Chivas USA 3 Fire 2 - recap and ratings

The most disappointing thing about the Fire's season opening 3-2 loss to Chivas USA is not the loss itself but the apparent continuation of issues that doomed the club in 2013. The game featured all of the negative aspects and concerns experienced over the course of last season all wrapped up into one ninety minute exercise in futility.

The offense in the first half looked quite similar to the pre-Magee version of last season with no creative spark and general listlessness all around. The second half brought back the recurring defensive mental lapses, sloppy marking, and lack of consistent possession that was all too frequent last year. The furious comeback only to be thwarted by a careless late game set piece goal also smacked of vintage 2013 letdowns. Throw in a substitution designed to shut down and play for a draw and you've got all the bases covered.

Oddly enough Mike Magee didn't make an appearance in the match and supporters can take some solace in the hope that he would have made a significant difference but it was not to be. After Magee stated on Friday that he was fit and ready to go 90 if needed, Frank Yallop explained post match that the 2013 MVP had a relapse of the hamstring issue that has hampered him of late and the player was probably only available for about ten minutes today. If that was the case and the technical staff was not looking to push him, why dress him at all and risk further injury for ten minutes when Harry Shipp was fit and fully available?

Shipp didn't dress but newly acquired Greg Cochrane was in the 18 presumably behind the thinking that there was no fullback available on the bench in case of an injury to either Gonzalo Segares or Lovel Palmer. This was a day marred by a "poor" effort where things fell apart rather quickly in the second half before the insertion of Quincy Amarikwa and Benji Joya appeared to spark the team.

The first match of the season shouldn't lead to sweeping generalities and it's important to remember that there's a long way to go but losses of this nature are the types of setbacks that end up being discussed as regrets come October.

It's eerily all too familiar.

Player ratings 

GK Sean Johnson (6) - Kept the Fire in the match in the first half with a quality denial of Rosales' free kick in the 32nd. Another big stop on Pelletieri's header in the 53rd kept the score momentarily scoreless. Torres would score on a PK three minutes after that and another followed three more minutes later. There's not much a keeper can do against free looks.

D Lovel Palmer (5) - A decent outing but far too many uncontested crosses were allowed from both sides of the pitch. Chivas USA delivered 29 crosses in open play. Probably the Fire's best defender on the day.

D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (5) - The Fire's centerback pairing looked shaky in clearing multiple crosses in the first half although nothing came of them. Defenders with the experience of Hurtado and Soumare need to be more commanding in the area.

D Bakary Soumare (4) - Whiffed on a ball that led directly to the play which resulted in the penalty kick. Being beaten by Burling on the late game winner was obvious. Soumare's got to be better for the Fire to seriously challenge for a playoff spot.

D Gonzalo Segares (4) - The take down of Torres in the penalty area may have been a little soft but making even the slightest of contact in that situation will force the referee to make the call in favor of the attacker.

M Jeff Larentowicz (5) - Chivas had way too much of the ball, holding a 55-45 advantage in possession. Larentowicz wasn't paricularly bad but there was little link between the back line and the attackers for positive movement going forward, particularly in the first half.

M Dilly Duka (5) - An up and down day for Duka who was involved and actively pushing in some instances but faded in the second half. Beaten by Barrera for the cross leading to the second Chivas goal.

M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Wasn't involved much offensively as the Fire struggled through the first forty five minutes. Passing was not up to his standard. Subbed out in the 63rd for Joya.

M Alex (5) - The Fire will need more from the central midfield particularly when/if Magee is not on the pitch and Alex didn't hurt but he didn't distinguish himself either. Started a nice combination play with Duka that led to a chance for Rolfe in the 45th and his shot led to Joya's goal.

M Chris Rolfe (5) - With a chance to distinguish himself after a sub par 2013 Rolfe didn't do much to suggest that this season will be better. He played a good field game but his touch failed him in the 45th when a one time shot would have tested Kennedy if on frame. Ran out of gas in the 75th and replaced by Pause.

F Juan Luis Anangono (4) - Really showed very little in terms of being the solution to the Fire's long standing problem at the #9 position. To be fair he didn't receive much service but the one good opportunity he did get he booted over the end line in the 26th.

M Benji Joya (6) - Scored his first MLS goal with his first touch in the league. Active and aggressive moving forward he also attempted another in the 83rd that was handled by Kennedy.

F Quincy Amarikwa (7) - Replaced Anangono in the 57th and provided the Fire an opportunity to leave with a point. A spectacularly placed bending shot from beyond the top of the penalty area. He and Joya changed the pace of the match and got the Fire back into it.

M Logan Pause (5) - Brought in to slow the match down and apparently play for the draw on the road after Rolfe apparently cramped up in the 75th. That would typically be a sound approach on the road but the Fire defense collapsed late on a set piece....again.

Next Up

It doesn't get any easier with a trip to Portland looming. The Timbers did not play well in a draw against Philadelphia in their home opener so the Fire have to hope that they're catching Portland at less than full throttle early in the season.



Filed under: 2014 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • 100% spot on.

  • The only way you would know which Frank was at the helm is that Yallop traded for an older, more expensive yet equally ineffective back line, all while blaming his salary cap problems on his predecessors.

  • I cringed when Pause was brought in for Rolfe, thought they were going for the tie instead of the win. I was hoping for Magee, it makes no sense to dress him if he isn't fit to play. Cochrane would have been an improvement over what they had on the field.
    They really have to get together if they expect any points in Portland.
    The team's first must win game of the season and they blow it, the reason its a must win is that you have to beat the teams that are basically weaker than you are to remain in contention.
    I don't particularly agree with all the negative comments about Alex, thought he played a better second half, same for Duka who didn't appear to do much in the first half.(who did) Still trying to figure out what Rolfe contributed while he played, Nyarko had a very weak game, way off his usual standard. Definite room for improvement, thought the flow of play slowed after Pause was brought in, hopefully this will be a learning experience both for the team and coach, basically agreed with what you said above.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    Pretty much agree with you on all this, including the negative comments about Alex. Didn't think he was as bad as all that. Duka had some good moments.

    I love that Joya and Amarikwa scored, but the mistakes in the back just broke us. Baky manned up in his post-game interview and said that he was responsible for the last goal - glad he took responsibility, but, well, you also gotta learn to keep your head in the game.

  • We now have two center backs that enjoy kicking the ball as high and as far as they can. Bakary is so unpredictable back there that it's scary. You never know what he is going to do. Randomly falling down while running is inexcusable. Big red couldn't have played slower. Alex enjoyed running as fast as he could until he lost the ball. Nyarko looked exhausted after 60 minutes. I've never seen a game where the ball was above 15 ft in the air for more than half of it.

    We just lost to Chivas USA...........

  • Couldn't do much worse in the SBI Power Rankings. But losing to the one team lower than you will do it.
    So much for shoring up the D. Is there any way we can do what Philly did to us and dump Soumare on some other team. He is hopeless.
    I hope this isn't another season where 3 points turn to 1 and 1 point turns to 0.

  • In reply to Doug:

    Power rankings have always been sort of a useless exercise for me.
    The most accurate power ranking is the table, that's why I've never done them.

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    I hate to say it but Anangano is no different than Mac was and I don't think I need to see any more games from him to know that he's not going to be the player we hoped for last year. Nothing about him looks improved and I think Quincy just showed he can score from distance just as well if needed.

    Also hate to say it but Logan looks old out there. Sega is no spring chicken either. I just don't understand the choices made on the back line at all. I clearly don't understand this salary cap nonsense but when I look at teams like New York with MASSIVE names on the roster and wonder how in the hell can we be limited with an underpaid MVP and still have to dump a rookie of the year and another young CB in Jalil?

    And Chris...One Touch! He's my favorite player and even I'm loosing faith. Sure it's only one game but it was Chivas. That's not good juju.

  • If you missed the debut episode of Fire Weekly on Saturday you can download it here.....

    The next episode should be interesting.

  • The first half reminded me of AYSO games, kick the ball, doesn't matter where, just kick the ball.
    Logan, Sega, and Rolfe are losing it, just a step slower, passes just a touch off, probably will not be on the 2015 Fire edition and if they are it will be in back up roles. Just can't wait until Grant Ward comes on board, he'd crack the starting line up within weeks.
    Are Piermayr or Gargan still available?
    Anangono is a no go, Amarikwa may not be that much of a better player than Anangono, but he's paid a lot less and is much more bang for the buck. He deserves a start, seems to be one of the most active players on the team.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    Gargan has signed with the Galaxy.

  • My player rankings:
    JLA - He is who we thought he was
    Pause - Old and in the way
    Rolfe - Lost and not found
    Soumare - Fools gold
    Segares - Good from far, far from good
    Amarikwa - Cream rises to the top (aka, best we have at the position and have been calling for his number since last summer)
    Joya - Shiny jewelry
    Shipp - set sail through the bermuda triangle
    magee - locked up stateside
    yallop - frank? is that you? halloween is over, take off the mask...

  • Thanks G! I'm happy to see that everyone seemed to see the same things I thought I saw. I think Frank Y went to work today with a better sense of the task before him. I liked his post-game comments. A more open, honest, and meaningful response than I think we were accustomed to from Frank K. I think we may have to see a shakeup of the lineup to get the starters to change their habitual style of play.

  • The latest episode of the Fire Confidential Podcast is up discussing the opening loss to Chivas USA.

  • They should play the kids in these early games while the vets get their legs. Don't understand how they can not dress Shipp. He's far more of a quality player than Rolfe or Pause. And Baky just gets lazy with his passes and positioning. He should be leading back there and not being the source of the breakdowns.

    I don't know how a guy gets to the pros that can't one time a ball played directly to his shooting foot. Kids do that in middle school, and those that take extra touches don't play forward. Come on, enough already. Very poor and disappointing performance.

  • Listening to the Ep 51 podcast last night/this morning, I'd agree that Frank might make a few tweaks, and I probably don't think he'll drag his feet on making changes to the starting 11 if they don't perform. Plus, we'll see what happens when Magee starts.

    I also agree very much on the Joya assessment.

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