After last weekend's four goal defensive meltdown against the Montreal Impact, Frank Yallop tried a different look along the back line with Daneil Cyrus and Ty Harden both making their Fire debuts. Predictably, the results weren't any different. The Fire squandered a two goal lead and another decent effort against the best team in the Eastern Conference because they simply aren't very good defensively. No matter who lines up in the back, defense will need to be the focal point of any improvement this coming offseason.
Next season is essentially here, however. The Fire's 15th loss not only leads MLS in that category but it is the low water mark for defeats in one season in club history. These last two months should be used to weed out who returns for another rebuilding year in 2016. The Fire had a nearly full strength squad for this match and once again failed to do much better than play just well enough to lose. The pretense of playoff hopes should be long gone. They realistically have been for some time now.
Six games remain.
That's in the season, and in the Fire careers of several.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - Credited with four saves although he didn't have much to add to the highlight reel in this one despite New York taking 16 shots. It's hard to fault him for any of the three goals but that GAA isn't going to be helped by this back four.
D Joevin Jones (5) - Back after missing time on international duty. Just not at the same level he was earlier in the season.
D Jeff Larentowicz (4.5) - He's been serviceable enough but he's fighting losing battle. Every mistake he makes is magnified because no one covers for errors. After vacating his spot unnecessarily in the 38th, he couldn't get back quickly enough to stop Grella's shot from finding the back of the net. He was also left to dry on the first goal. Did convert another spot kick though.
D Ty Harden (4) - The journeyman defender got his first start and appearance for the Fire since being acquired for Amarikwa via trade. He played himself well out of position on both of New York's first half goals by stepping too far up the field for no particular reason. His ability to get lost resulted in Larentowicz getting beat with no cover.
D Daneil Cyrus (5) - Made his Fire debut at right back and had a few moments but it was pretty clear that he's a center back that can play right back occasionally, rather than the other way around.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) - Not nearly as active as he typically is but New York controlled a whopping 68% of the possession so there wasn't much to do but wait for counters.
M Michael Stephens (5) - Credited with an assist for the long ball over the top after a corner kick was cleared setting Accam off for his goal. There was also the unnecessary grab of Sam's shoulder in the 70th minute which forced referee Armando Villareal to blow his whistle. The penalty kick call may have been weak but Stephens forced the call with the unneeded grab.
M Matt Polster (5) - Back in his natural position. Played acceptably against New York's difficult midfield but there was that huge possession disparity and the usual wide open gaps to be found in front of the back four. Will miss the next match due to yellow card accumulation.
M Harry Shipp (5) - Really not just more than another player on the pitch at this point in the season. His effectiveness has waned considerably since the first two months of the season.
F David Accam (6) - Completely undressed Conor Lade on his way to beating Robles in a spectacular run for the fire's second goal. Also embarrassed Kemar Lawrence with an ankle breaking move in the 36th but his shot was wide. Created another chance in the 51st by chasing down a ball that appeared destined to cross the end line. He was quiet from that point on however.
F Kennedy Igboananike (5.5) - Got the benefit of the doubt by drawing a weak penalty call against Perrinelle in the 14th. Had a chance in the 51st but his shot was blocked after Accam created something from nothing to cause a failed clearance. Left the match in the 61st with a calf strain.
F Mike Magee (5) - Replaced Igboananike but just didn't factor into much over 29-plus minutes.
M Razvan Cocis (5) - Subbed in for Stephens in the 72nd. The match had devolved into "whatevering" at that point.
M Jason Johnson (5) - Came into the match in the 80th for Nyarko. Rolled any easy attempt at Robles in the 88th.