The Fire's woes in the final third and difficulties against the Western Conference continued in a 2-1 loss to a Real Salt Lake team that had been struggling to generate anything offensively themselves. The visitors didn't exactly bust out of their own season long offensively slump but managed to score two goals with their only two shots on target of the entire match. The Fire were slightly better in creating opportunities but the ability to convert those chances failed them yet again.
Through eight contests this season, the Fire have scored only six times and three of those came in one game against Toronto. To accentuate the issue, central defender Jeff Larentowicz is the only player to have scored more than once this season. The problem in the final third won't be solved by continuing to trot out Guly do Prado, Quincy Amarikwa, or possibly even apparent failed designated player Kennedy Igboananike. It' still early in the season but it's probably not too soon to tell that an upgrade is needed up front if the Fire are to contend for anything more than one of the final playoff spots in the East. Help is on the way with the return of Mike Magee but pinning hopes on a player who is recovering from surgery and who has only had one big year in terms of goal numbers is questionable.
Chances are the Fire will be in the market for a striker in the July transfer window.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - As mentioned above, RSL only had two shots on target and both wound up in the net. Neither can really be faulted to Johnson but it's not a particularly impressive stat.
D Joevin Jones (6) - It speaks volumes when your fullbacks were probably the most dangerous attackers throughout most of the match. Jones continues to play well with a lapse here ir there. He was a step behind Mulholland on the second goal but that was more of a team breakdown than a case of Jones being beat. Did serve in several dangerous crosses that were either thwarted by RSL or by the Fire attackers.
D Jeff Larentowicz (5.5) - Converted the spot kick for the Fire's only goal and kept the back organized for the most part.
D Adailton (4.5) - Easily his least effective game so far for the club. He was sucked in by Luis Gil's run in the 14th minute and vacated the area that Alvaro Sabario found space in to quickly maneuver a shot past Johnson that set the tone for match. The goal was against the run of play and put the Fire in a tough spot. He was also beaten by Sandoval's run setting up the second goal.
D Lovel Palmer (6) - Also very active from the other side of the pitch as the Fire fullbacks did provide plenty of help getting forward. He and Jones were the best weapons on the first half. It should be evident that he's the best option at right back on the squad.
M Matt Polster (5.5) - The Fire were better in central midfield this week than they were last. Polster had some bright spots in combination but also had a turnover or two in tough spots to start counter attacks. The Fire won the possession battle 56-44 and competed 80% of their passes.
M Matt Watson (5) - It was going to be difficult for the Fire to generate much from the middle of the pitch with Shipp and Maloney on the outside and the two forwards doing what they do. Watson wasn't bad but also didn't factor in much. Left the match in the 53rd with what was later diagnosed as a concussion. He will be evaluated at training on Monday.
M Harry Shipp (5.5) - It may have made more sense to play Shipp centrally if Maloney was going to be used outside but that wasn't the case. Still exhibits rare vision and passing ability put there isn't much in terms of help playing in front of him.
M Shaun Maloney (5.5) - His corner kick service was okay. His work in combination was okay. His overall play was okay. The problem with just okay is that more is expected from Designated Players, particularly with David Accam missing from the line up. We're still waiting for Maloney to really exert his influence as expected. Catch his post game locker room comments here. Maloney said that the team is hoping that Magee begins full training this week. Earned a penalty kick (albeit a soft one) in the 87th when he was taken down in the box by Vasquez.
F Guly do Prado (4) - During his post game press conference Yallop explained the move to start do Prado underneath Amarikwa as something that "looked good on paper". The tactic failed to work at all. do Prado spent most of his time on the field as he has much of his minutes so far this year, wandering aimlessly with an occasional touch leading to nothing. He was the recipient of a botched clearance in the 54th and killed a perfect 2v2 opportunity with a equally botched half cross/half shot that was weakly rolled at Rimando.
F Quincy Amarikwa (4.5) - All of the hard work and flailing this season has produced very little. The effort is always there though, even if the results are not. That is probably no longer good enough.
F Kennedy Igboananike (5.5) - His finishing during the week is heinous enough to keep him behind the likes of do Prado and Amarikwa but his impact was felt immediately in this game. He entered the match in the 58th for do Prado and got onto the end of a dangerously placed Jones cross to volley a shot forcing Rimando into a difficult save in the 68th. Managed a header attempt in the 69th from another Jones cross.
M Razvan Cocis (5) - Replaced Watson in the 52nd after he was helped from the field and directly into the locker room. Did not figure into much either.
F Jason Johnson (5) - Got into the match in the 85th replacing Adailton as the Fire pushed as many attackers forward as possible. Involved in some activity in the waning moments in combination with Jones but nothing came of it.
- The Red Stars defeated the Boston Breakers 3-0 in the second game of what was billed as a soccer double header.
- The Fire next play in Yankee Stadium against New York City FC on Friday night.