Sporting KC 2 Fire 0 - recap and ratings

This match seemed destined for yet another draw before Sporting Kansas City struck twice in the last ten minutes to hand the Fire their ninth defeat of the season. During this odd record-breaking trek, the Fire's 18 deadlocks easily surpasses the total of the next closest club in terms of ties (Vancouver has 13) but the nine losses are tied with DC United and New York for the fewest defeats in the Eastern Conference. The problem with that is that the meager victory total of 5 is lowest in the league. That amount is especially embarrassing considering that lame duck Chivas USA has won 8 games this season.

"As we have a lot of games this year, with our ties, we’re in every game. And it’s proved again tonight: we were right there, toe to toe and we didn’t quite get it done,” said Frank Yallop after the match. “I don’t want to make excuses—I never do—but there weren’t a lot of options to change things when I came here at the beginning of the season. But now I’ve seen the team for a year and I think we’ve coached them to their potential. It’s not quite good enough to win games, so we just need to add some quality in the right areas and I think we’ll be decent. I’m excited about the prospects of that.”

Yallop will seem to have those options available this offseason with approximately two-thirds of the roster either out of contract or in option years. The changes necessary won't be as simple as adding a player or two because quality is needed is needed in vital positions (striker, central playmaker, central defense) but the first order of business is getting through the last two games to end a frustrating 2014 season.

That end can't come soon enough.

Player ratings

GK Sean Johnson (6) - How many times this season have you have you heard someone utter, "If not for Sean Johnson the score would have been worse"? This was another of those occasions. The game remained tied at 0-0 until the 80th minute with Johnson getting enough of Feilhaber's shot in the 30th to deflect it at the post and back to him. That was the best out of his six saves on the night. There was one shaky moment in the 75th on a missed clearance however.

D Alex (5) - Played a decent game at left back, starting the sequence that led to the Fire's best chance on the night in the 22nd. Passable defensively in this match.

D Bakary Soumare (5) - No big errors and a few close tackles and blocks but Sporting had a lot of time on the ball with space with which to operate.

D Jeff Larentowicz (5) - Fire defenders didn't exactly close down the KC attack despite the scoreless first 80 minutes. Sporting had a lot of time on the ball and a decent amount of looks.

D Lovel Palmer (5) - Whistled for a foul in the box in the 12th minute but it may have been a phantom foul against Feilhaber. Luckily, Dwyer missed the net altogether in his PK attempt. Dwyer did beat him late for his header and KC's second goal.

M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Has shown flashes of getting back to form but not enough of them and not for prolonged periods yet. Nyarko mentioned at half-time that he's probably at about 80%. A good cross in the 14th was pushed wide by Amarikwa and a pass in the 22nd set up another good chance for Sinama-Pongolle.

M Matt Watson (5) - His shot in the 22nd forced Gruenebaum into a spectacular save. Decent in combination getting forward in the first half but KC had a 58-42 possession advantage overall.

M Logan Pause (5) - As pointed out during the broadcast, the Pause/Watson duo tends to sit back too far in front of the defenders and lopsided possession numbers are the result. Zusi's goal was well taken but he had plenty of time to take a touch and move forward before unleashing.

M Harry Shipp (4) - Took five corner kicks but his service isn't nearly as good as it was in the beginning of the season. Still disappears for long stretches. Had a good look on goal in the 2nd minute but waited too long to make a decision and was dispossessed. He was rarely heard from after that.

F Florent Sinama-Pongolle (4) - Had a shot on goal in the 22nd that was saved by Gruenebaum. Other than a shot that was struck wide in the 55th that was it from him. One would expect a bit more given his resume.

F Quincy Amarikwa (5) - Intercepted a pass in the 34th and created a chance but his weak shot was saved in a situation where a pass may have been a better decision. His effort and engine are admirable but the Fire will need a considerable upgrade at this position in 2015.

M Sanna Nyassi (5) - Replaced Nyarko in the 69th minute. Best moment came in the 83rd when his volley was struck just over the bar.

M Grant Ward (5) - Subbed in for Shipp in the 83rd. Didn't factor into much.

F Matt Fondy (4) - Entered the match for Alex in the 88th. Had a chance to tie the game when a headed ball fell to his feet in front of goal. His attempt was pushed directly at Gruenebaum starting the counter attack that led to Sporting's second score.

Next up

A trip to the nation's capitol next Saturday to face conference leaders DC United.


  • Sean Johnson has joined the USMNT camp ahead of a friendly against Honduras on Tuesday.
  • Robert Earnshaw and Razvan Cocis are still out with injuries.
  • Should the Fire earn one more draw they will be the first team in MLS history to have earned more points from draws than victories during the course of one season.

Filed under: 2014 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Yallop: "I don’t want to make excuses—I never do—but there weren’t a lot of options to change things when I came here at the beginning of the season."

    Sorry, Frank, but that's an excuse. This team had 49 points last season. You won't even get close to that. You've made them worse. You and Hauptman failed to bring in difference-makers and deal with the realities of improving the club.

  • Spot on Roti 2000! This whole year has been a lame excuse of a professional soccer team. First year since 1997 that I have not attended a game. Are you listening Andrew?

  • I agree completely.

    2009 11-12-9 45 pts
    2010 9-12-9 36 pts
    2011 9-9-16 43 pts
    2012 17-11-6 57 pts
    2013 14-13-7 49 pts
    2014 5-18-9 33 pts

    Sorry Yallop, YOU brought in 17 players this year. YOU set the game day roster. YOU make the substitutions. YOU train the team and set up tactics. YOU set the expecttions. You are not entirely responsible but at least have the decency to own up to your issues.

  • Yeah, it's a bit disheartening to see Yallop's comments, as if he didn't have a huge role in this year's mess. He does realize how many players he brought in and shipped out, right? I mean, c'mon man, take some responsibility and don't lay it entirely on Klopas and Co. They didn't do Yallop many favors, but he didn't do himself many favors either. This organization is constantly making itself look foolish.

  • Guys. I am positive that unless a significant amount of season ticket holders do not renew their tickets we will see pretty much the same type of team next year. HAuptman has made a ton of money on book value of the team. Until he sees that value disappear like chivas he will stock the team with out of touch managers and second tear players. As I said in a previous text I ran into an executive of the mls at a social event. I had to ask about the chicago fire. He looked at me square in the eyes and said that the entire league was embarrassed about the Fire. He said they are the only team that did not even make an attempt to sign a decent DP in years. This entire deal about jones would never had happened if HAuptman had been the high bidder. I would love to have an atmosphere like KC or Portland but with the current ownership that will never happen. Also Yallop should just keep his mouth shut he has absolutely been the most confused and ineffective manager of a pro soccer team that I have seen in my 70 years.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Can I quote you on Bigsoccer? Those words about the exec are pure gold.

  • "But now I’ve seen the team for a year and I think we’ve coached them to their potential. It’s not quite good enough to win games....."

    I wonder how much the players enjoyed hearing that coming out of their coaches mouth? I wonder how much the players enjoy hearing that they are not quite good enough week in and week out? I wonder how much the players enjoy hearing that this is as good as they are going to get?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    I don't take much exception to any of what he said. He's correct in saying that this team isn't good enough. Coming into the season they were probably only good enough to challenge for a 4th or 5th playoff spot and subtracting Mike Magee and Patrick Nyarko for large chunks of the season certainly pushes them down the ladder.

    The biggest issue with the Yallop/Bliss staff so far should be the acquisition of Hurtado and Ianni from Seattle and the failure to make the defense better as a result of that deal.

    There was turnover during the last offseason but most of the starting line up remained intact from 2013. Most of the changes were bench and smaller salary players, which is pretty typical for most MLS clubs. This coming offseason is going to be a big test for Yallop/Bliss and the club as a whole.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I agree with you G. I won't badmouth the Yallop/Bliss regime until we are fare enough into next season to truly see the fruits of their labor. But if things aren't looking up significantly at that time I expect I'll be as grouchy as anyone. Any I do not expect to be responsible for putting so much as a penny of my money behind the club until I see BIG investments from that unmentionably cheap @$$#o!* owner. If results are coming solely from a few lucky/wise moves, I'll chock that up to the fact that if you play the lottery long enough you will eventually at least get some small wins. Not one cent of my money will ever again be spent just to make Andy H richer! It's his turn to cover his bets. If he doesn't, he's no longer in any game I'm playing.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    G, I get your patience, and it's probably the right perspective in all honesty. One year isn't enough to get a real taste of what they can create, but they don't get higher than a D from me in year one (Palmer, Watson, Cochrane save the F).

    I think it's a mistake only point to the Seattle trade, as it also necessitated the Berry trade (allocation money for our best, young, inexpensive player?), and he also decided to go with Soumare as a starter from the get go. 0 for 3. “I don’t want to make excuses—I never do—but there weren’t a lot of options to change things when I came here at the beginning of the season". Sure, but we ended up digging ourselves a hole we couldn't climb of b/c of our poor defensive play ~ where your fingerprints were all over...

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    Valid point on Berry but the intention was to keep him before Magee's contract was renegotiated necessitating the move for cap space.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I don't remember the timeline exactly. I briefly went back through your archives to try to figure it out, but were the Fire completely caught off guard by the Magee contract reconstruction? I thought there was chatter that that was likely as soon as he had such a great year and MVP season. Isn't that something they'd be expected to have a good handle on?

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    They weren't completely caught off guard. There had been discussions about a new deal but Magee and his agent weren't happy with the progress thus the absence for personal reasons. The Fire weren't real happy with the timing but it wasn't totally unexpected. I wrote about the possibility in my roster recap last December.

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    Soumare had a guaranteed contract at a number that couldn't be moved. No one wanted Soumare.

    It's not always a question of ridding yourself if players. Berry was moveable at his number. I doubt Yallop liked doing that trade but that's what it was.

    He miscalculated on Hurtado/Ianni but that's basically been the only big type move he's done.

  • In reply to seaside:

    How do you know he couldn't be moved? If Ianni and his $150k salary was moved, why not Soumare, who is actually better than Ianni? And what if they ate some of his salary, packaged him with allocation $ and or an int'l roster spot or a draft pick? And even before any decision was made, he was starting in the preseason with Hurtado over Berry. To me that indicates he preferred him in the starting role from the get go. And the Berry trade, yet again, was necessitated by creating a roster with 4 CB's, 3 of who were handsomely paid, including the worst of the 4. Just a strange series of decisions, none of which I can support him on.

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    Soumare was going to be very difficult to move given his cap number and contract option for 2015. The Fire also did not have any allocation money available to sweeten any deal.

    The initial plan was to flip Ianni for something else but that didn't materialize. Berry was their most marketable commodity at the time and they needed allocation money to sign Magee's new deal so he was the one to go.
    You're correct about the starters. Right or wrong, the thought was that Soumare/Hurtado was the best combination based on form in camp.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Yeah, I think I remember that now, the idea of flipping Ianni. So he wanted to start Hurtado and Soumare (both were poor judgments), and when he traded Anibaba for too much salary and CBs, he had to trade either Ianni or Berry...but became stuck with Ianni and his $150k and was then forced to trade Berry when Magee was resigned at a higher salary. So ultimately, however you choose to see it, it was still a series bad decisions under his watch.

  • Yes you are correct, but I am sure that once we get those players the mantra coming from the clubhouse will go something like this:
    "Well, we have quality but as in every situation it takes time for the players to adapt to new surroundings and new system. We have to be patient, The wins will come. Patience will... yada, yada, yada."
    Question. How much patience/leeway are we now allowing Yallop and co. for next year, because as it stands now I am not investing in this team.
    Im not making the threat to not renew. I am simply just not renewing for next year. And I will probably not buy into this team until I see an investment by the team honcho that justifies my had earned coinage.

  • I would love to know exactly where Yallop thinks he is going to obtain all of these improved players. He has obviously given up on Shipp, Pineda, and Joya so there are no youthful candidates in the pipeline. If he had any hopes for them they should have been playing a couple months ago when it was evident that this team was going nowhere even if it slipped into the playoffs. With no youthful prospects, Yallop will no doubt be pursuing the castoffs of other teams. Lots of success in that area!! To augment those winners, he will bring in some 3rd division "stars" from Greece. And, finally, a really expensive, world famous player!! LOL

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    Yallop is playing Shipp - I don't think you can say he's given up on him. Pineda and Joya are another matter, and both of them must be looking at other options given their lack of time. Pineda especially - what is it 3 years now he's been on the roster and yet how many minutes has he gotten with the 1st team? Hello USL!

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Pineda has been starting for Indy, and he's got three goals (currently 2nd highest scorer- Kleberson leads the team with 8.) It quite possible that Indy wouldn't mind picking up an out-of-contract young player, should that be the case.

  • So still no Fire II team? Its a shame they are going to go the easy way of complying with league rules.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    They still cant run Fire I competitively, let alone a second team!

  • In reply to DerSting:

    +1 !!!!!!!

  • In reply to penapirata:

    There was some thought about their own USL team but decided on St. Louis for next year. They may revisit again after next season.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I highly doubt they are going to revisit it. It takes money to run a 2nd team and Andy has proven that he is not willing to make that investment towards something that has to deal with the 1st team.

  • Guys if anyone wants to see how the rest of the league views listen to the philladelphia union podcast. Very interesting.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Got a link?

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    And it said what exactly?

  • Millwall attacking midfielder Josh Wright is joining the Fire sometime in the next few weeks for a trial.

    His numbers don't exactly jump off the page....

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Awesome, so this is what Bliss meant when he made the "with in reason" comment.

  • A few picks for today and tomorrow.

    New England over Houston
    Portland over Real Salt Lake

  • Guys what the Philadelphia union podcast said that curtain basically blew the game against the fire. The fire in the opinion of the podcast duo is basically a USL team with an aging back line. Obviously the blunder by the Philly goalie killed the playoff chances for the union but it was felt by many backers that the DP goalie should never have been played. Unlike the fire the union is probably two offensive players away from a championship run.

  • Is Josh Wright the best they can do?
    Looks like another pig in the poke,
    same type of thinking that placed the
    Fire in their current position.
    Only going for him is that he comes in cheap,
    not very encouraging.

  • The Trib must think the Fire's season is over since they're not showing any games on the sports schedule. Nice.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    That's how relevant Andy has made this team.

  • Weekend picks

    Toronto FC and Montreal draw
    FC Dallas over Colorado
    DC over Chicago
    Sporting KC over Philadelphia
    Vancouver over San Jose
    New York over Columbus
    Los Angeles over Seattle

  • Re Josh Wright: Why get worked up over someone coming in for a trial. I think that that is a step up from signing someone sight unseen as the prior regime did.

  • Guys. The season has become SO un exciting that even the chicago confidental crew has abandoned ship. No article about the coming game or any podcasts in quite sometime. Times are so bad that I tried to give my Houston tickets away to a family that could never cover the cost of a game and they refused the tickets. Their kids love the sport but their dad would prefer to see the Uic team. WOW. As soccer by Ives said that the fire have become irrevelant.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    The Trib didn't show the game on their schedule and doesn't include the result in the list of Chicago Teams results for today. Pretty sad coverage there or lack of it.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    The lack of posts and podcasts over the last month have more to do with schedules outside of soccer than anything else. I'll be back on the old schedule soon enough and the podcast will return.

    That being said, the Fire's relevance in the Chicago sports landscape is certainly on shaky ground.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    You can chose to run a championship organization or a middling one.

    We know what choice has been made.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Apologies for the lack of involvement, all. I'm right in the heart of my varsity team's season, have had 2-3 games/week for 2 months now, and you all know how busy GR is currently with a new addition in the Rivera household.

    That said, it's been difficult to report on/podcast on much during this current run. Not much news to be had, and a lot of the same old same old in the results category.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Jeff for next Fire manager!

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    I'm definitely cheaper salary. lol

    Going for our 3rd trophy on the year this week. Treble shirts for everyone if we win!! :)

  • So am I right to say this is the worst season in club history? We're at 33 points with one game remaining.

    And we've played, what, 33 games?

    2004 the Fire had 33 points in a shorter season.

  • Guys could someone please explain to me why all the hype for pause. At best he was a middle of the road midfielder playing for a really bad owner. When I think of pause all I can focus on is passes to the goalie.
    Friday's game for the fire midfield was something to put in the history books. They must be taught to image that the sidelines are actually players and that their forwards are 10 feet tall and twice as fast as all defenders. How many over the head passes went to the forwRd line and out of the blue passes to imaginary players on the wings. Everyone has to be glad that this nightmare is almost over.

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