The Fire defensive effort in this match was indicative of a team that has packed it in for the season. There wasn't much of a challenge posed against a New York City FC squad playing without an in-form Frank Lampard. NYCFC was somehow able to find plenty of space on their small pitch and completed 81% of their passes while easily holding the ball 60% of the game.
Perhaps a good indication of just how bad the defensive performance was lies in the post-game comments of the almost always positive Veljko Paunovic. The Fire coach usually goes out of his way to avoid any negative public feedback following losses but there was some bite in his words following this one. "I think we made mistakes defensively, very important mistakes that ended up deciding the game," said Paunovic. "Defensively, I think we had a really bad game. It's just that this year we are making all of the mistakes that one team can make. That of course is why we are where we are."
That's about as damning a criticism as Paunovic has heaped upon his players all season, but it's a familiar tune to those that have been around since before 2016. "We always say that it's a learning process and everything but you know, you have to learn from a mistake. If you're not learning from your mistake then something is wrong. That is why we are here to fix that. We will fix it, and we will come back next year," he continued.
Another familiar tune.
GK Sean Johnson (5) - His goals-against average will continue to take a beating if the defense in front of him continues to play the way they did in this match. His positioning and ability to read the ball can be questioned some but he's getting hung out to dry by defenders failing to challenge attackers adequately. Had 5 saves and this one could have been worse.
D Rodrigo Ramos (4) - Had a tough night defensively in his return from exile. Set up Solignac with a good ball over the top in the 27th that was wasted.
D Johan Kappelhof (4) - Moved back to the middle with Ramos starting on the right and what might have been his least impressive game of the season. In the vicinity and played a part in the lackluster defense displayed in the first three New York goals.
D Joao Meira (4.5) - A lot of ball watching and scrambling to recover. Not quite as bad as the other three starters but not good either.
D Michael Harrington (3) - Ball watched, lost marks, and failed to close down attackers too may times to list individually. Take a look at the challenge on the fourth New York goal.
M Razvan Cocis (5) - The Fire's top passer at 32 of 41 completed. A hard shot from distance was denied by Saunders in the 39th.
M Matt Polster (5) - Had a good look in the 55th that was saved by Ramos. The Fire's center midfield pairing wasn't particularly effective at shutting down space but the back line appeared so disorganized and lost that it was hard to tell how much the lack of help from midfield played in this particular loss.
M Arturo Alvarez (5.5) - Alvarez showed up for this game and continues to put numbers on the board that few expected. Assisted on Solignac's goal with a well placed cross and hit the post with a shot in the 43rd. Not as effective in the second half.
M Michael de Leeuw (5) - Managed a shot on goal in the 38th but starting in the "playmaking" spot underneath, he had only 16 pass attempts. NYCFC cut off the Fire attackers on the short pitch but Chicago couldn't do the same.
M David Accam (5) - The long ball to Accam tactic is nullified in Yankee Stadium. Accam had a moment or two early but was rarely seen past the first few minutes of the match. Completed 10 of 12 passes. Yes.....12.
F Luis Solignac (5) - Scored the lone Fire goal but blew a big 1v1 chance in the 27th when his shot sailed well over the net with a clean look and de Leeuw making a run.
D Jonathan Campbell (5) - Replaced Ramos in the 58th in the hopes that the some defensive shape could be restored. It was better from there on out.
F David Arshakyan (5) - Subbed in for de Leeuw in the 77th minute. Didn't see much from the big man again.
M Khaly Thiam (4.5) - Came on for Harrington in the 84th, just after the fourth New York goal. Somehow missed a wide open net on a cross from Polster in the 5th minute of stoppage time.