Fire 0 New York City FC 0 - recap and ratings

The Fire have equalled the all-time MLS record for consecutive winless games on the road (27 ties the 08-09 New York Red Bulls) but the numbers aren't all bad after a 0-0 draw in New York City. The team's third consecutive clean sheet and 356 minute run without allowing a goal is the second longest such streak in club history. The current longest shutout string in team history, 395 minutes, was established by the 2009 team that advanced to the Eastern Conference Final.

Veljko Paunovic started the same eleven that took the field last weekend against Philadelphia and came away with another point on the road. The defense has certainly been upgraded but problems persist on the offensive side without David Accam on the pitch. The Fire managed a meager 8 shots attempted against New York City FC and none were on target. Other than the controversially disallowed goal in the 60th minute, they did not register one single shot on target. They were able to muster two with a man advantage for one half against the Union.

That sort of production isn't good enough to win many games but the clean sheets and tactical improvement from last season are reasons for some optimism.

The Fire may not be at a level where they can be considered challengers for a playoff spot because of the lack of production in the final third but the arrows seem to be pointed in the right direction. How long Paunovic and the Fire can keep grinding out unattractive results before some help arrives remains the question.

Player ratings 

GK Matt Lampson (7) - Forget the distribution and passing questions for this match. Lampson came up big on a few chances and didn't need the posts to help this week. Credited with 8 saves and some were pretty good. The diving stop of Villa's shot in the 29th was a good recovery after leaning in the wrong direction but 9 minutes later he denied Villa again after the forward found himself unmarked on a corner kick attempt. Stopped Villa yet again in the 83rd and and huge stop in the 84th denied him one more time. There were some shaky moments in a wild scramble in the 85th but the sequence ended with a good stop against Diskerud.

RB Rodrigo Ramos (6.5) - Another good showing from Ramos as he seems to be cementing the right back spot. Did well to stop Villa on a couple of runs down the right side in the first half. Passing at 19/30 could be better but he was involved positively on both ends.












CB Johan Kappelhof (7) - Named to MLS Team of the Week for his effort in the last match and he should get some consideration again. Kappelhof came up big to break up a handful of counter chances. Six interceptions, five clearances, and 21/29 passes is a god night.












CB Jonathan Campbell (6.5) - Making an early case for Rookie of the Year consideration with continued solid all around play. Seven clearances, two interceptions, no goals, although Villa did get behind him for the chance in the 84th.

LB Michael Harrington (6) - New York had some possession but didn't have much danger from the wings. Another good defensive team effort.

RM Arturo Alvarez (5) - A few decent moments in combination in the first half but the Fire couldn't stay onside early to capitalize. Wasted a clean look at goal in the 15th when he decided to one touch a pass instead of a shot. A free kick attempt in the 49th drew Saunders out deflected toward the net off of Gilberto. Connected on 17 of 24 passes but nothing was dangerous after the missed chance.












CM Michael Stephens (5.5) - The Fire completed 72% of their passes in this match and Stephens was better than average at 43 of 55, but there wasn't much getting forward. The team is missing a creative player in the middle of the pitch. Stephens call fill a roll but he's not a difference maker in that spot.

Attachment-1 (3)











CM Matt Polster (6) - New York didn't have the run of the midfield as they did in the first game between these two. Polster was more under control in this game and plays a big part in helping the back line shut down the area in front of goal.

LM Kennedy Igboananike (5) - The Fire had ten shot attempts and Igboananike had none of them although he did provide that cross that landed on Alvarez's foot for the wasted chance in the 15th. Still has issues with the ball at his feet, creating his own chances, and playing in combinations.

FW Razvan Cocis (5) - He's miscast in the advanced role he's been given in the last two matches. Plays a decent field game but doesn't have the pace or vision to produce as an underneath forward. The shot attempts from Fire forwards in the game are telling. Although 28 of 33 passing is decent, note the lack of action in the final third.

Cocis shots











Cocis passing











FW Gilberto (5) - Also note where the Fire's leader in shot attempts for this match originated his tries. Maybe it's the lack of service but Gilberto simply isn't providing enough.












RM John Goossens (5.5) - Replaced Alvarez in the 59th and provided some spark again although none of it was particularly dangerous this time. Would probably be better suited in the spot that Cocis occupied.

CM Nick LaBrocca (5) - Subbed in for Polster in the 81st.

FW Alex Morrell (5) - Came in for Gilberto in the 83rd.

Filed under: 2016 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • I didn't mind seeing the Cocis/Polster/Stephens mid again, especially away from home, and the game plan almost worked perfectly (other than a questionable, but likely correct-by-the-book, disallowed goal), but the Fire really need to figure something out with getting the forwards more involved.

    I'm sure it's more than a bit that the forwards are very underwhelming, but they also aren't getting the ball in promising positions very often. I'm not sure it's as easy as swapping in Goosens for Cocis or Stephens, but something needs to be done on the attacking side of the lineup in order to start scoring and earning some wins.

    In the meantime, I'll try to enjoy the clean sheets.

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    Cosis is a good CDM but I think he's very ineffective in the advanced mid role. Its not a knock on him but rather the lack of depth in the roster. Stephens on the other hand, at least IMO, has really made a difference in his two starts. He doesnt get forward too much but he helped out a lot on defense and has really been the team engine the last two games.

  • I like the fact that I see players improving (for the most part) each week. This week the forward players seemed (totally my impression) to get more touches. They just did not do very much with the ball mostly because they were in fairly bad spots. I think that Cocis has good skills and is more comfortable in the back but he adds a calmness to the attack that I think the Fire need. Goosens is strong on the ball and helps maintain possession. I would start him next week. I would like to see Polster venture forward a little more. If he gets free and can speed up his shot, I think he can score. He just needs to look for more opportunities. He often plays back when he could turn and go forward.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Agree 100% with your comments regarding Polster. I realize he's mainly supposed to stay back, but there are times where he could moved forward a bit more. I also would like to see him shoot more from the top of the box when he has a look. I know he has a nice shot from that distance, he just rarely uses it.

  • I don't think MLS can compete with what China is planning on doing.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    A lot of money being dropped over there but it's politically motivated. If/when the current President is no longer in power, the football rush could take a big hit there.

  • Does this concern anybody else?
    9 SOG in Game 1 and 5 since then.

    Games 2 thru 5
    Shots 32
    Shots on Target 5
    Shots off Target 17
    Blocked Shots 10

    Opponents games 2 thru 5
    62 Shots
    21 Shots on Target
    25 Shots off Target
    16 Blocked Shots

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Is it concerning? Yes. Is it surprising? No. Of those 9 SOG in Game 1, five came from Accam. Since the 32nd minute of Game 2 the team either has been playing with 10 men or he has not played. I think it just highlights what we all know already. With the current roster Accam is the only player capable of consistently generating an offensive threat.

  • In reply to Marlin:

    I'd like to see our offense test the keeper more often, even if they are weak shots. Every time opposing defenses shut us down, it only serves to build their own confidence.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    The Fire's attacking stats are very concerning. They won't win games without improving those numbers. Accam is part of that, but they have to learn how to play without him. He will be sold in the next year, I'd almost guarantee.

    The opponents stats aren't as concerning. 21 shots on target for the opponents is pretty rough, but there was 1 goals out of that. Only a handful were high percentage shots too. The defensive has done a reasonably good job limiting quality chances for the other team. The Fire can win without improving those numbers.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    I have to agree with this. The lack of solid opportunities on goal is disappointing. I also believe this can change this season - I think Gilberto is in a slump, in part because we've played such a defensive style as Paunovic focuses on getting the backline in order. Also, NR and Paunovic must be well aware of Accam's value internationally and should be planning a successor. If he can get some more Ghana caps he should be able to get a work permit in England, which would put the Fire in place to get a nice transfer fee to spend. The tricky thing would be getting a player as dynamic as Accam, and hopefully a little more durable.

    After the horrible defensive showing of the past seasons, especially 2014 & 2015, it's great to see the team string a few clean sheets together.

  • Did anyone else see the news that Mikey Lopez and Khiry Shelton were suspended by Viera before the match for posting a video where they (almost) trash talked the Fire? It was pretty lame... but considering how Shelton torched us in Chicago, and that White had to pull out of the lineup during warmups, it makes you wonder what the game would have been like with NYCFC at full strength.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    You think it was lame that a coach punished young players for disrespectful comments on social media? I thought that was actually a pretty cool thing for Viera to do. I wouldn't want Polster to come out and say something like Shelton did. Those types of comments make it seem like you're over looking an opponent. The table in the East will show you that no opponent in MLS should be over looked.

  • In reply to AJties:

    Did you see the video? Basically Shelton said that he didn't care who NYCFC was playing, they were going to win.

    I didn't think that punishing them was lame. I just didn't think that their comments as such - the words from their mouths - were that disrespectful - it was more their attitude. On Extra Time Radio, the guys suggested that Viera was seeking to clamp down on their egos as young guys playing under Viera alongside Villa, Pirlo, and (almost) Lampard. It's definitely a slippery slope and if he doesn't do something at the beginning of the season as a new coach, he would have problems later in the season. And they as players will have problems later in their careers.

    Take a look at both sides of the the table and you'll find supposedly good teams - Columbus, RBNY, Seattle, Portland - at the bottom. I think that's exactly what NYCFC fans must be thinking - that they need their young players in every game, especially since they haven't managed to get a win at home so far, even with the supposed advantage of their smaller pitch.

  • From FC Groningen's official site, club President says Michael de Leeuw has turned down their contract offer and opted for a new adventure with a new club in another environment.....

    Headed for Chicago.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I have to give kudos to both NR & VP. In my opinion they have done a good job of shaking things up and bringing in new blood within realistic limits. I have to imagine it wasn't necessarily easy to convince de Leeuw and Thiam to leave established environments for a last place club in the MLS.

  • In reply to Marlin:

    I'm going to sound like I'm advertising Extra Time Radio in my comments, but I just listened to their Monday pod last night with Alvarez and Kappelhof. Kappelhof said that at first he had no intention to leave Europe, but that he was convinced for professional and personal reasons. NR and VP covered the professional side with their persistence, and he also wanted to live in the US with his family. Thank goodness he doesn't have a fixation with NY or LA - or he overcame it. Kappelhof also talked with Collins John before accepting Chicago's bid.

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