Fire 1 Sporting KC 0 - recap and ratings

The Fire were probably overdue for a few breaks and they got a few in 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City. An early Dom Dwyer goal was nullified by a questionable offside call and Jacob Peterson came within a whisker of tying the game in first half stoppage time when his shot caromed off the far post. Kansas City's head coach Peter Vermes also took issue with the restart by referee Nima Saghafi on the Fire's goal. There appeared to be some confusion as the whistle was blown more than once to open play.

After an hour and forty-five minute weather delay, the Fire once again gave up possession but also were composed enough not to allow the amount of space that was given to Toronto FC during Saturday's first half. Sporting held the ball for 64% of the initial 45 minutes but failed to register a shot on goal in six attempts.

The Fire also escaped a number of close calls on free kick opportunities and Sean Johnson delivered two key saves to run the team's unbeaten streak at home in regular season play to five games. They have also moved out of the Eastern Conference cellar and pushed the Columbus Crew to the bottom based on points-per-game.

Player ratings

GK Sean Johnson (6.5) - The saves against Brad Davis in the 80th and a bigger one to stop Dwyer's headed in the 87th salvaged the full points for the Fire. Johnson seems to excel at difficult saves and his contribution was on display here. Paunovic credited him with "saving" the team during post-game comments.

D Brandon Vincent (5.5) - Has some ups and downs but he was mostly better in this game. His pass on the restart in the 19th led to Cocis' run and the only goal of the match. Completed 12 of 19 pass attempts.

D Jonathan Campbell (6) - Led all players with 5 interceptions and a solid night against Kansas City attackers despite an overall 68-32 possession advantage for the visitors.

D Joao Meira (5) - Started at centerback to rest Kappelhof and contributed a key tackle in the 12th after Vincent lost the ball. His knack for silly fouls in dangerous areas almost cost the team on more than one occasion however.

D Michael Harrington (5.5) - A good run down the right side in the 8th minute led to a cross and a chance that was cleared by KC. Consistent link up play proved difficult for the Fire most of the night, Harrington completed 15 of 27 passes.

M Khaly Thiam (6) - The Fire gave up possession and shot attempts but the central midfield pairing did a decent enough job of closing space and limiting good looks. Thiam completed 24/33 passes which was well above the team average of 61%.

M Matt Polster (6) - His return to the line-up was evident with a bit more two-way play out of the center of the field than the Fire have gotten in his absence. Like Thiam, his pass completion rate of 23/34 was better than the rest of the side.

M Arturo Alvarez (5) - Struggled mightily on the offensive side of the field but did contribute something defensively. Shut down a good run by Medranda in the 40th.

M Razvan Cocis (6.5) - Notched the assist on a well placed pass in front of goal to de Leeuw and contributed defensively with 3 important blocked shots despite playing in the "playmaker" role. A big effort from Cocis was key in securing all three points.

M David Accam (5) - Not involved much as Kansas City made a clear effort to shut him down on the left side. Showed some frustration and moved to the right side to start the second half. A 58th minute shot on goal was handled easily by Melia.

F Michael de Leeuw (6.5) - The Fire have been missing a player with his knack for finding space in the box since Mike Magee's big year in 2013. He's already shown in his brief time on the field for the Fire that he will get himself into dangerous spots. His finish was a classic example of what he can provide. Movement off the ball is clearly a step ahead of his teammates.

M John Goossens (5.5) - Replaced Alvarez in the 68th. A combination play with de Leeuw and Accam almost resulted in a chance for him but led to a corner kick. Not many touches, but completed 3 of 5 pass attempts.

D Rodrigo Ramos (5.5) - Subbed in for Harrington in the 83rd as the Fire looked to hold on.

D Johan Kappelhof (5.5) - A late sub for de Leeuw in the 89th.


Nelson Rodriguez spoke to the television crew and reporters during the weather delay and addressed some questions regarding the club and transfer window possibilities.

  • Rodriguez is narrowing the field to find a replacement for Larry Sunderland in the Academy set up. He hopes to have an individual on board soon.
  • The Fire are looking for help in midfield and a veteran centerback to help in the rotation for Campbell and Kappelhof. The midfielder would ideally be one capable of being a "provider".
  • Rodriguez may move his goal of adding a DP in the January window to now if he can get some "cooperation" from the clubs currently holding contracts for potential targets. He indicated that some of the players he is considering have contracts that expire in 2017 and those clubs would need to find replacements if a move was made now.
  • The Fire are also looking for a move within the league and have had talks with a few teams about trades.
  • Rodriguez reiterated that the Fire need a "bigger personality" to step in.

Filed under: 2016 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • I liked de Leeuw's physicality. I see how he earned all those yellows and reds in Holland. It was nice to see that.
    And yes, Meira is definately showing himself to be a sloppy fouler. Mikulić (2011) - he stood out to me as someone who was good at getting away with fouls that were easily yellows.

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    Campbell was a stud last night. Solid brick wall defending, a few really good distributions going forward and even a little trickery/flair. In the back of my head i was still wondering if there was a little of a Friedrich/Berry thing going on where Kappelholf was making him look better than he is....welp, not wondering anymore, he played like a veteran. Then there is Cosis...33, no real flare or speed. On paper he should already be retired, yet every game, he makes his presence known. Thiam had a good game but Cosis still needs to be above him in the depth chart. Polster changes the hole feel of the midfield when he is in the game. His passing is crisp, fast and deliberate. It is so refreshing to see. The rest of the team needs to take lessons on how to make a ground pass from him. His passes actually roll or skid on the grass instead of bouncing everywhere. It was still far from a pretty game to watch, but I guess at least they got the points.

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    Also, do we really need another central defender? we have 4 pretty solid ones (Miera is good, just a liability as mentioned) not to mention I am sure others like Harrington or Polster could fill in in an emergency. I know others are not sold on him but i am not sure why they are not even mentioning Gehrig when talking about the rotation...

  • I thought Pauno's subs were well timed and all very effective. I thought the team played very well after Goosens came in and before De Leeuw went out. I think this formation and starting 11 can make waves:

    -----------------De Leeuw------------------

    * Cocis played well, but he is the most replaceable in this lineup.

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    In reply to Krasov:

    Currently, I would slot Cosis back for Thiam (although Thiam may have just had his break through game last night), move Goossens central, and put Igbo on the right with the stipulation that the front four can significantly overlap.

  • In reply to Carl Miller:

    Until Igbo puts shots consistently on frame, he stays on the bench for me. He works hard and is a team player, but he cannot shoot consistently. He also cannot hold on to the ball. I can see Goosens in the center though. I look at the rest of the roster and only see subs. Cocis has played consistently all year and is a smart player. His pass to De Leeuw isn't completed by the others.

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    He may not be a true #9, but De Leeuw already seems like a better #9 than Igbo. Better instincts and movement in the penalty area. I'm sure he would be even more dangerous playing alongside a true center forward, if we had a good one. We could also use more creativity in midfield - doesn't necessarily have to be a central player; we could be a team that gets its creativity from the wings, with a target striker up front and De Leeuw making runs into the box from a central attacking midfield position.

  • I'm liking DeLeeuw, and I'm sure that Rodriguez / Pauno are stoked that he scored in his first start. It still seems like we have some good offensive pieces - Goosens, DeLeeuw, Accam - that should be more of a threat than they are. Not sure we have the real wing threat that we need - Nyarko provided that in the day, but unless it's Ramos bombing up the wing we're lacking a real threat to stretch defenses in both directions and open up space in the middle. Accam has the greatest ability to do that but he prefers to drive into the middle towards goal.

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