During his days in San Jose, Frank Yallop was in charge of a team that became known for late game and stoppage time goals preserving points and sometimes stealing all three in heart-stopping fashion. Now the trend seems to be just the opposite of what occurred with the Earthquakes in 2012. Like some sort of Reverse-Goonies, the Fire have become alarmingly adept at finding incredible ways to mangle finishes and give away points at the end of matches.
"It felt like pretty similar to last year to be honest," said Yallop during his post game press conference. "At 2-1, I thought we were going to see the game out but we self destructed. And it was a tough thing to take to be honest. A tough one."
This game was certainly reminiscent of the array of late collapses last season. They've even found a new way to ensure that supporters leave Toyota Park with an inventive twist on frustration. This time two own goals, by the same player, served as the centerpiece for yet another night of missed opportunity.
The match started well enough for Chicago. While giving up possession to play the counter and attack Orlando City quickly on the outside, the Fire trailed in the possession battle by a wide margin in the first half but held a 12-3 advantage in shot attempts, and looked very dangerous in doing so. A fantastically executed set piece play from a short corner put the Fire up 1-0 in the 9th minute. Yet another failure in team set piece defending in the 40th minute resulted in a 1-1 tie at the half.
David Accam and Harry Shipp brought the entire crowd of 20,124 to their feet in the 51st minute with another well executed team goal that showed how well the Fire can play on a technical level. This team is capable of an electrifying and attractive style of soccer but the final few minutes of the match put the Fire's shortcomings on full display yet again. Another debilitating and agonizing late collapse with goals allowed in the 82nd and 86th minutes leaves everyone looking for answers.
There are no easy ones to be had.
The Fire dropped to ninth place in the Eastern Conference by the time the night was over. While 2/3 of the season remains, these are the type of matches (like the draw in New York and the loss at home to RSL) that playoff teams put away and teams that are left on the outside looking in always come to regret. At 4-7-2, the Fire should be better than their record shows. The continuation of the same types of mistakes and agonizing finishes indicates that they don't deserve to be.
GK Jon Busch (4.5) - Failed to come out and grab the ball from the corner kick on the first Orlando City goal. Indecision cost him and his finger-tip stop of St. Ledger's header caromed directly to Adailton's shin. Caught flat footed on the winning goal. Two quality saves in the 17th and the 39th were the highlights on his night. There wasn't much to be done with Larin's beauty in the 82nd.
D Lovel Palmer (5) - Started at left back and moved to the right in the second half. Still having issues in losing marks but his wasn't the biggest problem in this game.
D Jeff Larentowicz (4.5) - Appeared to slow down to attempt to play Rivas offside in the 86th but couldn't get back in time to help stop the cross that led to the game-wining/losing goal. Had a decent first half.
D Adailton (3) - Became the first player in MLS history to record two own-goals in one match according to ESPN. The first one could be excusable, since it was deflected on to his leg but the second offered no such relief. Instead of simply rocketing the ball over the end line for a corner kick, he softly tapped it toward goal. He was also involved the second goal, missing a tackle on Larin thereby creating the space for him to shoot.
D Eric Gehrig (5) - Started at right back and continues to show that he's minimally effective as a defender on the outside. He did help getting forward in the first half however.
M Matt Polster (5) - The Fire were playing to counter and attack quickly so the possession numbers on the night were heavily in favor of the visitors (63-37). Despite the numbers, the central midfield pair was active in the first half.
M Razvan Cocis (5) - Very good in the first half with numerous defensive break-ups of Orlando City attacks. Didn't contribute much in the second other than a blocked shot in the 68th. Laid off the pass to Accam in setting up the first Fire goal.
M David Accam (6.5) - One of the most electrifying players in MLS made his impact felt again with a goal and an assist. Also created numerous chances via his pace and dribbling ability in tight space. Showed that remarkable speed in he 28th when he came out of nowhere to claim a ball behind the entire back line.
M Joevin Jones (5.5) - Active in transition from a midfield spot in the first half. Changed sides with Accam on a few occasions. Moved to left back in the second half.
F Harry Shipp (6) - Assisted on Accam's goal in the 51st displaying his vision as a playmaker and passer but recognizing the open player in space in a position to score. Placed the ball perfectly. Also played a part in the first goal. He had some interesting things to say about this game and the Fire's troubles in the locker room.
F Kennedy Igboananike (6) - Scored his second goal of the season in the 9th minute to finish a beautiful sequence from the Fire. Also started the play that led to the second goal with an attacking run in the 51st. Unquestionably has won the starter's role for now.
F Quincy Amarikwa (4) - Entered the match for Gehrig in the 59th. More misplaced and unnecessary movement led to more ill-advised and selfish "shoot first" sequences with teammates open and available in the attacking third. Displayed a willful ignorance for the right play with an 85th minute ridiculous attempt from distance with Magee open and approaching the 18. Passing was also sub par again. This wall all capped off by an even more ridiculous two-footed tackle and yellow card in stoppage time. The clock has expired on Quincytime.
M Matt Watson (5) - Replaced Igboananike in the 77th minute. Started an attack that Amarikwa wasted with his shot in the 85th.
M Mike Magee (5) - Returned to action, replacing Polster in the 83rd. Didn't have many chances to get on the ball. Catch his post game comments on the Fire Confidential Facebook page.
Things don't get an easier for the Fire with a trip to New England next Saturday. This is the previously rescheduled game from earlier this season. The Fire will be without Shaun Maloney, David Accam, and Joevin Jones. All have been called by their national teams.