Earthquakes 2 Fire 1 - recap and ratings

The Fire have stumbled into the first ever 0-3 start in team history. Another slow start has thrown a wet blanket on much optimism but there were some signs of incremental improvement despite the loss. On the positive side, the Fire scored their first goal of the season and controlled much of the possession throughout the match winning that battle by a 58-margin. They also completed 78% of their passes compared to 72% for San Jose.

David Accam also made his regular season debut and had some effect although he wasn't able to create a score. Accam's presence should make the Fire more difficult for teams to defend, particularly as he gains time and fitness after suffering from a groin strain.

On the negative side, set piece defending continues to be a major area as it was last season. Two more goals from dead balls as a result of sloppy marking and some poor goalkeeping make it almost impossible to recover from on the road. There are questions about under-achieving designated players that shouldn't need to be asked even at this early stage of the season.

Losses lead to questions about quality, tactics, and another lost season. There's still a long way to go, but at 0-3 all of those questions are valid.

Player ratings

GK Sean Johnson (4) - Credited with four saves and a couple were of decent quality but the first San Jose goal was on Johnson as he came off his line and misplayed a corner kick. The second goal also probably should have been handled as the rebound was left for Harden to tap in from close range. These are the types of errors that have plagued this team for the last several seasons.

D Eric Gehrig (5) - A better outing than last week at right back but the experiment really shouldn't go past this game. Got forward a little late in the second half but was also exposed defensively again. Almost had an equalizer in the 32nd when Bingham made a big save on his header from a corner kick. The Fire have a decent right back on the roster in Palmer and he probably should stay there.

D Jeff Larentowicz (5) - Adequate at center back but the disorganization in set piece defending is alarming. Fire defenders also did enough to hamper Wondolowski from free looks for most of the night.

D Adailton (5) - Part of the disorganization on set pieces. His mark scored the goal on the second but it appeared Gehrig and Polster were the culprits on the first ball.

D Lovel Palmer (5) - Not terrible on the left side but he should be on the right. A good crossing opportunity with numbers in the box was lost late in the match when Palmer had to stop and retreat to get the ball onto his right foot.

M Matt Polster (5) - Ups and downs as a rookie with another yellow card and some reckless tackles. He does track back well and has some composure however.

M Harry Shipp (6) - Probably the best player on the field for either side. Scored the Fire's first goal of the season with a cool finish in the 30th and dangerous for most of the match. Alexi Lalas called him "too good for this team" during the broadcast.

M Michael Stephens (5) - Somewhat involved with a few dangerous crosses into the box before being subbed out in the 67th.

M Shaun Maloney (5) - Continues to underwhelm with another so-so performance. Corner kick service has been hit and miss. Well struck free kick in the 19th was right at Bingham. Struggling to find the right times to get forward and stay back as Yallop tinkers with the attack.

M Joevin Jones (5) - Played a decent first half as a midfielder before departing in favor of Accam to start the second. His assist on Shipp's goal was well placed. Should have stayed in the game at left back.

F Quincy Amarikwa (5) - Will create chances with hustle and effort like he did by blocking Bingham's kick in the 12th, which led to a chance for Shipp. Will also botch plays in the final third like the shot in the 49th with a good look on goal and teammates trailing.

M David Accam (5) - Showed some flashes and caused some havoc with pressure and pace when he came into the match to start the second half. Inserted on the right side where he was more effective for thirty minutes or so before switching to his preferred left side to finish the match. There were definitely some signs that he could be an impact player. Not as effective in the last ten minutes.

F Kennedy Igboananike (5) - It doesn't speak well for Igboananike that Amarikwa missed time in training this week and he still couldn't beat him out for a starting spot. He was active but not necessarily dangerous after coming on for Stephens in the 67th.

F Guly do Prado (5) - Entered the game in the 74th for Amarikwa and actually may have played forward this time rather than rambling aimlessly through midfield.

Next up

A home game against the Philadelphia Union next Sunday. The line up should be interesting with Maloney gone on international duty.

Filed under: 2015 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Harry Shipp is too good for this team. He needs to have the ball on his foot in the middle of the field. He is our best player. Throwing him out on the wing is such a shame.

    Maloney doesnt look like a very good player. He looks nervous with the ball and his service is not very good. He is being outperformed by Shipp. Iggy won't score mare than 5 goals this season. Last week Yallop said that he had cramps in his legs and wasnt fit to start, what is his excuse this week?

    Accam looked like we expected. Quick player that likes to take players on. The problem will be when there is nobody at the end of his crosses. Quincy is once again isolated up top. Lump a long ball to him and hope he holds it up. Its the same damn thing as last year.

    The problem with this team, besides Yallop, is that when we are not playing well we are REALLY bad. When we do play well, we are only a decent team. That is not good enough. There are at least 30 minutes a game where the team will be very bad. During that time, they will give up goals. But, there are no goals in our team. You're not going to win many games when your strikers can't score. We have 2 strikers that dont score goals. We wont be scoring more than 1 goal a game but we will be allowing at least 1 goal a game. That is not a good combination. At this point, I would be more surprised if we made the playoffs than if we didnt win a single game this season.

    Yallop has absolutely no idea what he is doing with this team.

  • Best looking Fire kit in recent memory.

    Early in the match, Maloney looked to be asking himself what he was doing playing on this team. I still think he will eventually produce for the Fire.

    This team is still coming together, though exactly where they will be when they get together is still debatable. But it will surely be more interesting than last year's wreck.

    Harry Shipp is the real deal. So is David Accam.

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    It's getting more and more difficult watching the Fire after watching
    Barca and seeing how soccer should be played. The Fire probably
    wouldn't have any player that could make their second team but damn the team at least could play interesting soccer. Instead we get lob passes to nowhere, defensive miscues, and disorganization.
    Shipp should be taking free kicks instead of Maloney who seems badly out of form. We'll see next week when he is out if someone can fill that slot.
    I admit there were intermittent signs of improvement but still too many players look like they are not the same page.

  • In reply to Ron Stone:

    Watching Barca at their best would make about 95% of the other teams in the world look like inferior soccer.

  • Is it just me, or did anyone else notice Maloney pick up his level of play a bit after Accam came on? Maybe he thought, "finally, a player that is on the same level as me".

  • In reply to jestrada13:

    If that's the case, then Maloney needs to figure out how to be a leader and bring UP the level of the other players. That's what he was brought in to do, not to wait around for players "on the same level" to show up, 'cause that ain't gonna happen.

  • In reply to jestrada13:

    Yeah, I totally noticed that too. Although they all seemed to run out of steam after about 20 minutes. There are a couple of possible explanations for it, and I honestly don't have any idea why he did. Could simply be more energy on the pitch. Could be more help. Could be that, as a threat, Accam drew more attention towards himself and some away from Maloney, which made him more dangerous. We'll see.

  • Agree with you that Palmer needs to be at RB, I made a post last week about how plenty of players seem to be playing out of preferred positions. It might not be a huge deal to other teams, but THIS team could use players being 100% comfortable at their positions.

    I was only able to catch the first half, and from highlights it seems nothing happened the second half. But seems people like what they saw from Accam so that's a positive. Some quick thoughts.

    Maloney for me seemed nervous and unsure of himself. And that is shocking for a player with his background.

    Jones seems like a solid player going forward. I agree he should have stayed on at LB, I mean thats what they signed him for.

    Team movement is laughable. They team does not press together, its usually 1 person. And again, the off the ball movement while in possession is shocking. One example stands out, Polster had the ball along the back line, Stephens moved into the center of the field and just stood their with a defender in between him and the ball. He needs to move to create windows for a pass.

    The most frustrating thing about the team, and Alexi touched on this. The team has talent and should be able to compete. Mental errors, Set piece defending, standing around, lack of communication, etc. This team needs more people like Harry that take this shit personal.

  • Harry Shipp looked good, and Accam did bring some level of energy and speed which was sorely needed but the fact the rest of the team wasn't on the same page did help. Maloney still seems to have no clue what his role is supposed to be, and I'd have to figure that Yallop doesn't know either. His free kicks have been nothing special and it drives me nuts knowing that Shipp's services which have been the best I've seen in awhile are being wasted. As for the defense, the marking/mistakes the first three games have been inexcusable. Yes, every team is prone to make mistakes, but we seem to find ways to compound them every time, and when your offense isn't making up for them, you find yourself in a deeper hole.

    While it's only 3 games in and a horrible start, it's MLS, and there is time to turn it around, but Yallop better put the parts together ASAP and get this team competing for a whole 90 mins otherwise this is going to be another nightmare of a season.

  • In reply to pezkoreaddict:

    The amount of almost uncontested cheap goals they've given up as a result of errors over the last few seasons is astounding.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    And a lot of that has to go on SJ. He not only has to make better decisions, but has to control the area and his defense much better and distribute the ball properly. JL needs to go to the bench.. he's too slow and just not a CB. I would move Polster back to CB, use Cocis for DM with Jones at LB.

    Those new DB strikers do not appear to have the quality to compete, other than Accam, who appears to be quite dangerous and encouraging. Year after year the lack of forward pressure and numbers in the area is really troubling.

    Yallop's interviews on the sideline sound like he's still in training camp mode.. just throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. No sense of urgency. Doing his best Mark Trestman impression.

  • I agree that Accam provided a spark in the 2nd half. But the defensive miscues are going to continue to kill us, no matter what he does.

    Objectively, I think it would be totally normal if only one of our 3 DPs worked out as promised. That's just what happens when you play the transfer market. That said, I think that a large part of Maloney's troubles should be laid at the feet of Yallop. What does Yallop want our offense to do? Only Shipp seems to know, or be confident enough to do what he thinks should be done in spite of the lack of a coherent plan.

    The horrible error by SJ was shocking and maybe the most distressing outcome of the game for me. I don't think he has confidence in his defenders to clear crosses, and that effort reminded me of the questionable judgment he showed defending crosses from a few years ago. As for the defenders, their disorganization has to be laid at the feet of Yallop. He was a defender himself, too, which makes these errors all the more baffling.

    Well at least we got a goal. Thanks, Harry, and keep banging 'em in. Looks like nobody else will.

  • I'm not sure having won the possession battle the last two games in anything to be excited about. Vancouver is a counter-attacking team and it seems like San Jose is set up the same way. So really we SHOULD have won that battle. From what I have seen with Jones at LM, he adds a nice dimension. Is there something up with Cochrane with him not getting starts at LB? He wasn't even on the bench. Regardless, it is the same old problems as last season.

  • In reply to MReichert:

    The possession stat was misleading, especially early, when the Fire didn't even try to get the ball to Shipp, Jones or Amarikwa. It was purely possession for possessions sake, which is not bad at times, but something that needs to be second nature for the team to succeed.

    That said, I think this game the possession stat was a little more meaningful than against Vancouver. Even as a counter-attacking team, I would have expected San Jose to hold the ball a bit better at home in a stadium opener. Word is Kinnear was not too happy about how easily JJ Koval and Alashe gave up center mid.

  • In reply to MReichert:

    Jones played well as a left mid because that is where he played with his previous club. He has looked good there in his two games. Better than he looked at left back. I'm curious to see what Yallop does when he has Maloney, shipp, Accam, and Jones all healthy. Who sits? Jones should be looked at as a midfielder. He was a liability at left back.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Why have one sit? All four can play in the midfield four of a 4141. Accam looked better on RM than LM yesterday.

    Also, I didn't think Jones was worse at LB than Palmer or Cochrane or Gehrig at RB.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    I guess we are already at the stage where we need to throw everything into the attack because those 4 dont play defense.

    What Jones brings as a midfielder is better than what he can bring as a defender. It's the position that he has played his whole career so far. He played one game at LB and was beat time and time again. He then has played in midfield and did well at home and then had the assist yesterday. He should be in the midfield. We should have signed a LB in the winter, Yallop didnt do that.

  • The more I see Yallop's line-up decisions, signings and trades, the more I agree with Rubberbandman. The amount of questionable decisions is beyond lengthly for a coach just over a year into his regime. There is still time for a rebound and things to change, but damn, it doesn't look good.

    Pretty depressing state of affairs for the Fire right now. Saw someone say on Twitter last night that the Fire are the new Chivas USA. While it's a stretch, there isn't another team in the league that that statement would be more true than the Fire. We used to be a top notch MLS team, then Hauptman bought the club and things have been absolutely terrible ever since. It's really sad, I'm feeling really bummed about the squad...seems like we are becoming the new, old Blackhawks when Dollar Bill Wirtz was running the much potential, yet so much disappointment.

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    No, don't come to my side. It's depressing. Give the manager more time to right the Shipp.

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    In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    The ownership and management are simply lost. They have had several years to reverse this downward trend (starting with Hauptman's ownership, IMO) He's clueless and has surrounded himself with second-rate staff.

    In two seasons they've done nothing to address the terrible defensive performances. Why is J.L. still playing defense? Why is Shipp still not playing in the center? Why is anyone playing in the position they are playing in? Why do we have all these pieces which simply do not fit together?

  • In reply to Jeff S:

    I'm optimistic at this stage. Think seriously about where things were at the end of last season. Then look at the changes that led to the present team personnel. Don't forget the possible contributions of the returns of Nyarko and Magee later this season. I agree there are many questions that can be asked. Many debatable decisions on the table for dissection. But the overall result looks to me an improvement from last season. A very deep hole had been dug and, Frankly (pun intended), last years staff maneuvers were a failed fart in the dark.

    Results thus far this season have been non-existent, I'll grant you. But there are signs of possibilities. I'm not buying product yet but I'm watching with interest. Don't get me wrong. This could still go either way. But it seems a bit premature to shoot the fish in our barrel.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    Q. How many playoff teams last year finished the first three games without a point?

    A. Zero

  • In reply to Arklow:

    You are right Arklow, there is still lots of time, Nyarko and Magee will eventually be back (but how long until they are really back, if you know what I mean), and Perez might come in and solidify the holding mid spot. The potential is there, which is why I can't commit to jumping head first into Rubberbandman's deep abyss of doubt.

    But Yallop has made so many questionable decisions thus far. From line-up decisions, to poor trades, to DP signings duplicating strengths and/or being ineffective thus far, to not fully addressing the needs on the back line.

    One of these two sides will take root over the next few months and we'll all know what we are really dealing with. Or not...and we'll just settle in to more mediocrity with a bit of potential and a lot of doubt.

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    In reply to Arklow:

    Agree I'm a bit on the negative side there but it's the same trend every year, yet worse each cycle.

  • In reply to Jeff S:

    I think there a sound reason people say to give a coach 3 years before making a change:

    Year 1: Sort out what you have of value from the mess left by the last regime, do the best you can, try shit, get many players on the field and see what they got. Clear out dead wood

    Year 2: Bring in the players you want and implement the system you want. Probably a rough start, but by the end of the season pieces should be clicking and results should be obvious and positive.

    Year 3: Crush it or begone.

    Seems like the trajectory we're on (though obviously too soon to tell). My only quibble with what Yallop has done so far is that he gave a lot of time last year to players we knew we weren't going to or be able to keep due to salary/talent level/etc. and didn't make a lot of time to see what some of our other options had to offer. Pineda for example. Also, I know people weren't wild about Hunter Jumper, but I can't remember a single time he played for us (and there weren't many, admittedly) where the general response to his play wasn't more positive than not.


  • In reply to DDT5583:

    For examples, please see Sigi in Colombus, Kreis in RSL, Olsen in DC, Heaps in NE, and to some extent even Arena in LA

  • In reply to DDT5583:

    A fair enough theory if the team is trending in the right direction. But if not, you have to clear house if you can see the team isn't improving, or worse. Take the Trestman experiment as an example. Yallop, thus far, has made a number of moves, some good, some bad. It's still too early to be sure, so he deserves more time. At the end of the year, I think it'll be clear which way the team is trending, and what move needs to be made...or not made. But I do believe 2 years is enough to get an idea of whether the team is moving in the right direction, stagnating, or getting worse.

  • In reply to DDT5583:

    Hunter Jumper was dealing with a medical issue that kept him out all year and probably from playing at a major level again.

    The tech staff felt Pineda was just a notch below MLS level. We'll see if that bears out.

  • In reply to DDT5583:

    In this league, you can take a team from the worst record in the history of the league one year to winning the conference the next. That is exactly what DC United did. You dont need 3 years to see if a team is going in the right direction. Look at the managers that you listed there. Those are a few of the best managers that the league has seen. Yallop is NOT that. He won the league twice with a young De Rosario and Landon Donovan and has done absolutely NOTHING since. His teams dont play attractive soccer and he is not a good judge of talent. He says all of the things that he thinks people want to hear. His go to line this season is "there have been some good patches but the results arent there." Well when the hell are the results going to come? Are we going to wait until Magee and Nyarko to come back before that happens. Both player coming of long term injuries and may never be the same players as before. Are Nyarko and Magee going to affect the terrible defenders that we have? Yallop is bringing this club down. We were more fun to watch with Klopas...


  • I can't tell if Iggy is adjusting to a different style of play than he's used to or what. I see effort, but it's almost like he's not getting into opportunities where he's clicking. Dunno.
    I like that Accam has initiative to create. So glad he was on the field.

    I'm starting to get that "fluid" play FY talks about. At times it seem that people are all over and madly out of position, which makes me raise my eyebrows every time, however.

    I do feel they are getting their feet under them, so to speak, and can see how this team has the potential to look.

    I would consider Sunday's game to be a must-win. Not just to keep pace with the rest of the conference in points, but for a moral win, which is needed. It's needed.

  • I sent an email to the Trib Sports dept. They haven't yet included the Fire in their event calendar, nor listed their results in the scores section. Wonder how far into the season it will be before they catch on or maybe the Fire is relegated to the status of the Chicago Wolves.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    The Tribune Sports Department is (and has been for some time) out of touch with any sports stories they can't simply pick up off the news service wires. They still want to be a newspaper and newspapers are nearly all dead. As are they. You're following a zombie sports news source. Bet they haven't responded to your email yet either. If they have, you can bet it was a meaningless robo-reply.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    That isn't surprising. I don't believe the folks who run the sports section at the Trib have much interest in soccer at all.

    Besides, I know of a Tribune owned blog where you get more Fire info than you will in the paper. ;)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I agree with the general sentiment about the Tribune Sports Dept not giving soccer the proper level of respect. However, my personal experience when speaking with Mike Kellams at the Tribune last spring resulted in positive change in the way MLS standings are presented in the Scoreboard section. Being an old-timer, I like to look at the tables by scanning Games Played and Points to get an idea of how the teams stack up relative to one another. Because the MLS schedule has so many bye weeks, the number of games played is rarely the same for all teams. So then I have to add up W-L-D to get the info that I need, which I really don't think I should have to do.

    I e-mailed Mike, explained my problem, and asked whether they could make that change (they were already doing it for the Premier League standings). Within a few days, they made the change, and the MLS standings almost looked like a proper soccer table.

    So, rather than assume that the Tribune hates soccer and nothing will ever improve, just remember the old saying, "If you don't ask, you don't get."

    Update: I guess I have to keep asking; the GP column has disappeared this season.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    They probably haven't changed it because no one works there anymore. And by now they probably have about as many readers as writers.

    Frankly, I found (back when I looked at newspapers) their Fire coverage to be worthless. Merely summarizing the game. I admit it's been many years since I last looked but I doubt it's changed.

    This is the only place I've found great analysis and opinion on the Fire and from someone with media ties into the team (rather than some random schlub like me).

  • How is Jon Busch better than Sean Johnson? (and vice versa)

    I'm trying not to trash SJ, but when it comes to confidence, Jon always seems to bring it. Plus he distributes from the back with more certainty.
    (And iirc, he had more SotW nominations than SJ last year.)

  • Player ratings (1-10 scale)
    GK Sean Johnson (2)
    D Eric Gehrig (3)
    D Jeff Larentowicz (4)
    D Adailton (4)
    D Lovel Palmer (4)
    M Matt Polster (4)
    M Harry Shipp (7)
    M Michael Stephens (4)
    M Shaun Maloney (4)
    M Joevin Jones (5)
    F Quincy Amarikwa (4)
    M David Accam (5)
    F Kennedy Igboananike (3)
    F Guly do Prado (3)

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