The Fire were able to win their last match of the 2014 season and send Logan Pause into retirement with a victory. Florent Sinama-Pongolle's 91st minute goal provided the difference in what was only the Fire's fourth home victory this year. The result of a match between two clubs eliminated from playoff competition was inconsequential as it relates to the standings but it did provide a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.
Pause jumped the ad boards and teammates embraced him wearing the "LP 12" armbands as the seconds wound down on his playing career. "My first reaction was to sprint as fast as I could to get to Flo, so a well deserved win, and I'm really, really proud of the guys in that locker room," said Pause after the match.
After a less than enthusiastic first half that featured Sean Johnson being forced into making seven saves, the Fire were fortunate to trail by only one. A refocused effort in the final forty-five minutes was triggered by the insertion of Grant Ward and the Fire were able to send Pause and the announced crowd of 18,776 home happy for one of the few times this season.
Now the rebuilding process begins with many of the players currently on the roster likely not returning for 2015. Frank Yallop said after the match that he's got a pretty good idea of which players will be back as the Fire will close out post season training by this coming Friday. The 2104 season is over but Yallop's work is just beginning.
GK Sean Johnson (7) - Eight saves with a handful coming against legitimate scoring chances. Johnson kept the score line from being embarrassing at the half and gave the team the opportunity to turn it around in the second half.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Segares wasn't the worst of the bunch but the Fire's back line was consistently exposed in the first half.
D Bakary Soumare (5) - A comically bad failed clearancee in the 34th led to a clear chance for Cummings that was denied by Johnson. The second half was much better with Houston only registering one shot on target.
D Jeff Larentowicz (5) - Converted the penalty kick and settled things down in the second but there's that first half.
D Lovel Palmer (5) - Fell down in the 10th leading to a clear look for Cummings. Got lost on the play leading to back to back saves in the 34th.
M Sanna Nyassi (4) - Started the match and played 54 minutes but was mostly invisible for all of it.
M Alex (5) - Mixed bag. A giveaway in the 63rd led to a counter, a shot in the 13th earned a corner, and moved to left back in the 62nd.
M Matt Watson (5) - Lost Cummings on the corner kick which resulted in the Houston goal. Much better in the second as the Fire actually had 62% possession over the last 45.
M Logan Pause (6) - A little extra for the effort. His playing days may be over but he'll be around for a while.
F Harry Shipp (5) - Corner kick service was somewhat better than it has been recently.
F Quincy Amarikwa (5) - Effort and activity there as always but the tendency to play with head down and hold onto the ball too long persists.
F Florent Sinama-Pongolle (6) - Subbed in for Nyassi in the 54th and eventually scored the game winner. There were some lowlights from set pieces, like the awful free kick in the 76th.
M Grant Ward (7) - Entered the match in the 62nd for Segares and changed the game. Earned a penalty kick in the 65th when he was tripped by Deric and provided the assist on the game winning goal with a solid cross.
M Chris Ritter (6) - Replaced Pause with 12 minutes left in the match. His half volley in the 88th hit the crossbar.
Three days of post season training next week before calling it a wrap on 2014.