This match was set up as a big test for the Fire. One of the better teams in the Eastern Conference would serve as a gauge for where they stand at this point in the season and a measuring stick for the new regime's rebuilding process.
Once again, results don't lie.
The Fire showed some improvement on the offensive side but the continuation of critical lapses at the most opportune times left them with an all too familiar feeling. What appeared to be a three point night turned into yet another disheartening draw that felt much more like a loss.
Teams control the ball far too long for Chicago to be really effective. New York was bound to break through at some point while holding 67% of possession throughout the match. The Fire appeared to run out of gas and sat back too often in the last thirty minutes and it once again bit them. A formation change in the first half caught the Red Bulls off guard and it led to a 2-1 lead at half time. There were even chances to extend the lead before another late equalizer doused any of the optimism generated after the first 45 minutes.
The test wasn't a complete failure, but it wasn't successful either. It was just more of the same.
GK Sean Johnson (4.5) - New York was held without a shot on target in the first half. Johnson appeared to hesitate in deciding how to handle Grella's cross in the 17th and it led to Polster's gaffe and an own goal. Even more maddening is the fact that New York only had two shots on goal for the entire match and ended up with two goals. Johnson has to be stronger on the first one.
D Michael Harrington (4.5) - Didn't contribute much in getting forward and somehow missed Bradley Wright Phillips in the middle of the box alone for the late equalizer.
D Johan Kappelhof (5) - Did a creditable job on BWP for the entire match.....up until the end when he was also in the vicinity of the unmarked striker.
D Joao Meira (5) - Left the match in the 43rd minute with an apparent hamstring injury. Started the match as Paunovic looks to keep players fresh with squad rotation.
D Rodrigo Ramos (5) - Involved a little in the first half but absent from the attack in the second.
M Khaly Thiam (5) - Appeared to drop deeper in front of the back four in the second half as the Fire went into a shell. 61% passing from a central midfielder just isn't good enough against a team like New York.
M Matt Polster (5) - The own goal was an obvious gaffe but he did atone somewhat with his header in first half stoppage time to give the Fire a lead. Like Thiam, 62% passing doesn't cut it.
M Arturo Alvarez (4.5) - Completed 9 of 14 pass attempts. Very little production from this spot.
M John Goossens (6) - Not exactly the perfect fit in a playmaking role but he's the Fire's best option. A perfect cross to find Polster at the back post gave the Fire a lead. He almost had another assist but a goal scoring chance was called back because of a foul. The assist almost excuses his ugly 7 of 19 passing numbers.
M David Accam (6) - Scored the Fire's first goal on a well placed shot from 23 yards out. Had a few other chances on counters but couldn't find the final pass or touch. Catch his post game comments here.
F Michael de Leeuw (5.5) - Got credit for an assist on Accam's goal. Completed 83% of his 18 pass attempts. which was easily the best ratio on the team. Didn't see much of the ball in dangerous areas.
D Jonathan Campbell (6) - Replaced Meira late in the first half and contributed several key blocks in the box. The Fire's best defender on the night.
M Razvan Cocis (5) - Came on for Alvarez in the 58th. Some decent combination play but fortunate not see straight red after a clumsy tackle attempt in the 76th.
M Nick LaBrocca (5) - Subbed in for Goossens in 82nd. He was Nick LaBrocca.
- Sources indicate that the Fire are close to signing Armenian forward David Arshakyan. The 21 year old striker is currently playing for Trakai in the Lithuanian first division. The Fire continue to look at other moves in and out of the league before Wednesday's transfer deadline.
- Other sources also tell Fire Confidential that former Fire defender Gonzalo Segares has resigned from his position with the club. Segares had served as an assistant in the Academy program since his retirement as a player following the 2014 season.
- Executive Director of Player Development, and a key figure in the Fire's youth development system, John Dorn also appears to be departing after 15 years of association with the Fire.
- The Fire are set to name a new Academy Director from outside of the organization, MLS, and the US. We'll have more on these developments upcoming.