This match felt eerily similar to Wednesday's night 0-0 stalemate against Vancouver. Maybe it was because the Fire trotted out the exact same line-up that trudged through that contest. Or maybe it was because the flow of the match featured the same characteristics of the Vancouver game: close possession numbers, few real chances for either side, and uninspired play in the middle of the pitch. Maybe it was because after an incredible 13 draws in 21 starts, Fire matches are starting to run together.
While they're well on their way to surpassing their own dubious record for ties in a season, the Fire is watching the 2014 season continue to slip away into another failed campaign. While the most hopeful of fans can point to a close pack in the Eastern Conference it's impossible to ignore that the home side has only amassed three wins and we're into the month of August. The Fire would almost need to run the table to qualify for a playoff spot.
By running the table, I don't mean 13 consecutive draws, although that probably wouldn't surprise anyone.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - Four saves on the night and a couple were quality denials. A kick save in the 53rd on Speas shot from 18 yards out and a point blank stop on Finlay in the 61st were impressive.
D Lovel Palmer (5) - Crosses were off target when he did attempt them. Some decent combination play in the second half. Got turned around by Higuain on the Crew score.
D Jeff Larentowicz (6) - The Fire's best defender on the night. Just missed clearing the ball that led to the Crew goal to start the second half but strong on the middle otherwise. Tried to contribute offensively on set pieces.
D Patrick Ianni (5) - A decent game other than muffing an attempt to clear the ball on the Columbus score. Larentowicz will probably have a new partner for the next match.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Played fair enough but Finlay did threaten after getting by him once or twice in the first half.
M Chris Ritter (5) - He's not out there to create anything but he should be able to keep the ball moving in a positive direction while playing in the "holding" role. He was able to do that sporadically.
M Matt Watson (5) - Yallop seemed to be content with playing conservatively in the same manner that he did against the Whitecaps. The same workmanlike center midfield pairing unsurprisingly provided the same bland performance that they did three nights ago.
M Grant Ward (6) - Active getting forward although he did catch something of a break in the 36th minute when his cross attempt hit Tyson Wahl in the hand while inside the area to give the Fire a rather cheap penalty kick attempt.
M Alex (5) - Provided a few close calls with dangerous crosses in the first half. Per usual, disappeared in the second before being subbed out in the 63rd.
F Mike Magee (5) - Perhaps inspired by actually scoring a goal from the spot in the 37th he was somewhat more involved than he has been in weeks. That involvement is still well below his 2013 form. Just missed the far post with a shot in the 74th.
F Quincy Amarikwa (5) - He'll always put in the effort and did create a half chance or two for teammates. Missed spotting a wide open Magee in the 60th minute and elected to shoot from distance instead. The attempt was easily blocked.
M Harry Shipp (5) - Yallop chose to sit his best playmaker again citing a rest for the rookie's tired legs. Entered the match for Ward in the 57th. A little better movement from the Fire when he did get involved.
M Razvan Cocis (5) - Came in for Alex in the 63rd and started off at left mid before switching sides with Shipp in the 68th. In good position for a late game winner as Magee's cross just missed getting to him in stoppage time. Took an attempt from 24 yards in the 90th minute that sailed high.
M Logan Pause (5) - His insertion for Ritter in the 81st seemed to signal the flag for a draw. One would have to wonder why both Bakary Soumare and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado are both in the 18 ahead of someone like Benji J0ya.
Jones saga continues
Frank Yallop did not discount the possibility that Jermaine Jones could still end up in Chicago by telling reporters after the match that a substantial offer was made on Friday and the club still had not heard an official response from the midfielder's camp. “He has an offer. It’s not officially turned down because we haven’t heard anything back so we’re still waiting. It was a big offer, Andrew [Hauptman] stepped up and put out a good contract offer. He’s thinking about it and we’ll find out in the next couple of days,” said Yallop.
Yallop also told reporters that Jones is subject to the MLS allocation rule. That is technically the case since Jones does not have a contract at the moment but it is expected that MLS will invoke the DP of "certain threshold" rule if/when Jones accepts an offer.
Whether or not Jones decides to come to Chicago could affect other moves that Yallop has planned. The Fire are close to adding an Argentine forward who has played in France's Ligue 1 but would need to shuffle some things in order to fit both he and Jones into the roster. A trade within the league to clear significant space would probably be necessary.