Galaxy 2 Fire 0 - recap and ratings

The Fire took one on the chin in the opening match of 2015. A 2-0 loss to the defending MLS Cup Champion Los Angeles Galaxy isn't worrisome as a stand alone result but the bigger concern should be the limp challenge en route to a beating that probably should have been worse. The final numbers show the home team with a 53-47 advantage in possession but the Fire did very little with the ball when they were able to keep it, mustering just one shot on target. The play looked indicative of a side that is incorporating new pieces and missing others. "I thought in the first half we were poor," said Frank Yallop after the match. "It seemed like the occasion kind of got us a little bit but I told the guys at half time the good news is its nil-nil."

The second half started better for the Fire but a sloppy defensive play, something that was commonplace last season, derailed any hope of stealing a result. "I thought spirit wise it was good. Our performance football wise wasn't good especially in the first half. We had spells that were really good but not enough to warrant a win," said Yallop. Missing pieces and a questionable approach all played into this one. A 4-4-2 alignment against the Galaxy on the road probably wasn't the best choice and the combination of Quincy Amarikwa and Kennedy Igboananike up front hasn't shown that it can create much going forward.

This wasn't pretty but it's important to remember that the team was missing several key pieces. David Accam, Razvan Cocis, and the recovering Mike Magee all would have made a difference in this game. Unfortunately the Fire won't have the luxury of learning as they go with the Eastern Conference set to be fiercely contested. They will need to improve quickly or get left behind early. Time will tell if they can take the next step. Accam's injury isn't a long term one and he alone is capable of changing how opponents defend this team.

There won't be much of a grace period from supporters who are expecting that the frustration of last season is behind them. This one looked familiar and that's not a good sign but one bad outing doesn't make the season.

Player ratings

GK Sean Johnson (5) - Three saves on the night. He did spill one for a rebound chance in the 10th from a free kick.

D Lovel Palmer (4) - Zardes was up and down the wing for much of the first half with ease and the Fire were fortunate one or two of the chances created as a result didn't end up in the net. Villareal was also effective. Palmer was in the wrong spot and too close to Larentowicz on LA's second goal.

D Jeff Larentowicz (3) - A very difficult night for the captain as he played a role in both Los Angeles scores. The first came directly as a result of a mis-hit ball that landed at the feet of Villareal and he was lost in space while Keane scored the second.

D Eric Gehrig (5) - Easily the Fire's best defender in this match. That's not a huge feat but it at least assures the staff that he can play and contribute when Adailton does not.

D Joevin Jones (4) - Beaten by Ishizaki for a good portion of the first forty-five but he did win some battles in the second half. Jones will need to be better if the back line is to improve over last year's ugly numbers.

M Chris Ritter (4) - Subbed out in the 63rd after a first half in which the Fire were basically overrun. This is the position which needs to keep the ball moving forward to find Maloney and the attackers. Central midfield will need to improve if the Fire are to challenge for anything.

M Matt Watson (4) - Removed in the 55th and Yallop' substitutions and adjustments seemed to work briefly as the Fire gained some positive play to start the second half. The Watson/Ritter combination simply was overmatched against the Galaxy.

M Harry Shipp (5) - Tucked more inside and central to start the second half as the Fire mounted a modicum of resistance. Shipp was involved in most of the positive play although it wasn't much.

M Shaun Maloney (4) - His MLS debut was a quiet one. He and Shipp were largely absent from possession for most of the first half. He didn't factor much into the second either.

F Quincy Amarikwa (5) - Did his usual thing and came close to drawing a penalty in the 58th when he appeared to go down after contact with Rogers in the penalty area. He was the subject of another borderline no-call in the 64th. Neither was probably enough for a whistle.

F Kennedy Igboananike (4) - Showed some pace but didn't factor into much else. Left the match in the 73rd and limped to the sidelines. If Yallop is going to play Amarikwa and Igboananike together while Accam and Magee are out he's going to have to figure out how exactly they're going to play in combination when neither is a particularly good passer.

M Michael Stephens (5) - Came on for Watson in the 55th as the Fire enjoyed the brief spells of danger early in the second half.

M Matt Polster (5) - It's a good sign that the coaching staff has enough confidence in the rookie that they were comfortable enough in his ability to bring him in right away against a quality team. Subbed into the match in the 63rd for Ritter. He was beaten by Husidic for a ball that ended up feeding Keane for the second goal but he was defending an area that appeared to be vacated by Gehrig.

M Guly do Prado (5) - He didn't get much time in preseason due to minor knock but he was at least active after coming on for Igboananike in the 73rd.

Next up

The home opener against Vancouver next Saturday at 5.


Filed under: 2015 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Im not sure the Fire connected 4 passes in the first half. This team is no where near good enough. Ritter should not be on the field for a long time. He lost the ball every time he got it, no matter where he was on the field. I was quick to judge Polster before really seeing him play. When he came on yesterday, he was every where. Demanding the ball from the back four and, at the very least, trying to play soccer. We are not going to be good this year. Polster should be playing instead of Watson and Ritter. Those two are not going to help us win now or in the future. Maloney looked like a regular player. Nothing special and nothing terrible. Our best player is still Harry Shipp. Quincy is better than Iggy, and both did nothing last night. that "4-4-2" was more like a 4-2-2-2. No width at all. They were killing us down both wings. The score could have easily been 5 or 6. We were lucky to only lose by 2. Im so excited to see this team play live next week...

    Only 9 more games until we can judge them... Yallop. Out.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Well written.

    I defended larentowicz in the past, but that was a shocking at times.

    Ritter was bad. Watson was bad. Ritter and Watson were awful together.

    Spot on with the 4222 call. The secons i saw the lineup i could see the result. It didnt work in preseason against vancouver. It wasnt going to work against LA.

    Individually i generally like the players Yallop brought in. But collectively, with Yallops bad tactics, its not working.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    I thought we saw enough of Watson and Ritter last year to know that we cant win games with them on the field together. Cocis and Accam would not have made a difference Friday night. The team looked completely lost out there. Some of that falls on the players but they weren't set up to succeed because of Yallop. We were terrible during the pre season and that has clearly transitioned into the regular season. Accam will come in a replace who? Shipp or Quincy I bet, and they were the two players that tried to do something on Friday.

    Yallop said he wanted to play a 433 but I havent seen it one time. He didnt play that in preseason and he sure didnt play that on Friday. Iggy is not a lone striker. Iggy is Oduro 2.0. He is not going to win any aerial challenges and he doesnt hold the ball up very well. Seems like he would be a better winger than a striker. He is the typical Chicago DP signing. On the bench by June.

    Like I said earlier, Polster was a pleasant surprise on Friday. He was collecting the ball from the backs. Giving them an option and was visibly angry when they just kicked it as far as they could. He needs to be on the field. I would feel not as terrible if it was him and Cocis in the middle. I would like to see a lineup like this on Saturday:

    I think that team might come close to winning.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Accam wouldn't make a difference? He is considerably better than Amarikwa and it's not even close.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I understand that Accam is better than Quincy, I didnt say he wasnt. I dont think he would have made a difference on Friday. It would be hard for him to do things when we dont have the ball. When we cant make 5 passes in a row. Those were all problems that I have been mentioning since the the start of preseason. It is a very hard game to play when you never have the ball. If the players in the key positions cant keep the ball, you are going to have a very hard time doing anything. If we want to be a counter attacking team, we have to be extremely solid in the back. We are not that. If we want to be a possession team, we need to have good players in the middle of the field. We do not have that. We are a team with no identity, mediocre players, and a mediocre coach. That is not a good combination. We will NEVER win things with Yallop in charge. Accam may turn out to be our best and most exciting player but he will have to do a lot of defensive work through out the season. Im glad we have him, but if i was given a choice between Iggy and a real CB, I would choose the CB every single time.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Agree on the lack of identity and the center back.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I see Jeff's point from his comment further down how a lack of chemistry can play into a lack of identity, but I feel like there has been that lack of identity while under Yallop, (well other than "compact-ish.") With Klopas in comparison, it felt much more distinct.

    You hit a good point, RBM.

  • I'd rather see them bunker down and play for 0-0 tie against a superior opponent like LA when they're just learning to play together.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    They are not better than any team in this league. We will have to bunker down all season. We aren't good enough to be a counter team. We lack any really good players. Our midfielders and defenders are terrible. We have a coach that has no idea what formation to play and the team looked lost from the first kick. Cocis and Accam are not going to fix those issues. We didn't even come close to scoring last night. We havent played one good game since Yallop has been the manager. This will be a long season.

  • Here we go again.

    One positive for me was Gehrig. I thought he was pretty decent. Looked better than Larentowicz even. Johnson looked surprisingly shaky. Everyone else? Blech.

  • Horrible effort by the Fire and tremendously boring approach.

    No pressing to speak of; passing pathetic; designated players mediocre; embarrassing defending.

    I'll check back in after the European season is over. If they are in the top 5 maybe I'll pay attention.

    Otherwise I'll be watching the Brasilero, Copa America and the Gold Cup this summer.

  • New players, same result. 10 field players running about aimlessly. The next match shows Yallops ability. He is the constant between between the last 2 seasons. If the poor soccer continues the miniscule faith I have in him will evaporate. Another long season with sub par talent.

    At least I am taking the family on a nice vacation with my season ticket money so I will have positive memories for the money!

  • Shipp cannot play defense. I cannot remember ever seeing him initiate a tackle let alone win the ball. His vision is wonderful but he needs to be more physical. Stephens needs to learn how to pass to players on his own team. Quincy needs to get a better first touch fast. Same old story. just like last year they loozed unprepared and had no strategy

  • "Iggy" hasn't shown much during his spell so far.
    He wasn't involved that much in the game.
    do Prado should be starting over Iggy.
    Looks like Maloney doesn't have his sea legs as yet,
    hopefully his passing accuracy will improve with more play.
    Quincy, Shipp,Gehrig, and Polster were the best for the Fire.
    Too early to judge how good the Fire really are, tough way to start the season against perhaps the best team in the league in their own park. Felt the team would lose even before the game started and should surprise no one that they lost.
    What is disconcerting is the total lack of offensive pressure and seeing the same mistakes that the team has made in the past two seasons. Big weakness in the offensive midfield .
    Hopefully, next time out will be a victory.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    do Prado's fouling came off as very Brazilian-flavored to me. I felt he got away with some moves that would have been a card in another ref's eyes. Hopefully him doing it stemmed more from the situation of play than what would constitute his normal MO.

    On another note, I'm probably very glad I avoided social media for the following few days.

  • Your in for a long year Guillermo.

  • In reply to waamsy:

    The last five have been long....I'm used to it. ;)

  • Gonna be a long, tough season.

    On a separate note, any explanation on why the English SAP feed wasn't working?

  • In reply to Doug:

    I was able to get the English feed on the Univision HD channel.

  • In reply to Doug:

    Yea I read that UNIMAS doesnt have that but Univision does. Didnt know that until after the match. I also heard that the English commentary wasnt very good.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    It was not but I can't stand "Jamaica USA", full name guy.

  • I remarked on Friday night that it didn't seem the Fire had any real tactical play going forward. That was likely due in large part to guys who haven't played together extensively, but I definitely felt like some of the lineup choices were a head scratcher. Given the players available, I would've liked seeing do Prado in place of Amarikwa, and Ritter w/ Watson seemed doomed from the opening whistle.

    Going to be interested to see how this week unfolds, if Accam is healthy, and what Yallop does in the central midfield, where the Fire conceded far too much again like they did last year.

  • Guys. Jeff L should return to his midfield position immediately. Ritter should be on his way to St. Louis and the center backs should be gherig and the Brazilian. The problems that Ritter causer were huge during the game. I am a bit surprised at how poorly Yallop evulates talented player. If I owned the team Yallop would be driving a cab in Vancouver . Peckie would be the coach.

  • I felt leery before the game even began, and it only got worse as it went on.

    The only positive from this was that the despair faded by Sunday. Much better than going into a Monday morning with the same angst.

  • Any thoughts on MLS expansion? When will the next 2 teams join the league (Atlanta and LA right?)? I really think they need to hold off on expansion until they can figure out how to fill the seats in the franchises that are struggling for attendance. The Fire supposedly average 16,000+ last year. I don't believe that for a minute. Columbus and New England both supposedly had more fans than the Fire.

    Also, I really think the league needs to address artificial turf. It's great for high school and college teams because it gives teams the ability to practice etc. rain or shine, but the professional game is just not the same when played on turf especially in Seattle where that turf seems to be extra hard.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Right....Atlanta and LA2 are next.

    I hate turf as well but it seems they'll proceed regardless. I think Sacramento and Minnesota are prime candidates for the next round. Winning will cure the struggles at the gate regardless of what the turf is.

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