Whitecaps 1 Fire 0 - recap and ratings

This is certainly not the start that Frank Yallop was looking for and definitely not one that the Fire can afford. The inability to take advantage of anything at home coupled with late defensive lapses was of major concern last season and this home opener did nothing to assure anyone that those struggles have been left behind. The line up was different than it was in Los Angeles and although it did produce a first half advantage in play, the results were still the same. The Fire have failed to generate offense consistently and when they have created decent looks, the opportunities have been squandered.

Playing Quincy Amarikwa alone up top and dropping Shaun Maloney back into a flat 4-4-2 next to Jeff Larentowicz for the last thirty minutes don't help things when the offense is struggling but Yallop will need to find answers soon. A loss at home to start the season against a squad also struggling to find their identity will ratchet up the pressure ahead of a trip to San Jose next weekend where they will open another new stadium. The Earthquakes defeated Seattle 3-2, on the road while playing a man down tonight so that doesn't bode well for the Fire either. David Accam is expected to be available but if the first two games are any indication, the Ghanian will need to be spectacular in order to change the look of the club.

Accam, Mike Magee, Razvan Cocis, and Patrick Nyarko have all been missed while Victor Perez should provide some help but that doesn't offer much relief when points are dropped at home.

It's only two games in and the clock is starting to tick on 2015.

Player ratings

GK Jon Busch (6) - Played well in Sean Johnson's absence, contributing five saves. There was nothing he could do about the goal.

D Eric Gehrig (4) - Started the game at right back and looked very much like a center back trying to play outside. The experiment was thankfully shelved in the second half where he moved inside and played better. Awful crosses and difficulty defending marred the first half however.

D Jeff Larentowicz (5) - No mistakes after playing the goat last week. Fairly solid at center back before moving back in center midfield for the last thirty minutes of the match.

D Adailton (5) - The Fire back line was scrambling to defend counters for most of the night. Adailton was steady but did get beaten back on a few occasions.

D Lovel Palmer (5) - An otherwise decent outing in which he played both fullback spots was capped by the unfortunate signature play for Fire defenders over the last few seasons. A bad clearance in the 86th minute spelled doom at home once again. Palmer talks about the play here.

M Matt Polster (5) - Started off very shaky but settled down as the Fire picked up the pace after the first fifteen minutes of the match. Yallop subbed in out in the 59th as he was carrying a yellow card and a warning.

M Joevin Jones (5) - Active in the first half while playing midfield. Had a good chance denied in the 24th but his shot was stopped by Ousted. Moved to left back for the last thirty minutes of the match.

M Michael Stephens (5) - A decent run in his first start but the critical link up in the final third was lacking, as it was for everyone else. Subbed out in the 82nd. Did have one nice pass in the 37th leading to Shipp's shot.

M Shaun Maloney (5) - Had a nicely struck free kick in the 51st, a long shot attempt that missed, and a horrendous corner kick attempt in the 27th. This game was an improvement on last week but if the Fire are to go anywhere this season, Maloney must be much for influential than he has been so far. See him talk about the team's start here.

M Harry Shipp (5) - Created a great chance in the 69th when he dribbled through the Vancouver defense but Stephens' shot was well high. Had a good chnace saved in the 37th. With Shipp, Maloney, and Stephens all pinching in, the Fire have almost no width in midfield. Yallop will need to address this since the 4-1-4-1 he deployed today didn't work. A 4-2-3-1 with the same personnel may have been more effective.

F Quincy Amarikwa (5) - Did what he does in making the opposition work but that's just not enough if you're going to be relied on as the lone forward. Creating contact via a high work rate is one thing but quality and vision in the final third is another. Applaud the effort as always but the Fire are in trouble if Amarikwa is consistently starting games up top by himself.

F Kennedy Igboananike (5) - Came in for Polster in the 59th. That substitution changed the formation to a flat 4-4-2 with Larentowicz and Maloney central and Shipp and Stephens outside. The partnership with Amarikwa worked briefly in one combination play that was snuffed out in the 60th minute. Yallop said Igboananike came off with cramps against LA, but also had a slight calf issue which kept him out of training early in the week. So far the Fire's new DP's have been very underwhelming and there is a sense that the staff may not be over the moon on Igboananike's progress.

M Guly do Prado (5) - Subbed in for Amarikwa in the 76th but inexplicably spent almost all of his time in midfield.

M Alex (5) - Replaced Stephens in the 82nd. Did not factor in.


photos by Sean King (kingsportsphotography.com)

Filed under: 2015 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


Leave a comment
  • fb_avatar

    I feel like giving Igboananike a 5 is a little generous. Other than that- I agree.

    Something has to give way for the Fire to do good. If it doesn't, I hope to God a good coach can turn it around.

  • Great photo content. I really liked the Stand With ACB photo. Best I've seen so far.

  • I'll start with the positve. We were the better team for the first 58 minutes. We created some chances and tried to play soccer. If they played like that all season they would be watchable. Maloney and Shipp were playing decently well together, Amarikwa was doing what he did all last year, Jones looked decent on the wing, we weren't miserable in the back. Jon Busch kept us in the match. If they were a better team, we would have lost by atleast 2 or 3. I might enjoy watching the games if they played that way every week. This team is obviously no where near good enough but those 58 minutes were encouraging.

    Now to the next 32 minutes. Frank Yallop decides to change something that was "working" and completely change it up. He makes one sub and 7 players get a NEW position. Palmer to RB, Gehrig to CB, Red to CM, Jones to LB, Shipp to LM, Maloney to CM, and Iggy coming on. HOW IS THAT A SMART MOVE?? We went from trying to play soccer by passing the ball and creating space for players to Yallop's real style of play. Kick the ball as far as you can and hope that the other team doesnt score. It's not ok when you take off a rookie and put on a DP and we become worse. We instantly became 2 sets of 5. 5 attackers and 5 defenders. It looked like the pickup games I play with my friends on the weekends. THAT is not good enough.

    Frank Yallop doenst have a clue what to do with this team. He got rid of all the players he didnt want from last year, brought in all the players he did want and the same mistakes happened at the end of the match. The exact moment we are ruled out of the playoffs in June, he needs to go. We will not win with him as a manager. His record in MLS is 158W-146L-104T. He's only made the playoffs 5 times in his MLS career and only twice since 2006. He has finished above 5th in his conference one time since 2006. In 2012, he finished with the Supporter's Shield and was knocked out in the quarter finals. I was told that I should judge him after 10 games. 2 down and 8 to go. Up next SJ away, Philly home, TFC home, NE away, Montreal away, NYCFC home, SKC away, RSL home, NYCFC away, Columbus away...


  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Correct mostly, sir.

    The one thing to note is that Gehrig WAS getting nuked on the wing. That said, a wiser change would have been Cochrane for Gehrig and switch Palmer to RB and Cochran to LB. Even Alex/Watson for Gehrig would have been better IMO (with Jones dropping back and Palmer switching). But instead Yallop changed a midfield THAT WAS FINALLY FUNCTIONING and destroyed any rhythm the team was building. You tweak a formation, you don't change everyone's position in the 60th minute. That's on Yallop.

  • Guillermo, thanks for sharing the photos. As always, love reading your rankings, but the visuals were a nice treat.

    The team should have been better than last week, and it was for most of the game as others have pointed out. But the result? Well, we are still in 2nd last place in the league. If NE gets a point at NYC, we will be in last place.

    One way or another, the bleeding has to stop. Soon.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Thanks Modibo. We're always looking for ways to add to Fire Confidential.

    Between this site, the podcast, and the Facebook page, I think you'll find more on the Fire here than you will anywhere else.

  • Hard to believe we paid a transfer fee for Igbo. Is there any team in the league so consistently ridiculous on their choice of DPs? I think Maloney and Accam will be good in this league but it looks like we need great, not just good, if we have any chance of being competitive.

  • In reply to Celt:

    At least he's younger and has something to prove.........

  • fb_avatar

    I agree with you in your Shipp review that they should try a 4-2-3-1. I thought they looked pretty good in the preseason when they ran this formation.

  • I wasn't able to attend so had to watch it on TV. I can say that the best part of the game, for the TV viewers, was towards the end when the CSN feed cut out and we saw a static image for about five minutes.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to manyou07:

    And that is l another reason I refuse to spend $60 a month to get Comcrap TV. I cut the cable years ago and loved being able to watch most games on My50 with a simple antenna.

    And from what I understand the MLS package may have limits like blackouts or delayed broadcasts, plus it's not cheap.

    What is everyone else doing? (Other than just not watching this train wreck.)

  • In reply to Jeff S:

    Canadian VPN + MLS Live. VPN is about 40 bucks a year, everything that's on ESPN/Fox/CSN is not blacked out in Canada, unless it's on TSN too, which happens a couple times a year.

    Only downside is your device (phone/tablet/roku/appleTV/laptop/whatever) needs to be able to access the VPN client.

    Also for cable cutters: Sling TV launched recently, it's 20 bucks a month for ESPN, ESPN2 and like 15 other channels (like TNT, HGTV, Cartoon Network) and for 5 extra bucks a month you can get BeIN (which has most european soccer leagues) and univision (and every other ESPN ever...). You can also use the WatchESPN app with a Sling TV subscription.

  • After watching quite a few of the other MLS games, I think the Fire will have a tough time against even the expansion teams. They may have some weak spots, but at least they also have some top talent with WC experience. Having a couple guys that almost made their National teams is nice, but not quite there.

    I think the Fire improved themselves, but the whole league is also getting better, with more name players coming in, who even at 80% are so much better than what we've got.

    Trying to remain optimistic for the missing guys to come back and then have everyone adjust to each other again. Certainly NE is not the same team without Jones out there. You have to have a couple studs that can just control things and so far Quincy is still the toughest one with the ball.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    That's a valid point regarding improvement relative to the rest of the league. Improving was necessary, but seeing how the new faces of the league are performing, as well as serving as new pieces of their respective clubs, you see how damaging a slow start can be in the long run. It's also interesting to observe players who are on brand new teams, yet not having the issue of gelling that the Fire seem to be having.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    When the best move your target forward has is attempting to draw contact and get PK calls, you're going to have problems.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    He's going to have to stay upright, because his act is played out to the point that he can't even get a legitimate call in the box.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    Right. Refs are looking for and expecting dives now.

  • I have patience for this team, but no faith. That got used up in 2014.

    I also finally got to listen to the latest podcast before the game Saturday (if you haven't listened, you really need to. Evan Whitfield did not throw any soft pitches.)
    From that:
    1) these are grown men- you shouldn't have to give a rah-rah speech at halftime to get them to come back and win.
    2) they had 6 games in preseason to gel on the field and communicate with each other off the field and learn about each other- that's what it's for.

    That said-

    teams that win hardware don't drop their heads when they concede the lead in the 85th minute (like I saw)- they get pi**ed and fight back.

    I am not liking this. I feel bad for the Shaun Maloney and the other new guys, but here's your shovels and there's the hole Chicago is in.

    Get digging.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Evan was great...we'll get him back on soon.

    Maloney needs to step it up and take charge. I sense he tired a bit in the last 15-20 minutes or so but it also doesn't help that he was sitting back next to Larentowicz while do Prado seemingly ran around aimlessly.

  • Very disappointing game. Shipp's play stands out. he is getting stronger and stronger on the ball. Busch's distribution creates offense. Yallop really does prepare teams well. If he thought Gerhig could hold his own on the right, he really had no idea what Vancouver was going to bring to the table. If the Gerhig/Adailton pairing is better than BigRed/Adailton then go with that. Don't force Big Red into the line-up if he doesn't fit. Big Red may be a better CM than CB, but he plays off too much and does not stand the opposing player up soon enough. If anyone saw the second goal in the NYC/NE game Sunday you can see what a CF looks like when Villa played the ball across to Patrick Mullins. Our CFs would have taken the shot. Our other CFs would not have been in the box to slot the ball home. I don't think it is a personnel issue. I think it is a mindset issue that needs to come from training together. Something is wrong, but it is not a lack of skills from the players. It is a lack of preparedness, lack of understanding in the attack, lack of movement of the ball as well as off the ball, lack of trust among the players. End of story. NEW COACH SOON!!!

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I would say Villa is a little better than any of the forwards here. ;)

  • Its a long season. I think things will get better because, well frankly, it cant get much worse. When I look at the team from Saturday, it seems like 4/5 players are playing outside of their natural position. I don't know much but that cant be the best thing for a fluid style of play.

    Also I feel that a big reason for the bad play is how bad our wing play has been. I'm sorry but Stephens doesn't seem to be a wide mid. And Yallop loves putting Shipp outside as well, when he is one of the few players on the team capable of picking out the right pass from the center of the field. Watching highlights from other teams, so many good chances are created from killer service from out wide.

    I guess my point is that I am holding out hope that with Accam healthy on the left and Nyarko healthy on the right it will drastically improve the team and how it plays. Jones can slide back down to LB and Palmer in his RB slot. I would still try to figure out a formation with both Maloney and Shipp in the middle of the field kind of flip flopping each other.

    Lastly, I want a win badly. I can feel the pressure mounting on a "brand" new team already. Even ugly wins can boast morale and the whole #cf97 structure could use a lift at this point. Hopelessly optimistic.

  • In reply to KChance:

    One huge issue is that the team has no width. Maloney, Shipp, Stephens, all wanted to pinch in on Saturday. Accam and Nyarko would be huge additions but there's no telling when Nyarko will actually be back and fit enough to make an impact.

    We'll see what happens when Accam can finally play. He should be the type of player that changes how team's defend them which would open up the offense a bit for Maloney. They are too easy to defend right now.

  • Hey G! You need to send an ultimatum to Total MLS. Either they resume coverage of the Fire (it's been almost a year now) or you'll drop their link! Use your power and leverage!

  • In reply to Arklow:



  • Having finally got to watch the game on the DVR, I'm still concerned by the lacking on the wings, and as much as I'm liking the fluidity of movement, it has me a bit concerned as far as positioning goes. Maybe I just need to get used to it.

    In the post-game interview, I kinda get what Jeff was asking as far as an identity. It seems like this fluid movement has people all over the place.

    God, I really something comes together, or this will be another long season.

Leave a comment