DC United 3 Fire 1 - recap and ratings

With another league match ahead on Saturday and Shaun Maloney away, Frank Yallop changed his line-up a bit coming off of the team's best overall performance against Montreal. Ben Olsen did the same on the opposite bench. Both teams featured a less than first choice squad but the Fire failed to capitalize on a penalty kick chance in the first half and completely fell apart in the second when Olsen inserted Fabian Espindola into his line-up.

An opportunity to beat a less than full strength DC United side has gone by the wayside and the Fire's string of road futility has increased to 15 games away without a win. The game started out well enough with the Fire conceding some possession (56-44) but enjoying the better of the chances in the first forty-five minutes. Former Fire goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra came up big in place of Bill Hamid, recording six saves including a 26th minute stop of Jeff Larentowicz's penalty kick attempt.

The Fire took a 1-0 lead into the second half but failed to compensate or adjust to the inclusion of Espindola. While Fire defenders ball watched and lost marks, DC capitalized and walked away with all three points to extend their home unbeaten run to 20 games. The Fire may be able to bounce back against an expansion Orlando City FC side at home on Saturday night but they have yet to show that they can win on the road. Furthermore, all four of the team's wins (Philadelphia, Toronto FC, New York City FC, and Montreal) have ended with the Fire enjoying a man advantage at Toyota Park.

“If you look at the way we played it was very good, and basically [after] half time it’s more of the same [of what we’ve seen this season]," said Yallop after the match. "I knew they were going to change the game with putting players on. Espindola comes on and makes a difference, but we seemed to stop playing. You’ve got to credit D.C. for the forceful play, but we’ve got to do better at defending and handling situations. I said they’re going to change it up and get at you so we better be ready for it and we’ve got to adjust our game and play quicker or whatever it is and when we get a chance to punish them on the break, best do it. It’s disappointing – we’re 1-0 up and lose 3-1 away from home. That’s never a good feeling.”

This loss in DC isn't as significant as the fact that another opportunity to take a step forward was wasted. While standing around watching Espindola and Jairo Arrieta finish them off, the Fire moved down into seventh place in the East by virtue of the Union's win over Columbus. The Fire have three games in hand on Philadelphia but that's little consolation when they've shown that they're till not capable of putting together consistent performances.

Player ratings

GK Jon Busch (5) - A good stop of DeLeon's shot in the 10th thwarted DC's best chance of the first half. Credited with five saves. Three goals allowed isn't good but there was little he could have done with any of them.

D Lovel Palmer (4.5) - Back into the line up at right back and didn't contribute much on either end. Deleon beat him twice for good opportunities. His deflection of a pass landed right on the foot of Arrieta for the second goal.

D Jeff Larentowicz (5) - A strong first half despite the weakly struck penalty kick that was denied by Dykstra. He was a step behind in the second half.

D Eric Gehrig (4) - Back in his more natural position of centerback with Adailton being given a rest. An abysmal second half featured a missed mark in space allowing Arrieta to score from a corner kick uncontested. He somehow managed to lose Arrieta after he slipped onto the turf in the 69th before scoring the go-ahead goal. Appeared to slow down to watch Espindola's cross roll by on the way to the third DC score.

D Joevin Jones (4.5) - Actively involved in the first half but struggled defensively in the second. Doyle stepped in front of him to score the third.

M Michael Stephens (5) - Not very involved other than two instances in combination in the second half which led to minor chances for Amarikwa.

M Matt Polster (5) - Solid first half but silent in the second other than a silly yellow card taken on Espindola with two other Fire players ahead of him.

M Matt Watson (4.5) - Complete disappearance in the second half.

M David Accam (5.5) - Scored the Fire's lone goal in the 28th minute to finish a well structured attack. Not as dangerous in the second as DC stayed in front of him.

F Harry Shipp (5.5) - Started in the "underneath" playmaking role and engineered the goal with a run up the left side. A couple of good passes in the second half led to chances but there wasn't enough of it.

F Quincy Amarikwa (5.5) - Set up Accam for the goal with a cross into the box after receiving the ball from Shipp. That well placed pass was the highlight although he did have a few other chances/shots.

M Razvan Cocis (5) - Entered the match in the 62nd for Stephens and the Fire did have a short bump upon his arrival but they allowed the second just 7 minutes later. In the vicinity as Arrieta had time to stumble, get up, and score.

F Kennedy Igboananike (5) - Subbed in for Watson in the 71st. After being named to MLS "team of the week" he found himself on the bench despite only seeing limited minutes this season. The final 20 minutes expired with few touches.

M Guly do Prado (5) - Came in for Accam in the 77th in a "white flag" move. Placed a header just over the net in the 90th minute.

Filed under: 2015 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • Looking back at Saturday, we played extremely well. Completely controlled the match from start to finish. Although Montreal was the worst team I have ever seen at Toyota Park, it was nice to see that performance from the players. It was something to really build on as a team.

    After putting in our best performance of the season, Yallop decides that those players need a rest because they must be exhausted after playing 11 games so far. Many of them not even playing in every match to begin with. These are professional players. They should be able to play a game on Saturday and then again on Wednesday. Since we lost Maloney, we needed to start Quincy, move Shipp to the middle, bring on Stevens, start Watson of Cocis, move Gehrig to the middle, and start Palmer. There was absolutely no reason for all of those moves. Having a back 4 play together for a nice stretch is a good thing. Switching things up every 2-3 games is not. I just don't understand Yallop's thought process. Keeping a consistent lineup is ideal for the players. He is simply not good enough to take this club forward.

  • Well, we're 12 games in and I see a pattern emerging.

    We have good technical ability. It just seems like the mental aspect of the game always has something that falls short, and that's where other teams best us.

    We've also fallen into a spot where we do good when other teams do bad, and when that's not the case, the more solid and cohesive teams will beat us every time, because the mental flaw du jour will show itself, whether it is not putting in the effort for the full 90, the foot comes off the pedal some after a lead-setting first goal is scored, or we just let ourselves get out-played (which results in lots of 1-step-behind actions that lead to goals being conceded.)

    We've seen in Columbus that they can fight and stay in the game a full 90. The question is: can they make that mentality a consistent part of the fabric? So far, the answer is a glaring "no." I still have faith, but my confidence isn't faring so well right now.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Hopefully the upcoming additions of Magee and Nyarko will change that mental aspect. It will be interesting to see what happens when they both get some game action and get settled, and by then Maloney and Accam should be back from international duty giving us a full team for the first time this season.

  • In reply to cf97TID:

    Those two guys returning will help but it's important to remember that it will take both of them some time before they are back to top form. Both are recovering from significant injuries.
    It should also be a concern, that even if those two do return at full strength, it doesn't address the tendency for defensive collapse at any given time.

  • In reply to cf97TID:

    Also, every one of those 4 are midfielders, the position of greatest strength. The forwards may still come around. They're showing signs.

    Our defense worries me. They've done tolerably well, but there's precious little depth. One good injury could undo our back line.

    But I still say we're better than last year even if the stats don't show it. And I think they will continue to improve on their consistency, though it's frustratingly slow in coming.

  • Last night it seemed that Olsen was willing to make adjustments in order to control the game and Yallop didn't. I'm really glad Yallop chose to rest Accam for his international duty with Ghana.

  • As I said on Twitter last night, I can't understand how you don't field a first choice lineup against DCU, then a lineup like we saw last night against Orlando on Saturday. Knowing Ben Olsen would likely do the same presents a perfect opportunity to capitalize and gain three points. Now the best they can hope for is a win against OCSC, unless there's another 2nd half disappearing act.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    100% agree. Field your best team and try to make up some ground on DCU, especially when they're not at full strength. After your best performance of the season against Montreal, try to keep that momentum going against the top team in your conference...a win would have been a huge boost for their confidence.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    ^^^^what Jeff said ten times over; however, I'm taking it that Frank's decision was based on the confidence that we are a good team that can go toe-to-toe with any other team and not on the basis that we're a mid-tier team that might actually have to put in that extra bit of effort against certain teams. Bless him for having confidence, and setting an expectation bar for the players, but, um, we just aren't at that point yet.

    I certainly hope the blind-faith expectation mentality changes by the time we play Seattle, because after the drought of the Brimstone Cup, beating Seattle is next in line.

  • Palmer really cannot mark a man and has no sense of what might be going on behind him when he turns. He is constantly caught ball watching and letting his man go. I can see why he does not start. Ugh!!!

  • In reply to Krasov:

    And don't forget! Every great offensive run he makes down the right side seems to end with a cross to the far sideline, overshooting everyone.

    I agree. It's not too hard to figure out why he hasn't started as much this season.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I'm willing to argue that a little bit of that is rust from not regularly starting this season. When Palmer was a regular starter, he could ping those crosses in far more accurately, and when he was in form he could place them better than Anibaba did when here, or Gehrig has this season.

  • You can tell which players are quality and which are just journeymen. We have very few quality players. Players that sell tickets. I've been really impressed with Jones on the wing, and Accam and Shipp. Polster shows promise, but beyond that, it's journeymen. Maloney may yet come on and show us something, but until he can get a corner in like Shipp, he shouldn't be taking them. Still yet to show DP value. I see little value in Big Red. He just seems like a guy thrown out there. Maybe he just doesn't belong at CB, but I want to see some tight marking in there and banging, and its just never there. This quality of player is why its hard to put people in the seats. High school kids make better crosses than Palmer. Just amazing some of these guys got to this level.

  • Yallop should have only replaced Maloney on Wednesday. All the other moves were him trying to be some tactician and hurt the team. Now we won't have Accam or Maloney and he will have to tinker with the lineup again. I don't even want to know what Saturday's lineup will look like.

  • Accam will be there tomorrow.

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