Fire 3 Red Bulls 2 -recap and ratings

MLS is hard to figure sometimes and the Fire are even more perplexing. After defeating front running FC Dallas at Toyota Park on August 2, Chicago proceeded to drop two games to Philadelphia and another to Western Conference bottom dwellers Colorado. The New York Red Bulls entered this game riding a five game unbeaten string, rested from a long break, and looked poised to overtake DC United at the top of the East with games in hand.

None of that mattered, as the Fire looked more like the team that rekindled hope against FC Dallas than the one that squashed it against the Union and Rapids. The Fire were the better side for most of the match and once again created numerous opportunities to score. This time they cashed in on those chances with Gilberto and a revitalized Kennedy Igboananike doing a bulk of the damage.

With the win the Fire moved to within two points of sixth place Montreal, but the Impact now have three games in hand. The playoff math still says they're alive but the reality is that they're still at the bottom of the league, even with tonight's three points. Chicago sits in the same position as Philadelphia, Orlando City, and New York City FC above them. All four teams are hoping that Montreal collapses and that may not be too far fetched considering reports that playmaker Ignacio Piatti will miss the next 4-6 weeks due to injury.

The Fire can continue to hope but they'll need to put together a long string of victories to have a chance. They'll face a struggling Orlando City side on Saturday night and will have this same Red Bulls team twice more in the last eight games. New York may not look as lethargic the next time around.

Player ratings

Sean Johnson (5.5) - The Fire actually did a good job of limiting New York despite the two goals allowed. The first goal came on a penalty kick and the second should not have counted as the Red Bulls executed a trick play from a corner kick that caught the defense off guard. The goal should not have counted as Lloyd Sam touched the ball several times on the play before Sacha Klejstan picked it up.

D Matt Polster (6) - Still at right back even after a mistake on Saturday night but this game was better. Passing was good out of the back and his play to pressure Grella taking the ball away directly led to the first Fire score.

D Jeff Larentowicz (5) - Slipped, fell, and grabbed a hold of Mike Miazga's jersey on a corner kick in the 10th minute which earned him a foul in the box and a penalty call. He was solid after that however, as New York only had two shots on target for the entire night.

D Eric Gehrig (6) - Key blocks and last ditch tackles helped the defense limit a potent New York attack.

D Joevin Jones (6) - Completed all 24 of his passes according to Opta and did well to limit Sam on the outside. Left the match late with an injury which throws his status for Saturday into question.

M Patrick Nyarko (6.5) - A great finish in the 42nd gave the Fire a lead. Active on the outside and made the left side of New York's defense work.

M Michael Stephens (7) - Won't get much attention because he didn't score the goal but two fantastic sequences earned him assists. The first assist was a well executed chest pass from a difficult angle and tight space that found Nyarko for the first Fire goal in the 42nd. A perfectly placed ball over the top to Accam sent him off to the races and led directly to the game winning goal in the 73rd. High quality play all around from Stephens will make it tough to get him out of the line-up and begs the question as to why he hasn't seen more time this year.

M Razvan Cocis (6) - Passing wasn't pretty at times but the effort was high. New York won the possession game overall (56-44) but the Fire had the edge in the first half (51-49) and held their own against a very good NY midfield.

M David Accam (6.5) - Just too much for Conor Lade to handle on the outside for most of the night. Lade needed help and that opened up space. His assist on Igboananike's goal was the difference on the scoreboard although passing could have been better at times.

F Gilberto (6.5)  - Started off a little slow but once he got into the flow he was very good. His two assists in the first half showed were his value will come. In combination and decision making in the final third he was a step above what the Fire have seen from DP's this season. Also had a shot cleared from the line by Robles kick save in the 28th. Catch his post game comments here.

F Kennedy Igboananike (7) - Took his first chance very well and the result was a goal in the 22nd. The second goal may have been mishit slightly but it ended up in the net regardless. He was aggressive and looking to make things happen whenever the ball came near him. He's finally several notches above where he was at the beginning of the season but can he do it consistently? He talked about confidence in his post game interview.

F Jason Johnson (5) - Entered the match for Gilberto in the 62nd. Earned a corner kick in the 66th but otherwise quiet.

M Harry Shipp (6) - Replaced Nyarko in the 72nd. Started the play for Stephens which led to the game winning goal.

D Lovel Palmer (5) - Replaced Jones at left back due to a groin injury in the 76th.

Filed under: 2015 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • Quality goals and quality assists. This was a very good game to watch all around. Yes, they are maddening. The team can play so well, and then play just as poorly. Maybe Saturday, beyond the "black out," gave them a feeling of desperation and fight. Playoffs or not, it might be an interesting end to the season. Unfortunately, it also might give a false sense of being on the right path.

  • In reply to Gladbach:

    Igboananike's lack of celebration after the first goal showed that sense of desperation - instead of doing his backflip, he dug the ball out of the net and ran it to the center circle.

    When you're reading the tea leaves as a fan, things like that and the response of Accam to the loss on Saturday are all you have. I still think the season's lost, but I like that the guys are showing some passion and urgency.

    And while the second game vs Philly felt like a loss, the team should be given credit for pulling out the dramatic stoppage time tie.

  • The Maloney transfer is official.

    Here's a quote from him in the Fire's release.....

    “This was a very difficult decision to make but one that I felt I needed to make for various reasons," Maloney said. "I’d like to thank Andrew Hauptman and Frank Yallop for the initial hard work they put into bring me to Chicago in January. Although my time at the club was brief, I feel very fortunate for the experience to play for the Chicago Fire and would like to thank in particular my teammates for the time I spent with them and hope that in the future the club can become successful on the pitch once again."

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    When will Shaun Maloney appreciation day be next year?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    August 27th?

  • Who knew Gilberto was the play maker we needed? He was quiet a bit early, but like you said his combination play was a pleasant sight. Setting up two goals and should have buried a header from the corner.

    And the finishing from Iggy? More of that please. I dont think its a coincidence that you see this team play its best when putting numbers forth or playing with a lead. Accam and Iggy both can stretch the D and catch them as they push up the field.

    All that said, playoffs are a stretch but winning builds momentum and changes culture. Win as much as possible leading into next year.

  • I feel like for each win this season, there has been an extra exertion of effort for the entire match. That said, it seems like they have not been able to sustain that game-in and game-out and the games they haven't have been the ones we lost.

    Therefore, I'm relishing every moment of our one-game win streak.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    I'm feeling good now but I knew they would win and prolong the agony. Talk to me again after this Saturday's drubbing down in Orlando.

  • Guys. Old Mkey was a ton better than old seawny

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    Typos?

  • We like the Bulls at times win against the teams that are tops in the league and lose to the teams that are at the bottom of the league, like us currently.
    Yallop playing players out of position is hurting the team badly, but so is not having the needed depth to compete and hold our spot at the top, instead of the cellar of the league!
    Polster is doing great and I love seeing him with our Romanian CM but then where do you put Shipp? Shipp shouldn't be a winger that is where Accam and Nyarko on either side is best.
    I like the starting group we had even if Polester was a RB which he isn't, but the kid needs to keep starting games which then leads to playing guys out of position. We are deep in midfield and forward and very shallow with defenders! We knew we were weak from the summer of last year and then traded away Anibaba and Berry for Seattle's high priced garbage and gave Soumare a big contract! Then we bring BIG RED a decent CM into CB!
    Who knows where we would be with a decent back line right now with US National teamer S. Johnson between the posts! We can't keep making these huge wholesale player adjustments each year...we are starting to click just need a good CB and RB now.

    Gilberto seems good in the final 1/3 where we stuggled to put the ball in the net...Stephens has great ball passing ability and had some nice assists last night!
    Kennedy and Accam are coming around...even if we don't make the playoffs I hope we keep building on last night and our win against Dallas...and yes believe it or not we have the Brimstone Cup...well I think we do for our only game win against Dallas this year...LOL

  • I was thinking to myself last night that we have a workable core of players.

    That said, what formation would be best for this team and why?

  • Having a big body up top with Iggy clearly helped. Gilberto's passing was great to see. I would not mind seeing Polster and Stephens in the middle. Palmer's defense is pathetic. He cannot mark players making runs. The same thing happens every time. He marks a player, the player passes the ball, he watches the ball, the player runs past him, he fouls the player trying to catch up or a cross comes in to his mark who is wide open back side. Ugly scenarios all around.

    The rookies would be better than that. He almost gave the game away when he came on. I will take the win!!! Go Fire!

  • Brian C. the 4-4-2 formation is best for this team. The MF and FW Fire personnel is and has been suited for a 4-4-2. Johnson is the only target FW on the team with the size and athletic ability to handle a 4-3-3 formation. Unfortunately, he lacks the quality to be an effective one. It was ripping my guts out watching Iggy play up top as the lone striker the first half of the season. Look what he can accomplish as a secondary striker with a partner that has a little size and class. Accam's game is using his speed and skill to destroy defenders down the left wing. Nyarko is a magician "one on one" on the right wing. Both wingers can pass and score. Did it have to take 24 games for Yallop to see this. Couldn't Yallop see that the 4-3-3 formation wasn't working and pick up a target forward of Gilberto's ability. Pick up a winger with size and pace like Nyarko. Why the hell did Yallop keep trotting out Maloney and Shipp out in the forward position. Those two guys added nothing to that position. I know nothing about soccer and I could see that after the second game. The defense looked great because the offense was so dominating on the other end and it was against the best team in the MLS not named the Galaxy. I just hope Yallop continues to trot out this starting eleven for the last nine games because last night was awesome. And when Yallop gets let go this year, I hope we get a coach who is dedicated to a 4-4-2 formation and keeps this core up top. The Fire can get a couple of quality CBs in the offseason with the Maloney money and trade Harry Shipp for a kick ass right back. Let Shipp go and blossom into fine CM because Gilberto, Iggy, Accam, and Nyarko are something special, but only in a 4-4-2.

  • In reply to tomwhitt:

    Let's not jump to crazy conclusions and say that Gilberto and Iggy are something special. Gilberto has played in one match. He played well but it was also only one game. Iggy has played pretty well recently but he is also the same player that we all couldnt wait to get rid off a month ago. I would love them to both succeed but the thought of them both being the starting forwards for next year does not make me very excited. Id rather see Magee in there somewhere.

    Trading Shipp, who is a young attacking central midfielder, would be a huge mistake. I would also not be surprised if Yallop did that because he doesnt really know what he is doing.

    They did play well yesterday and were good on the counter. If they do end up playing a 4-4-2, they need to make sure that they stay organized when they are defending so they can make sure that they counter is still effective.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    With this 4-4-2, I could see the utility of having Shipp as that sub that comes on when a tactical/formation shift is required.

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    Why do I feel like the last game was a complete mistake in terms of lineup? Yallop's comments were such that it was almost a 'I told you so' like he's been waiting for 2 seasons to have the right pieces to field that lineup, finally. As if this has been his master plan all along?

    Yet I get the feeling that we can chalk this up to playing the odds and after two dozen different lineups something finally worked by complete dumb luck. I give all the credit to the players on the field for that last performance.

  • In reply to Jeff S:

    I haven't bothered to listen to or read Yallop's post-game comments ever since the USOC debacle. I have no intention of changing that. Until the team is a consistent winner, nothing he says really matters anymore.

  • Matt Polster has received a call up to the US U-23 camp ahead of qualifying for the Olympics. He will miss the Montreal game next weekend.

    David Accam has also been called by Ghana and will miss that game.

  • More call-ups

    Joevin Jones and Daneil Cyrus have been called in for T&T's friendly against Mexico next Friday. They will also miss the Montreal game.

    Collin Fernandez, Cam Lindley, and Mauricio Pineda have also been called in by the US U-20s.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Great for these guys. Too bad for the Montreal game.

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