Tornaghi has received his green card and will no longer occupy an international roster spot.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Yeah! That means absolutely nothing! :)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    At least he was one of the International roster spots that actually made the game day line that the change that was promised?

  • In reply to DerSting:

    Definitely not the change I was referring to.

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