New York City FC 4 Fire 3 - recap and ratings

The 2016 season is off to an inauspicious start following a successful preseason that fostered some positive sentiment. A questionable goalkeeping change and an even more dubious team defensive performance left the Fire with a loss to another side attempting to recoup from a disastrous 2015.

Former Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson was given the nod in goal over Sean Johnson in what Veljko Paunovic called a "day by day move" after a good outing against the Timbers to close the Simple Invitational tournament. He didn't have much help from a back line and midfield that hasn't played together for more than a few weeks. New York City FC's press exploited that, particularly in the first half. Paunovic said after the match that Lampson "did very well" despite the results.

The Fire created enough chances to win or tie this game but that shouldn't be any consolation against a team that they should have been able to beat at home. NYCFC struggled as badly as the Fire did defensively although they did control possession over the course of the match by a wide 60-40 margin. Passing was not very good overall for the home team either with a meager 65% accuracy total after ninety minutes.

Chicago won't have the positive vibes of preseason to fall back on if they fall into yet another early season hole. It's only one game, and the goal barrage may have provided some entertainment, but the need for improvement is obvious.

They'll have a chance to regroup on Friday in Orlando. The Lions scored twice in stoppage time to draw 2-2, against a 10-man Real Salt Lake to open their season.


Player ratings

GK Matt Lampson (4) - Paunovic is faced with his first big decision of the early season after choosing Lampson over Sean Johnson for the opener. Lampson did nothing to quiet the first guessers with a howler of a start. The main reason for choosing Lampson apparently was because of his distribution and ability to help play the ball out of the back. The wind was somewhat of a factor in the first half but that part of his game was lacking over the first 45. There was also that "attempt" to stop Shelton's shot on the third NY goal. He did have a good save in stoppage time, so there's that.

D Brandon Vincent (4) - Lost Shelton, resulting in that third goal. Sucked in on the fourth goal. A few decent crosses but plenty of room to improve.

D Joao Meira (4) - His failed clearance in the 30th minute resulted in a boot to Michael Harrington's face and the second NYCFC score. Everyone seemed lost on the fourth goal.

D Johan Kappelhof (4.5) - No one on the starters on the back line wearing red distinguished themselves. Nice stop on Diskerud late and a chip in the 67th from a loose ball almost found the goal.

D Michael Harrington (4.5) - Moved into midfield when the Fire shifted to a 3-5-2 formation to start the second half. No glaring individual lapses but the entire defense struggled for most of the match.

M Matt Polster (4) - As talented as Polster is, one of his drawbacks last season was the inability to pick and choose when the right time to commit forward should be. Lunging into space, leaving voids in front of the back line was an issue last season and it surfaced again today. Charged upfield with defenders behind him to get a piece of the ball in the 10th minute while his mark was left unattended. No one picked up his mark, Tommy McNamara, who found acres of space and plenty of time to put NYCFC ahead with a golazo as a result. Collapsed to the ground in the 64th after getting beat by McNamara, who crossed the ball into the box finding Diskerud wide open for the eventual game winner.

M Razvan Cocis (4) - Settled in behind Polster during his run up in the 10th but didn't get over in time to cover McNamara. Also lost on the Diskerud goal in the 64th. Did well to score with a goal of his own in the 19th minute, as the Fire caught NYCFC playing a high line.

M Arturo Alvarez (4.5) - Assisted on Cocis' goal but can be seen jogging in the vicinity as McNamara sauntered through a vacant midfield to score his goal. Did contribute with some decent combination play. Corner kick duties where fair. Handball and PK call in the 71st came from corner kick chance.

M Kennedy Igboananike (5.5) - Scored the Fire's second goal in the 49th and provided some energy although playing out wide isn't ideal for him.

M David Accam (6) - Scored the third goal on a PK and created and assisted on Igboananike's tally. Created numerous chances but failed to finish on a few. His pace alone results in nightmares for defenders and chances for the Fire but finishing has to be better from those opportunities.

F Gilberto (5) - Played the first 45 minutes before being substituted with an apparent calf knock. Should have done better with a chance in the 2nd minute. Also had another good opportunity catching Saunders out of his net in the 28th but his shot hit the side of the net. Could have had a PK call of his own in the 12th when a jersey tug from behind kept him from getting a shot off inside the area.

D Jonathan Campbell (5) - Replaced Gilberto and was slotted into the back in a 3-5-2 to begin the second half. Fair performance as the Fire were somewhat better defensively in the second half.

D Rodrigo Ramos (4.5) - Replaced Harrington in the 66th. A bad pass resulted in an NYCFC chance in stoppage time that resulted in Lampson's good save on the day.

M Joey Calistri (5) - Subbed in for Cocis in the 81st and had a few decent touches.

Filed under: 2016 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Based on his performance, there is absolutely no way Lampson can start the next match. He was absolutely dreadful for the entire match. The first half was one of the poorest displays from a keeper I have seen. The only thing he did was kick the ball 30 yards on goal kicks, sky the ball on balls passed back to him, or pick the ball out of the net in the first half. But did Pauno make a statement by selecting him and now he has to ride him out? I hope not, but I wouldn't be surprised if it happened.

    It was a lot of the same today. Chances created, but we are terrible at finishing them. Poor defending that ends up costing us the match. I dont think we will face a worse pair of centerbacks than we did today. NYCFC will struggle this season. Their defending was awful and it is kind of embarrassing that we did not beat this team.

    Trying to stay positive.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Yeah, that was the wrong move. Lampson may have looked good in preseason, but, in just about every way, I can't see him getting another start ahead of SJ.

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    Observations from the game
    - Lampson's distribution was awful, wind or no wind
    - Meira can't defend. He looks good with the ball at his feet and his passing was decent, but he can't defend
    - Cocis and Polster needed to do a better job of showing for the ball and providing an outlet when our defenders were under pressure
    - Most of the offense today was from long balls to the forwards. Team with a better defense will be able to stop that type of approach easily
    - Accam needs to learn how to finish. This game could have easily been 5-4 for the Fire.
    - Never let Accam take a corner kick again. Seriously, never!!! He hit the front defender on 5 of 6 corner kick attempts

    Only positive I can take from this game is that with the Fire's defense and speed up front, at least we'll see a lot of goals at Toyota Park this season.

  • Dropping SJ after 60 minutes of preseason was too clever by half. If good feet were more important to goalkeeping than shot-stopping we should have kept Mike Magee. I hope Pauno doesn't persist in this eccentricity.

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    One positive is that Accam was electric in creating opportunity after opportunity against a shaky NYCFC back line. Too bad Gilberto had the injury. He is a fun player to watch.

    Agreed on the comment that Accam ought not be the guy on corners. Was the wind having a major effect on his cks?

  • Was it a fun game to watch? Yea. Was it exciting and hectic at times? Yep. Unfortunately results is what matter. We've had very little of that these past few years.
    Lampson was an obvious mistake to start . Hopefully the CBs will work better together with more playing time . Vincent was beaten numerous times and misplayed the ball on a bunch of plays. Jones and Palmer could have done that also. Once Gilberto left it was back to long balls for Accam and iggy to run on . They will never win anything in the air. I did like Alvarez but there is no depth up front , if calistra , Ramos and Campbell are your subs off the bench , you're in trouble. Weird though I do see the fire improving , how much is the big question.

  • I thought Vincent deserved a 3. He was responsible for the first goal and probably could have stopped the 4th. He was caught ball watching on almost every attack. Maybe it was first game jitters, or maybe the speed of MLS is too much for him compared to college. Either way he has to do better. I hope he watches a lot of film today to learn that he has to be in a better position. The first goal was a comedy of errors. Also, I have never seen a player be able to control the flow of the game without moving more than 40 yards like Pirlo. The guy was just a fraction of himself, but the glimpses we saw yesterday were unreal. His free kick (saved by Lampson) was a laser. It was a treat to see that type of play.

    The difference in this game was the ability to of NYFC to complete passes when it counted and to win long balls when the Fire were caught pressing and were sucked up field. Don't get me wrong I want the Fire to press and fight for the ball up field. But if a guy like Shelton can out run and win balls time and again, we are in for a long season.

    Note to back line: Sorry guys, you need to take a look in the mirror and be a lot tougher. MLS does not call soft fouls so if you think a forward is pushing you around, get over it and fight back.

  • Agree on Vincent. Why get rid of Jones for this? Why is Doody not even on the bench? When is Gehrig coming back? Last year our offense couldn't score and our defense couldn't hold on to 1-0, 2-1 we have scoring but the defense can't even hold together a 3-2, 4-3 game!?

  • Hard to find a lot to be pleased about from this one:
    - Why SJ doesn't start is beyond me. It's almost as if Pauno is *trying* to eliminate any residual positive fan sentiment by applying the "clean slate" philosophy too rigidly.
    - Defense looked rocky, but that was to be expected given their lack of reps together.
    - Lack of finishing is more worrisome to me and seems to have carried over intact from last year. Against NYC's porous defense, we might get 10 good looks, but against better teams, these guys will get 2-3 if they're lucky. Gotta convert or we're dead meat.
    - I can file all that under work-in-progress, but the last ten minutes is what really disappointed me. For all NR's bluster about "we're going to play hard, rep the city" etc., they were completely without purpose, energy and initiative in the final ten minutes when the match hung in the balance.

    One positive: the new home kits at least looked the part, though I think we all agree the chest stripe should be thicker. (Sidenote: the NYC aways looked awesome, at least on the telecast.)

    Other positive: GR's coverage and writeups!

  • Totally agree that nothing was really working for us on Sunday. Not much I can say about the Fire's performance that hasn't already been said.

    On a different note, I don't understand how Gilberto doesn't earn a PK in the first half around the 11th minute (I think thats when it was). Just looking at pictures 4,5, and 6 above from that take down. How is that not denial of a goal scoring opportunity in the box and a red card to NYCFC? I didn't know pulling a played down by his shirt was now an acceptable defensive tactic.

  • In reply to edubs:

    that does look pretty bad in the pictures.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    That's a foul all day if it takes place in the middle of the field.

  • Guys pauno looked very much like Yallop. Wait until he goes against experienced mls coaches.

  • Unfortunately I wasn't able to watch the game yesterday. I turned on Comcast Sportsnet but they appeared to be showing an AYSO U-12 game instead.

  • Just a couple things that were the *most* horrible. Too many horrible things to mention:
    - The apparent trainee working the camera on the broadcast; jesus, don't they practice before opening day?
    - Defense an apparent downgrade from last year
    - Accam seems to be the new Oduro: blast it up to him, let him chase and get a 1-1 with the keeper. If you can get him there five times per game, he'll score one of them.
    - Everyone else

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    I guess we will have to wait on "improving the back four", and our "overall defense" before we can check off those two boxes! Never thought I would long for the return of Sean Johnson as I did Sunday, often do we score three goals at home and still lose,...I hope that TAM and his brother Allocation Money start on defense in the next couple of games!

  • In reply to Bob Bilocerkowycz:

    Score 3 at home and lose?

    It's only happened once before. A 4-3 loss to the Galaxy on May 30, 2001.

  • To make things even worse, Mike Magee has an absolutely dominant performance over the weekend for LA. Would have been nice to have him teamed up top with Accam Yesterday.

  • Big props to Sean King. Those are awesome pics. Damning to the referee who would say no foul. One thing I always wanted, and this is coming from a former referee (15 yrs), is for Referees to answer for some of their call/non-calls. It seems that they answer to no one (yes I know they are graded and there is a post game report and later in the week a referees' group debriefing) and the fans are left wondering what is and when is it a foul. All we're left cursing is the damn inconsistency that appears to vary greatly from ref to ref. I wish someone would ask that to the English head of MLS referees because the all-encompassing answer "in the interpretation of the referee..." is not sufficient! *OK venting done!

  • In reply to FireRog:

    Big fan of Sean's work.

  • In reply to FireRog:

    I thought the ref and assistants were horrible. I may have missed it, but at one point when NYFC headed the ball backward and Accam (or maybe Kennedy) intercepted the header, offsides was called. It was my understanding that even if you are offside, it is too bad so sad the the goof who sends a back pass right to you. I think Accam was also fouled at least once if not twice for penalty calls. I truly think MLS should give a few English refs a summer vacation and have them run a few clinics.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    As much as I hate to say it, I think that call was correct. Offsides is determined by where the player is at the the time the ball is kicked and does he gain an advantage. In this case I would say he gained an advantage by being in an offsides position at the time his teammate played the ball.

  • In reply to edubs:

    The other team headed the ball back (I think).

  • Well, that wasn't very encouraging, was it?

  • Lampson starting..goals 1 and 4 were well placed but poor effort on his part, goals 2 and 3 were pretty soft. Unfortunately dont think Johnson would have been any better. He is big and athletic and excels at making highlight reel reaction saves from close range, but other than that the rest his game is not where it needs to be for a 6th year veteran, especially judging crosses and closing the space on 1v1 tries. Sorry, there is a reason he isnt playing top flight overseas.
    On a positive note, I did enjoy seeing an energy from this team that was clearly missing most of last year. They did create chances and capitalized on NY mistakes.

  • In reply to Fireman1:

    One thing is clear though, Sean Johnson is miles better than Lampson. There is no way Pauno is happy with the way he played. Lampson was flat out terrible. Cant possibly start this weekend.

  • In reply to Fireman1:

    I would disagree that Johnson wouldn't have saved goals 1 and 2. I think Johnsons athleticism would have given him a better chance at blocking that ball, and I think he does it. The second goal ( If I remember correctly) was the 1 v 1 goal. That was completely poor positioning on Lampsons part. Look at the difference of how NYCFCs Keeper handled the 1 v 1 situations vs Lampson. I'd be willing to wager thats one of the first things Pauno tells him to work on in training. It was attrocious.

  • Guys before everyone gets their hopes high the new signing gossens scored a total of 1 goal last year. The situation seems very much like last year. Get the ball in the back and long kick it to the front and hope that accam can get under it. The back line actually seems a bit worse than last year and the mid field is just terrible.

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    The ratings for the defense I think are about spot on...Gehrig should be resting easy that his starting spot will still be there when he gets fully fit. I think the most disappointing thing about it is that all they preached about in preseason was solidifying the back line.
    The rating for Lampson is rather generous.
    The ratings for the midfield may actually be a bit harsh ( I think yea, they didnt cover the back well, but going forward, they were good).
    Also, people keep commenting on Accam's ability to finish. Yea, its not great but like I continually said last year, the bigger problem is that he tries to take the shots all himself from tight angles instead of crossing the ball to wide open teammates in the middle. There were at least 2 or 3 other situations where he had an easy cross to the middle like he did with Igbo, but elected to take the shot himself.
    Lastly, damn, do we need some depth.

  • In reply to Carl Miller:

    But N-Rod is pleased with the depth we already have.

  • Add Harry to the list of former Fire players that thrive on other teams. Magee had an MVP performance as well.

    I think if I'm an ambitious young player, maybe I get signed by the Fire and then leave after a couple of years. Seems to be a winning trajectory.

  • Of what use is depth when your starting 11 is the worst in the league?

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