Fire 2 DC United 2 - recap and ratings

The Fire aren't playing horribly. That being said they're not exactly playing well either. It's somewhere in between and probably good enough to earn draws, which is exactly what they've done over the last three matches. The New York game was an improvement over the outing in Portland where they were probably fortunate to get a point. This 2-2 stalemate against DC raises some legitimate concerns while highlighting some positives at the same time.

On the negative side, the Fire played much too passively in the first half against a DC United side that struggled mightily in the offensive third over their first two games of the season. The lack of push back and pressure allowed DC to control the pace and get forward without having to worry about defending a Fire attack that was all too comfortable waiting to counter or connect on a long ball over the top. The Fire did however score first even if DC did hold an advantage from the run of play. One disturbing fact is that despite not pushing the attack, the Fire allowed DC United five shots on goal during the first forty-five minutes. That's two more than they had as a team through the first 180 competitive minutes of the season against Columbus and Toronto FC.

Of further worry is the continued lack of success in appropriately defending set piece situations. Both of DC's scores came directly from dead ball situations. The Fire wall collapsed in allowing Fabian Espindola a clear look at goal after an obvious fake by Nick Deleon which tied the match only eight minutes after the Fire took the lead. A loose ball scrum after a corner kick once again resulted in a score when Perry Kitchen pounced on another failed clearance in the 73rd minute. After a fairly solid defensive effort against New York, this one was nothing in particular to be proud of considering the opposition.

On the bright side, Harry Shipp continues to impress with delivery from corner kicks and vision from the run of play. His set piece skill alone should be enough to keep him in the starting eleven when the squad is fully fit. Quincy Amarikwa once again showed why he's a better option than the club's designated player and Patrick Nyarko bounced back to show his value after two less than stellar performances to start the season. The Fire have shown that they can create some chances even with Mike Magee still looking to find his top form and that's a good sign.

Getting a point on the road is probably not a bad result but a full three points against a struggling club like DC is something that sure playoff teams manage to collect. Chicago will have a chance to show that there is some progress being made next weekend when they face the Philadelphia Union at home. Draws may be acceptable on the road but winning at home against your direct conference competitors is what the good teams do.

Player ratings

GK Sean Johnson (6) - Six saves with quality stops in the 16th and 19th minutes kept DC off the scoreboard for the time being. A huge denial against Deleon in stoppage time denied DC of a possible home win. Both DC goals from set piece scrambles had little to do with the goalkeeper.

D Greg Cochrane (5) - Played a fair game but not as effective as he was against New York. DC was able to collect numerous uncontested crosses into the box from the Fire's left side much too often. Was whistled for a foul just outside of the box against Eddie Johnson in the 34th minute which led to the free kick goal. The contact appeared to be slight at best.

D Bakary Soumare (6) - Probably the Fire's best overall defender on the day with double digit clearances (10) again.

D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (5) - Scored the Fire's first goal on a header in the 37th. Also lost Kitchen on DC's second goal.

D Matt Watson (5) - Very active getting forward and trying to aid in the attack. Set up the Fire's first goal by earning a corner kick with a run into the penalty area. DC enjoyed far too much uncontested possession in the first half however.

M Jeff Larentowicz (5) - The Fire's opponent won the possession battle again (52-48). DC's midfield had been anemic up until this point and the Fire made it all too easy for them in this game with little pressure. Larentowicz is better with a central partner and he needs to step up a notch if the Fire defense is to improve.

M Alex (5) - Largely invisible for most of the match. Sat back too far and didn't get involved offensively which allowed DC to control the game in the first half. He's had a few moments but the Fire need more from this spot.

M Benji Joya (5) - Continues to look out of place on the outside with few touches on the ball throughout his 56 minutes on the pitch. Joya will be better utilized as a central midfielder when Nyarko and Duka are available.

M Harry Shipp (6) - Looks to be more comfortable as a wide player with each passing game although he'd never played there until three games ago. His dead ball skill, technical ability, and vision on the ball make him dangerous despite shortcomings defensively on the outside. Not only did he provide an assist from a corner kick for a second consecutive game but he provided several near miss passes that could have led to goals.

F Mike Magee (5) - Still seems a half step behind his 2013 form which is understandable considering his lack of training with the team during preseason and his injury to start this season. A badly taken free kick in the 76th from a dangerous position should ensure that Shipp presides over dead balls from here on out.

F QuincyAmarikwa (6) - He was largely absent for the first sixty minutes but Nyarko's insertion into the match got him involved and he produced when given the opportunity. Had an excellent "turn and shoot" in the 66th that forced Hamid into a difficult save. Finished his best chance in fine fashion to give the Fire a draw. He's clearly distinguished himself as a better option than Anangono.

M Patrick Nyarko (6) - His entry into the match in the 56th minute for Joya brought another dimension to the Fire attack. With Shipp and Joya on the outside the Fire are missing a wide player who can beat defenders off the dribble and provide a cross. Nyarko did exactly that with a textbook nutmeg of left back Cristian leading to Amarikwa's goal. After two awful outings, the Fire will need Nyarko on form for the offense to operate as it should.

F Juan Luis Anangono (5) - Entered the match for Alex in the 80th minute. Didn't do much to distinguish himself for those ten minutes.

F Chris Rolfe (5) - Subbed in for Amarikwa in the 89th. Only got one touch in as the game wound down.

Filed under: 2014 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • What's with Duka, would rather see him start over Alex,
    we need more spark and dynamics out of the offense than
    has been the case, great to see Nyarko return to form.
    Was dismayed with the offensive passivity in the first half,
    doesn't help if we're somewhat shaky on defense when the offense
    doesn't put any pressure on the opposition, a sure prescription for failure.
    Shipp could end up Rookie of the year, probably so far he has been the most consistent player on the team.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    Duka is still recovering from the high hamstring issue that's kept him out of the last two games. He trained this past week but they must have felt he wasn't ready yet.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    I agree we'll be much more dynamic when Duka gets back. Magee stole the show last season, but I think he was the biggest surprise and a great addition. His first couple games this season weren't great but I think he'll be an improvement over Joya or Alex.

  • Big Red had over 50 successful passes; twice as many as most of his teammates. If it wasn't for him and Watson (with 40 successful passes), we'd have hardly any possession at all. Both deserved higher ratings (than 5) in my opinion.

    I also wouldn't give someone who was largely invisible a rating as high as 5.

    Great that Amarikwa scored a goal, but he was tackled and lost the ball way too much (17 times). He may be better than Anangono, but that's not saying much.

  • In reply to mcnessa:

    Larentowicz is the teams best passer in terms of attempts and percentage of completion by nature of his position but there isn't enough being done with the ball on his end or his team mates to get forward aggressively. Watson was engaged and getting forward and perhaps deserved a tick higher.

    Fives are generally "just okay" with some ups and downs if you go by the ratings explanation I try to use as a guide.

    Thanks for the input! The ratings are still highly subjective. ;)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    A word on the ratings. I think it's excellent you have a ratings guide so we can see what the ratings mean. A little FC fan input here: I think it'd be much more interesting if the rating system gave you more wiggle room. It'd frankly be more interesting if there were more 3's and 8's handed out, which are almost nil based on the current system - and less 5's. It's almost too easy to get a 5, and almost impossible to get anything below a 4 or above a 7. Maybe smoothing out the curve a bit to give you more room to make subtle assessments and a higher range of ratings. Just some thoughts from the peanut gallery...

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    Or go to a 1-5 the outliers essentially never happen.

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    Thanks for the input. There have been some 3's, 7's, and 8's issued over the last 4's rare but they have been doled out from time to time.

    The propensity for 5's sort of reflects where the Fire have been over that time period though. Not terrible but not quite good either. It's something to consider.

  • Yeah, it is a good point by Tweaky - does seem a little pointless to have a 10-point scale if every player gets either a 5 or a 6 every game.

    On the other hand you do make a good point - almost every player on the team has essentially been mediocre for the past 3-4 seasons. Ugh.

  • In reply to manyou07:

    If Robbie Keane or Jermaine Defoe were part of this club, chances are you'd see more 7's and a few less 5's and 6's than you're accustomed to seeing. ;)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    True, but that would require Keane money. ;)

  • In reply to Pablo Chicago:

    They have played three games and haven't won any. Any rating above two is generous.

  • I'm watching this NYRB-Chivas USA game on UniMas. The color commentator keeps calling him "Christo" Stoichkov and talked about Thierry Henry becoming the face of MLS after the departure of David "Beckerman". These guys are clowns even by Univision standards.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Well, not Stoichkov who is doing the color commentating, just the play-by-play guy. I'm sure Stoichkov will end up braking his leg before the end of the season. (too soon?)

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Play by play on Unimas has been consistently annoying for several seasons now.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Don't forget the mention of "Chris Rolfus." :)

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Don't forget the mention of Chris "Rolfus." :)

  • Who put that gorgeous inswinging cross in to Nyarko on the Amarikwa goal?

    That was a hell of a ball, and it deserves some credit as it left Nyarko right where he's at his best, facing up a defender on the goal line. To me there was no goal if that cross had a straighter lofting arc - it would have been to easy to head away. If I was scorekeeping, I'd give a second assist for that (not that I could given whatever rules are in place).

  • In reply to Modibo:

    That's a good point. It's in my notes and I probably should have mentioned it. I believe that ball was from Magee.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    The cross to Nyarko that led to goal came from Cochrane, not Magee.

  • In reply to jaspers:

    I've watched several times and couldn't make out clearly who it was. It seemed to be Magee but it's hard to tell from the replay.The heat maps indicate it was Magee. I'll check it out again.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Thanks, but Cochrane had pushed up field and hit left-footed cross that went deep to right.

  • In reply to jaspers:

    Watched it're right. It was Cochrane. Magee was drifting towards the middle when the cross was struck.

    Good catch!

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I like Cochrane even more now.

  • Why don't you give them two scores like Figure Skating? One for an MLS standard and another on the Fire mediocrity scale. That way we can see that they are a fair to midland team but within that range (Fire Range) they either had a bad day or a good day.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Maybe they'll start a winning streak and there will be some higher grades. ;)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    The next three weeks aren't a bad time to start.

  • So it sounds like we have a lot of central players and can't get them all out there in the middle. Are Shipp and Joya essentially best as CAMs? Creative, defensively a bit suspect, but wanting to pull the strings? And Alex falls into that as well, but he is the dean of them, so the solution is to put Joya and Shipp on the wings. And if I remember correctly, Pineda is more of a defensive midfielder who also prefers the middle. Am I right on all of this? I would be interested to hear solutions based on their various perceived skill sets.

  • In reply to Fuegofan:

    When Pineda came on against NYRB he looked lost. Touch was off and looked a step behind everyone out there. I think Shipp would do well where Magee is playing right now and Magee taking over Quincy's role. Shipp's service is top notch right now so thats why I think he is out on the wing. I would really like to see Magee back up top. We need him closer to goal right now. He lacks the work rate to go at defenders in the withdrawn role. I would really like to see a lineup like this next weekend.


    Joya had 3 matches and hasnt done enough to replace Nyarko as an every game starter. I also think he is more suited for Alex's role than out wide.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    They've got a lot of players who are best suited as central players. I think we'll eventually see that line up with Joya in place of Alex. Amarikwa will keep getting a shot as long as he's still working hard and producing when he's given the chance.

  • fb_avatar

    Shipp another rookie of the week recognition.
    I agree that Joya will replace Alex at some point but has to elevate
    the level of his play. I'd continue using Quincy as long continues
    his current form. The club needs wins, not ties. Although it's early in the season the upcoming Union game is a must win. Can't give up points to these lower level teams.

  • In reply to Ron Stone:

    Yes....I'm not sure Philadelphia is a lower level team than the Fire though. I kind of rate them as in the same boat.

    The Union have played better defensively so far this season than any of the Fire's first four opponents despite giving up some late goals.

  • A lot of these games league-wide have been one-goal differentials, many of them in stoppage time. Lots of I would label as parity on matchups.

    One thing I like about us now is that we play with much more confidence. This year, when we haven't scored first, I don't sense the oh-my-god-we-just-fell-behind-and-have-to-catch-up panicky feeling like the last 3 years. When we do score first, I didn't feel like the effort slackened. Maybe it's just me, but I think FY is instilling a good confidence in this team. That's why I still feel confident In Frank Yallop, Chapter 2. So far, so well.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    I have to agree. I don't like the results on paper, or I guess I should say the points total, but the team is much more enjoyable to watch. They don't seem like they're trudging through games. The first half against NYRB may have been better than all of last season combined.

  • Came across an interesting stats website. I'll be watching it for accuracy...

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