With the Fire on their way to breaking their own record for draws in a season, the sober reality that playoff hopes are all but extinguished seems to be taking hold.
"Usually, you find a ways to lose matches as a group, as a lot of coaches say, but we find ways to tie matches, when we should be winning them," said Frank Yallop after the match. "It's frustrating, but it's where we are at. I've never made excuses, and I wouldn't hide behind anything either, but we're not quite good enough. It's what we are. We need to make changes and make sure we're better moving forward for sure.” (catch his full post game press conference here)
Yet another late game break down, another case of lax marking on set piece second balls, and another missed penalty kick combined for a disappointing night against an opponent struggling to maintain playoff hopes of their own. The Fire were actually fortunate to avoid a complete melt down when referee David Gantar whistled Gilberto for a foul nullifying a 90th minute Toronto game winner. Replays showed that the play was probably officiated incorrectly.
Chicago came out on the attack in the first 15 minutes but quickly ran out of steam after taking the lead. The remainder of the match reverted into the all too familiar cavalcade of wasted chances and failure to put an opponent away. Jeff Larentowicz's missed penalty kick in the 57th minute probably would have been enough to allow the Fire to hold on, although trying and failing to hold on due to a lack of quality going forward is something that has been commonplace this season.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - Five saves with the most difficult probably coming in stoppage time on Bloom's driven shot. What looked like a bit of miscommunication between Johnson and Soumare probably should have resulted in another late game loss but instead set off an on-field verbal confrontation between the players.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Did well against the speedy Oduro for most of the night. Gilberto did get in front of him to flick the ball back to De Rosario for the tying goal however.
D Jeff Larentowicz (5) - A mixed bag for Larentowicz. Played well for most of the match but there was that missed penalty kick and he was beaten by Gilberto on the play that led to the goal that was called back and resulted in the altercation between Soumare and Johnson.
D Bakary Soumare (5) - Was fortunate not to be the goat again as the referee's decision saved another embarrassing goal. He was actually having A solid game until then.
D Lovel Palmer (6) - The Fire's man of the match scored the goal and was very effective on the other end. He did get caught ball watching, however as De Rosario was unmarked for the equalizer as Palmer and Alex looked on.
M Grant Ward (5) - Had a decent look in the 8th but sailed a shot wide. Served a nice cross in for a chance in the 10th and drew a penalty in the 56th when he was tripped in the box by Bendik.
M Razvan Cocis (4) - With Toronto controlling the ball for 70% of the game, the Fire midfield was once again ineffective in creating chances consistently and keeping the ball away from the opposition. Cocis hasn't been terrible but he also hasn't anything more than just another rather ordinary midfielder. Headed the corner kick backward leading to the tying goal.
M Matt Watson (4) - Chicago completed only 67% of their passes. Watson played the ball in that led to the penalty kick. Even if it wasn't intended for Ward it did result in a chance. Work rate and effort can't be questioned but quality isn't there.
M Alex (4) - Consistently one of the worst passers and decision makers in the starting eleven. A non factor offensively in this game as well.
F Sanna Nyassi (5) - Managed two shots but neither was on goal. Corner kick service was passable. Assisted on Palmer's goal.
F Quincy Amarikwa (6) - Clearly out of gas in the last fifteen minutes but was the Fire's only effective weapon from the run of play throughout the game.
M Harry Shipp (5) - Subbed in for Nyassi in the 69th. Did not factor in much over that period.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Entered the match for Ward in the 79th. Too often the Fire have reverted to cling and defend mode as games wind down and this was no different.
Playing for pride against DC United at Toyota Park next Saturday.