Fire 3 Impact 0 - recap and ratings

The Fire's two-year long road nightmare is finally over. A resounding and well executed 3-0 win over the Montreal Impact was easily the team's best overall performance of a season that has been short on highlights and tangible progress. There was finally some action to justify Veljko Paunovic's weekly optimism. An early lead which wasn't immediately surrendered along with a composed and professional finish on the road can be something to build on.

"If I tell you that the playoffs are more believable now, I would lie. Because you always believe. We knew it was a matter of time that it was going to break. And we worked hard, we were challenged so far and still I'm going to repeat, we haven't done anything," said Paunovic after the match. It's a very small step but it's very important and something that we will continue to build on our team and our style of play which has to improve, I think today was the perfect game for us, so far the best in the season for sure but a long way to go."

The playoffs still aren't happening, but if the Fire can move forward from this victory by exhibiting the same type of commitment to a team game over the last eleven matches that they did in this one, perhaps there will be some hope for supporters to cling to. They'll have another test at home on Wednesday against a Los Angeles Galaxy side that lost 1-0 at New York City.

Player ratings

GK Sean Johnson (6.5) - No gaffes, no misjudged balls in the box, no hesitation to control the area. Five saves and a clean sheet. The 33rd  minute stop of Drogba's free kick attempt and the 38th minute denial of Piatti's shot were very good.

D Johan Kappelhof (6.5) - A good shift at right back for Kappelhof even if the passing efficiency wasn't always there. Saved a chance in he 35th by cutting off Mallace on his way to goal after getting by Meira. Involved in the play for the second goal.

D Jonathan Campbell (7) - Led all players with five tackles, three blocks, and four clearances. Drogba had a few moments but he was essentially kept in check throughout the night.

D Joao Meira (6.5) - Did well to team with Campbell on keeping the Fire's penalty area difficult to break down. Led the team with 32/34 passes completed but did find himself trailing on several on Montreal's best chances.

D Brandon Vincent (6) - Didn't give up much in a good defensive team effort. Wasn't as involved getting forward in this match as he has been recently.

M Matt Polster (7) - Center midfield was arguably the key to this win. With Polster playing under control and shutting down the area in front of the backline, Piatti found little room to operate. The possession statistic was even relatively close in this match. Montreal held a 54-46 advantage. Completed 30 of 40 passes. There was some comical white-flag defending near the end of the game by the Impact was his goal was very well taken. For the first time this season, we saw the version of Polster, who at his best was a top rookie-of-the-year candidate in 2015.

M Razvan Cocis (6.5) - Along with Polster, he helped the Fire finally win a battle in midfield. Completed 26 of 31 passes in 58 minutes of play.

M John Goossens (5.5) - Relatively quiet in this one with not a whole lot of touches. Completed 14 of 20 passes in 72 minutes.

M Michael de Leeuw (6.5) - Playing behind Solignac, he didn't get many individual chances but he did contribute again in team play. Started the counter attack that led to the first goal by getting the ball forward and springing Accam. Fed the cross in to Alvarez that resulted in the second goal.

M David Accam (6.5) - His run out of the Fire's end in the 15th set up Solignac's goal drawing defenders to him. His shot three minutes later almost doubled the lead but hit the post. In the right spot to get credit for the second goal. Had a handful of counter attack chances thwarted.

F Luis Solignac (7) - Tilted the game in the Fire's favor with a fantastic finish in the 15th. A good move to get free down the right side in the 29th minute ended with a cross attempt that narrowly missed de Leeuw in front of goal. Set up Accam for a chance in the 50th. Completed 18 of 23 passes. Not as active in the second half until late but his early play set the tone and gave the Fire some much needed confidence.

M Khaly Thiam (5.5) - Replaced Cocis in the 58th. Completed 5 of 10 passes and one shot attempt was high but he did contribute with five tackles to tie Campbell for the game lead.

M Arturo Alvarez (6.5) - Came on for Goossens in the 72nd and immediately contributed with what easily could have been his goal on his first touch. The play gave the Fire the breathing room they needed and put Montreal into panic mode. Credited with an assist on Polster's goal. Another shot was just wide in the 84th.

D Michael Harrington (5.5) - Subbed in for de Leeuw in the 80th minute. Completed 6 of 8 pass attempts.

 

A lot of them weren't around to experience the entire 39-match winless run but a large weight has been lifted from the shoulders of the collective locker room......

finally

Filed under: 2016 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

Comments

Leave a comment
  • Fun game to watch. Campbell was terrific. Watching him face up against Drogba was great as he held his own. Comparing his performance to last year's back line when Drogba tossed them around like rag dolls shows how improved we are in the back. Every player showed up!

  • In reply to Krasov:

    To be fair, it's a lot easier to toss someone around like a rag doll when you have them in a headlock. Drogba is a dirty player and gets away with a lot of stuff because he's Drogba.

    I did learn something in Saturdays game, apparently aside from it not being illegal to put someone in a headlock, it is also not illegal to throw people arpund by their shirts and rip them. Who knew?

  • In reply to edubs:

    To be fair, Drogba is old and was being humiliated by Vincent. What else could he do?!? :D

  • fb_avatar

    Long way to go...but last night was fantastic. Almost brought tears watching Polster put that away to seal it. We all love the Fire, we want them to do well. The season isn't over yet and I side with Guillermo that the playoffs aren't happening, but I'm definitely going to enjoy today. Happy Birthday Pauno!

  • Things have been building to this for some time. Nothing spectacular. Just a slow steady build-up. There's still a lot to be done but we've finally seen results that, even though I had been expecting it, left me speechless.

    I just pray Andy doesn't think he's struck gold and decides not to sell.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I don't think AH is looking at results in making any decisions. That's been the problem all along. If any change is coming it's because he's satisfied with the balance sheet or Daddy is taking away his toy.

    Agree though that this seems like the result of slow growth over the course of the season. There may be a little bit of fortune in when we went up to Montreal - they were very hot earlier in the season - but they've hit plenty of teams that have had players missing or other issues and still not won.

    I know that some people dislike Pauno's optimism, but he's not promising we'll make the playoffs, etc. Calling it "the perfect game for us" pretty much says it all - those don't come along often. But the fact that this win came along after a long series of changes had been made with the promise of improving the team at least gives me hope. Coupled with the rumors of a sale to a local group, it gives me more hope than I've had in forever and a day.

  • During the first half, about mid way through, the Impact line actually pulled back about ten yards because of the Fire's offensive pressure. I have not seen a team pull back against the Fire in long time. Are the Fire making progress or was last night's game merely "a blind pig finding an acorn?"

  • In reply to FrontRow:

    I would call it progress. We may take a step back every now and then but when you defend for 90 minutes it's easy for other teams to pressure us all game. With more offensive threats other than Accam, teams will have to respect us, at least play us differently - it may take a few more games for the respect.

    Except for the Portland Timbers (by one-hundredth of a point) all teams above the playoff line are top scoring teams (avg goals/game) within their conference. Best defense is an offense. Nelson started building this team from the defense and now with the recent acquisitions on offense we may be seeing special here. In my opinion we are 3 points away from the line; technically 6 but if we win the game-in-hand we are 3 out with 11 games left.

  • One game does not a trend make, but I'm hopeful.

    Building on Jojoy's comments, I can see how adding players like de Leeuw and Solignac add dimensions to our offense. When I imagine Iggy with the ball in place of Solignac on the 1st goal, I visualize the outcome of that eun being: a field goal, getting dispossessed after attepting to charge through the defenders, or a blast into the outside side net. I'm definately glad we added the pieces we did. I've curious to see how our Lithuanian tower does when added to this mix. Go Pauno. Go Fire.

  • Ah, so *that's* the feeling fans of every other team have been able to have more regularly than we Fire faithful for the last 7-8 years? For one night at least, winning cured everything. Now I'm definitely a bit more interested to see what they come up with Wednesday against LA.

  • Guillermo before the season ends can you make a shortlist of maybe 10 players that the fire should get or are linked with? I would say that will be cool to read.

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    yep...although you might have to wait until the season ends for that one. I've got some names. ;)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    What are the chances Oribe Peralta is on that list?

  • In reply to Doug:

    He'd be a good add but not on the list of potential 2017 players right now.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Carlos Vela?

  • In reply to tomwhitt:

    Vela to MLS talk is sure to pop up again soon but I don't think he's priority for the Fire right now.

Leave a comment