Another defensive mistake cost them points at home but the Fire didn't seem too broken up about this one. Chris Ritter's errant pass led to a 74th minute game tying goal and a draw against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
A shift to a formation that included dual holding midfielders and the return of Gonzalo Segares to the starting line up resulted in the team's best defensive effort in some time. The Fire did well to limit LA chances, kept attackers in front of them, and didn't allow the free looks and wide gaps that have plagued the back line and midfield all season.
Without Mike Magee and Patrick Nyarko, Yallop played it a little more conservatively which combined with the 90 degree temperatures in the middle of the afternoon made for some dull moments. Galaxy captain Robbie Keane made it clear that he isn't a fan of afternoon games during the summer after the match. "“I don’t know who makes these (f#$%#!&) stupid decisions. Play a (f#$%#!&) game at three o’clock in the afternoon. Who wants to watch that crap?," Keane said after the match.
Winning at home is important but considering the circumstances this result seemed like a fair and somewhat encouraging result. There wasn't much to look at offensively as the Fire failed to score from the run of play for the third consecutive match but there were some signs of life defensively.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - Didn't get the clean sheet and didn't get a whole lot of action either. The Galaxy only had five shot attempts and the goal was the only one of those five on target.
D Lovel Palmer (6) - Very active game after missing the last match. Involved on both ends, particularly in the first half. May have been the Fire's best player in the first 45. Subbed out in the 85th minute.
D Bakary Soumare (6) - Back in the eleven after missing the last three games. Did well to limit opportunities for LA attackers and stayed home for the most part with the back line keeping its shape better than it has all season. There are those occasional long blasts to nowhere which are still perplexing.
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (6) - Keane had very few touches in dangerous areas and that was a good thing. The Fire had their first choice back line together for the first time since round 2 and they responded with their best defensive game of the season.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - It may not be a coincidence that the back line was more organized and composed than it has been all season and Segares was back on the left side. Good on both ends throughout although he couldn't get to Ritter's badly timed pass to prevent the LA score. Catch video of his comments here.
M Jeff Larentowicz (6) - With the aid of a second holding midfielder the captain had more control of the middle of the pitch and LA didn't have the wide, gaping holes for attackers to run through that we've seen over the last few months. Possession was even closer with the Galaxy holding a 54-46 edge. Converted the spot kick in Magee's absence.
M Chris Ritter (5) - Didn't do badly overall in his first MLS regular season start but that critical error in the 74th minute resulted in the lone LA goal. Did exactly what he was asked to do, take up space and help deny passing lanes. Unspectacular but...that pass.
M Dilly Duka (5) - Still appears to be working back into fitness. A few ill advised shots and a need to be quicker to make a decision on passes makes you wonder if he'll ever live up to potential.
M Grant Ward (6) - Tailed off in the second half but showed flashes of why the technical staff is looking to keep him past June with several quality crosses and good combination play in the first half.
F Harry Shipp (5) - Played in a more centrally advanced role as the underneath forward rather than the outside position that he's been in all season. Provided a handful of nice touches in combination but wasn't as influential as you would have expected with an opportunity to play closer to goal.
F Quincy Amarikwa (6) - His work rate alone continues to distinguish him from match to match. Earned the PK by drawing a foul (that may have been outside the box) but constantly looking for contact and going to ground is going to give him a reputation as a diver. Also made the play by picking up a loose ball and charging at goal.
M Benji Joya (5) - Subbed in for Duka in the 71st. An active last few minutes included a shot on goal and an another attempt that would have been spectacular had it not been blocked to end the match.
M Juan Luis Anangono (5) - Came in for Amarikwa in the 71st. A few decent touches and a few typically JLA head scratchers.
D Matt Watson (5) - A substitute for Palmer in the 85th minute.
A Wednesday night road match in Colorado which won't be easy. The Rapids trounced Houston 3-0 at home this weekend.