Three points, a win on turf, and a clean sheet.
All in one night.
The Fire are within four points of the fourth and fifth place teams in the Eastern Conference at the mathematical half way point in their season. An early Quincy Amarikwa goal was enough to get by a New England Revolution side that has lost its fifth consecutive league game and was bounced out of USOC play on Wednesday night.
That's not to say the Revolution didn't have some chances. They held the ball for 62% of the play and controlled the flow of the game from about the 30th minute onward. Sean Johnson played the hero and kept the home team off the scoreboard preserving a desperately needed win for the Fire. Was there anyone who didn't think, "there it goes again" when a penalty kick was whistled in the 85th minute?
The Fire pressured early in hopes of capturing a quick lead and the strategy worked. Fatigue appeared to set in as the match wore on but one goal, big time goalkeeping, and the Rev's ineptitude in the final third was enough to rekindle some hope for the second half of the season.
At 3-4-10, there's a big hole to climb out of but with the transfer window open and the club looking to make some additions, there's finally a win to build on.
GK Sean Johnson (8) - A total of seven saves and an absolutely top notch penalty kick save in the 85th minute should get Johnson mentioned in every "of the week" goalkeeping consideration this Monday. He's had little help from his backline this year but this effort was exemplary.
D Lovel Palmer (6) - A couple of long distance efforts came close. Also better defensively with several good tackles/stops and not caught out of position as he has been prone to be from time to time this season.
D Bakary Soumare (7) - Stepped up when he had to and was a shot blocking machine for most of the night. Helped apply pressure at the appropriate times and made his presence felt in the penalty area. Big game for Soumare.
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (6) - With Soumare gambling and pressuring up higher, Hurtado stayed home and there weren't many clear on chances in the box for New England despite registering 24 shots. Whatever chances they did have, Johnson took care of but the back line finally helped registered a clean sheet and no big errors were made this time.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) - This may have been down a tick for the penalty call, which was pretty weak, but he did reach out and put an arm on Bengston giving the referee a reason to blow the whistle. Other than that play, Segares was pretty solid for the rest of the match on both ends.
M Jeff Larentowicz (6) - Key early as the Fire midfield applied pressure and kept New England off kilter for the first 25-30 minutes of the match. Tough to blame Larentowicz for the continual lack of possession which may be just as responsible for the team's defensive woes as the blatant errors in the back have been. He was key in setting the tempo early. Provided an excellent through ball in the 74th that almost sprang Fondy.
M Matt Watson (5) - This is the position where the Fire need to improve in order to increase possession and help the back line. Watson wasn't bad but he wasn't influential either.
M Harry Shipp (5) - He did manage to get several shots on net and one forced Shuttleworth into a diving save in the 14th. With his tendency to pinch in and float away from the outside the Fire are often left exposed if the fullback ventures into the attacking third. This happened at least twice in this game but Segares was able to track back and no damage was done. New England missed chances from the circumstances as well.
M Alex (5) - A 40th minute cross almost found Amarikwa but there wasn't much more but chasing for the rest of the night.
F Mike Magee (5) - Hit Amarikwa on a pass in the 3rd minute that led to the goal but that was it for the game. Spent most of his time underneath and too deep to really get forward much.
F Quincy Amarikwa (6) - Out-muscled Farrell to the ball in the 3rd minute and gave the Fire the lead they needed to make their game plan work. Pressure early and continuous work in the first half saw him leave in the 71st apparently out of gas.
F Matt Fondy (5) - Did some nice things to help kill the clock late in the game after replacing Amarikwa but the shot in the 78th after a steal from AJ Soares was woefully weak. Has to do better than that in a 1v1 with the keeper and no defender within 5 yards.
M Chris Ritter (5) - See Watson above, who he replaced in the 76th. He's been serviceable but the Fire need an upgrade at the second center mid spot. Called for a foul in a dangerous area that set up a good free kick look.
M Grant Ward (5) - Entered the match for Alex in the 88th. Not enough time to show much.
A home game against another team they need to beat. The Philadelphia Union come to Toyota Park next Saturday.