Ante Razov was inducted into the Ring of Fire in a halftime ceremony. He was joined by club legends Peter Nowak, Lubos Kubik, Frank Klopas, and Peter Wilt on the pitch at Toyota Park and the Fire defeated the New England Revolution 3-1.
For at least one night in 2015, all was right in the world for Fire supporters.
After a few rough moments in the first half, the Fire came out and played a solid second forty-five minutes taking advantage of New England mistakes to take the lead. This time they even managed to hold on. The Revolution are headed to the playoffs but lost an opportunity to secure that ticket this weekend as the Fire turned in another win at home against one of the more talented teams in the Eastern Conference. The victory added some confidence in the locker room and showed that players haven't given up on the season although there's not much left to play for other than pride.
"It's confidence and it's also frustration, because we can beat teams like that," said Harry Shipp after the match. "We don't bring that same performance consistently week in a week out. We have the pieces, when we put them together we can be a successful team in this league and it's just a matter of doing it week in and week out."
The Fire have some pieces in the attack and three that are expected to be contributors in 2016 all tallied goals in this match. David Accam, Gilberto, and Shipp converted for the Fire. There will be much work to do to correct the defensive problems that were still evident at points in this game and another quality central midfielder is probably a necessity but on one of the few nights that supporters went home content this year there were some positives that weren't spoiled by collapse.
David Accam talked about hopes for next season as well.
GK Jon Busch (6.5) - Credited with four saves. Three of those were high quality stops. The best was a denial of Juan Agudelo's shot in the 66th that should have tied the game. Agudelo and Rowe may have botched the chance in trying to get to cute after the center backs where beaten but Busch came up big. One minute later he stopped Rowe on another good chance.
D Lovel Palmer (5.5) - Failed to close down Tierney on the cross that led to the Revolution goal but otherwise a decent game. Fagundez did not factor into much from his side.
D Jeff Larentowicz (5) - Chemistry doesn't seem to be there between the team captain and Cyrus but there hasn't been much time to get accustomed yet either. New England had several looks that could have led to more.
D Daneil Cyrus (5) - Beaten to the ball by Agudelo in the 32nd for the only New England score. Hasn't shown much yet this season.
D Joevin Jones (6) - As Bliss points out in his post game comments, Jones was closer to the player that he was in the first half of the season than he has been in a while. Very active in the first half and contributed after moving into midfield in the second half.
M Patrick Nyarko (5.5) - Created some chances and had two shots of his own. Passing at 55% could have been better.
M Michael Stephens (6) - The Fire won the central midfield battle against the formidable New England combination of Nguyen, Caldwell, and Jones. Stephens said he was laying with a bad cold but still turned in a good effort.
M Razvan Cocis (6) - Stepped up nicely to stop a handful of Revolution passing sequences. The Fire won the possession battle for one of the few times this season (52-48) and completed 77% of their passes. Cocis was at 78%. Went off with an ankle knock in the 81st.
M David Accam (6) - Tied the match in the 51st minute after blowing by several defenders and showing some strength in fending off Jose Goncalves before beating Shuttleworth with the shot. Accam is handful for every defender.
F Harry Shipp (6.5) - After a quiet first half, Shipp stepped up his game in the second. Farrell presented the opportunity by misplaying the ball but Shipp applied the pressure and converted the chance in the 59th to provide the game winner. Accam did most of the work but he also got an assist on the first score. Turned in a productive run after being given the chance to play centrally. Didn't have many touches but completed 93% of his passes.
F Gilberto (6.5) - Put the game away in the 86th when his turn around shot found its way into the net. Also hit the post on two other occasions. Completed 85% of his passes and continues to look like a main piece of the puzzle in 2016. That's probably bad news for Kennedy Igboananike, who did not play for a second consecutive match.
D Patrick Doody (5.5) - Replaced Shipp in the 72nd and moved Jones into midfield. Doody looks to be a player who can contribute next season at left back.
M Matt Watson (6) - Came on for Cocis in the 81st. Got by Nguyen in the box and set up the third goal. His pass was deflected by Jermaine Jones and ended up at the foot of Gilberto, who didn't miss.
Congrats to Kevin Egan
This match was the last Fire broadcast for TV analyst Kevin Egan, who has taken a position with BeIN Sports in Miami. Egan has been a solid contributor to the Fire community for the last three plus seasons and was always available for fans and Fire Confidential. Good move for a good guy.