After a resounding defeat at the hands of the Seattle Sounders in the US Open Cup semi-final on Wednesday night, the Fire were hoping to make a move upward in the Eastern Conference standings against the bottom dwellers in the table. Chicago came into the match only two points out of the fifth spot in the East and clinging to the hope that a good late season run could salvage something out of the 2014 campaign.
The Fire responded to the 6-0 loss three days ago with another uninspired thud. A 1-0 loss to Frank Klopas and the Montreal Impact keeps the Fire in ninth place and cements the reality that they're just not good enough to seriously challenge for post season contention. Neither side was particularly good on the night and it seemed that a scoreless draw was in the works for most of the match until Marco Di Vaio put away his only chance in the 84th minute.
While continuing to give up possession to just about every opponent, in almost any circumstance, the Fire don't create enough opportunities to beat teams and can't finish the chances they do muster. Another defensive shake up was probably the result of a short turnaround with 3 games in 7 days but there doesn't seem to be a winning combination for Frank Yallop no matter who is shuffled into the line up.
The Fire are still mathematically alive due to the parity and outright lack of quality in the East but a realistic and honest look at where the club is now offers no inclination that Chicago deserves or is even capable of qualifying for a playoff position. This loss won't end the charade of playoff contention with eleven games to go but the last two games indicate the Fire can't beat the good teams, or the bad.
Ironically, on a dreary day in Montreal, it took Frank Klopas' new team to make that abundantly clear.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - Wasn't bombarded in the last few minute by attackers with free looks after his defenders quit, like they did in Seattle. Di Vaio got one good look and put it away. Johnson did come up with a big stop on Romero in the 60th minute to keep the game scoreless.
D Greg Cochrane (5) - Had moderate success getting forward and didn't get beat as often as he had before Gonzalo Segares returned to reclaim the left back spot.
D Patrick Ianni (5) - Back in the line up for this game and wasn't awful but did get sucked in and took himself out of the play on Di Vaio's goal.
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (5) - Like Ianni, he also took himself out of the play on Di Vaio's goal by charging over to help, leaving the center of the box open. Adequate for the remainder of the match.
D Lovel Palmer (5) - One of the few Fire players that showed some energy in the attack and was probably the Fire's best threat in the first half. Caught out of position on more than occasion by Eric Miller. Where was he on Di Vaio's goal?
M Jeff Larentowicz (5) - Back in midfield after Wednesday night's horror show. Almost scored the equalizer in stoppage time.
M Matt Watson (4) - As the Fire continue to chase and give up possession there's just not much coming out of the middle of the pitch. Passing (by the team as a whole) was atrocious.
M Alex (4) - The Fire's wide players were completely absent in the this game.
M Harry Shipp (4) - Maybe it's tired legs or the rookie wall but even his corner kick service isn't what it used to be earlier in the season.
F Razvan Cocis (4) - With Amarikwa on the bench, Yallop tried a different look with Cocis up higher on the pitch. It didn't work. He also showed his lack of pace late in the game, getting beat by Miller to set up the winning goal.
F Mike Magee (4) - He didn't play on Wednesday so one assume he was fresh and ready to go. Had an opportunity to get further up the pitch where he's needed with Amarikwa sitting but continues to frustrate himself and probably his teammates and coaching staff. Spent a good portion of his last few minutes on the pitch on the opposite side of midfield where the right back should be. In a telling example of how far he's fallen, he was taken off with 4 minutes left and the Fire trailing by one.
F Quincy Amarikwa (4) - Came on for Alex in the 60th minute. Contributed a couple of give aways immediately upon entering.
M Sanna Nyassi (6) - Came into the match in the 73rd minute and provided some spark. Earned two corner kicks.
M Grant Ward (5) - Subbed in for Magee in the 86th.
A road game next Saturday in Toronto.
Yallop told reporters after the match that the Fire are continuing to wait on the outcome of negotiations between Jermaine Jones and MLS. "I think we're pretty close, but until it's signed, you don't know," said Yallop.
At this point, the Jones saga is almost as tiring as the Fire's first 23 games this season.