The Fire will rue opportunities like this one come October. After taking a lead in the 14th minute and clearly dominating a struggling and undermanned New York City FC side, the Fire added a second goal via a penalty kick in the 27th. The penalty kick foul also resulted in a straight red card to RJ Allen. It appeared that the visitors would roll at this point but a careless team breakdown late in the first half gave New York life. That lack of concentration is indicative of what is the biggest area of concern for this team behind the anemic production from the forward position.
The talk during the week centered around being more "ruthless" in both boxes going into this match and instead the result was a "toothless" effort while playing with a man advantage for over an hour. That lack of killer instinct should raise more eyebrows than any missed shot or blown opportunity in front of goal. The difference between the good teams in MLS and the teams that meander around the red line is the ability to pick up points against the lower half clubs while they're struggling. New York City FC is not a good team right now and the Fire let them off the hook.
Frank Yallop expressed his thoughts on the match following another disappointing result. "Not good," he said. "It was probably the best we've played in a long time in the first 44 minutes. There could have been more. I just talked to the guys in there an I'm just disappointed in how we handled the second half. We just stopped playing. I think the goal right before half time obviously gives them hope, then you've just got to get one goal to get a tie. I just felt that we allowed them to play when we shouldn't have. We had chances to bury the game as well, but still, we shouldn't give them a chance. We're disappointed."
As promising as the first 30 minutes looked, the last hour managed to dash any of that optimism by raising more questions.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - credited with three saves but gave up a rebound on Villa's long shot just before the half. Beaten on Shelton's low shot in stoppage time. He wasn't terrible but there seems to be something not quite there this season.
D Lovel Palmer (5) - New York really didn't have much going from the outside. Palmer wasn't very involved in getting forward however as the Fire seemed to sit back and played more cautiously in the second half. Where was he on the first NY goal?
D Jeff Larentowicz (5.5) - Very active in the first half on both ends. Buried the PK for his third goal of the season. In the picture for both NY goals although both were more indicative of team breakdowns rather than individual error.
D Adailton (5) - Not as active as Larentowicz but was also good for about 40 minutes or so before the tables began to turn. Both centerbacks stepped up to challenge Villa in stoppage time, which left an opening for Shelton to square the equalizer.
D Joevin Jones (5.5) - More active in the first half than he was the second as the Fire inexplicably stepped off the gas while playing up a man. Reemerged late to find Amarikwa for a chance in stoppage time.
M Matt Polster (5) - The Fire won the overall possession battle 52-48 but Polster was somewhat quiet throughout. He was also in the vicinity of Villa for the second NY goal.
M Razvan Cocis (5.5) - Scored his first goal of the season on a classy header in the 14th as the Fire looked like they were rolling at that point. Midfield play was mediocre for a large part of the last 50 minutes however.
M Harry Shipp (5) - A few chances that were off the mark, a handful of somewhat effective crosses, and one shot on target marked a so-so night for Shipp. The Fire should have been able to create much more than they did in the second half while playing up a man.
M David Accam (6) - There were numerous opportunities for a third or even a fourth goal that were squandered. That said, Accam does change the game for Chicago. He was tripped in the box after dispossessing Allen leading to the PK and a red card. All of those missed chances and a pass or two that should have been made keep this mark where it is.
F Shaun Maloney (6) - Back in the underneath role after playing outside last week. He was effective there for the most part, through the first 40. He was one of the few players that showed something in the second half, although none of his activity led to a third goal.
F Kennedy Igboananike (5) - Better than what we've seen from the striker position for the last several weeks but that's not saying a whole lot. Should continue to start but that's not exactly a ringing endorsement of this game.
F Quincy Amarikwa (5) - Several wayward passes and dubious decisions after replacing Igboananike in the 67th. Did show some initiative late with a backheel flick that was saved by Saunders in stoppage time.
M Michael Stephens (5.5) - Entered the match for Shipp in the 71st. Long shot on goal in the 78th was saved relatively easily and he find Johnson for a look late.
F Jason Johnson (5) - Came into the game for Accam in the 88th. Had a good look in the 90th minute, just before Shelton scored, but sailed it wide.
A visit to Columbus next Friday.