Crew 3 Fire 0 - recap and ratings

Three consecutive road games culminated with a third straight loss. A 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Columbus Crew, in which the Fire never really threatened the ninth place team in the Eastern Conference, leaves them with the exact same point total that they had after 31 games in 2015.

At this point in the season last year, Frank Yallop had been dismissed as the Fire were on their way to the worst campaign in club history. Through 31 games in 2015 a 7-18-6 record and 27 points was good enough for the bottom of the table. This year, a 6-16-9 record leaves them with 27 points and at the bottom of MLS again.

The Fire looked like a team going through the motions and riding out the string in Columbus. They managed 5 shot attempts and only one was on frame throughout the entire match. They offered little resistance defensively on the Crew's three goals. At one point in the season, defense was the one thing that could be relied upon to at least keep Chicago in matches. Not so much any more.

"We are aware of the issues we have this season and we have to fix it," said Veljko Paunovic following the match. "I think the game reflects exactly how this team feels right now, which is very fragile. Very easily we concede goals, but that has been the whole season. This game was pretty much the same."

Last year's version of the Fire tied for a league worst 58 goals allowed and an MLS bottom -15 goal differential. This year's team has allowed 52 goals while suffering through a league worst -16 differential. Only Orlando City and New York City FC have allowed more goals than Chicago.

Scoring is still difficult but that has been a problem all season due largely to a lack of creativity from midfield. "What I like about the team is we tried until the end to score at least one goal. We weren't even close , but at least that's the mentality we have to look for. On the other side, I think the effort was also huge for us, but we have to do much better, we have to improve, we have to work ahead for the next season," said Paunovic.

The Fire have made massive changes from last year but have followed up the two worst seasons in club history with a third disaster of at least equal proportions.

Player ratings

GK Sean Johnson (4.5) - Afful's shot appeared to knuckle but one can't help but think that Johnson could have done better to knock it away. Goalkeepers are sitting ducks with the type of defense on display for much of this game however.

D Johan Kappelhof (4.5) - The bad defensive bug that has infested this team seems to be spreading to Kappelhof, who has for the most part been very good this season. Columbus killed the Fire on the flanks. The second Crew goal came as a result of Campbell being pulled out of position to cover for Kappelhof, who wasn't in position.

D Jonathan Campbell (4.5) - As the season winds down, defenders who looked impressive early on now seem to be struggling.

D Joao Meira (5) - Meira has been the Fire's best defender over the last month. Let that soak in. Led all players with 13 clearances.

D Brandon Vincent (4) - Provided a good ball into the box in the 33rd but was torched on the Fire's left side throughout the entire match. Failed to close on Afful on the first goal.

M John Goossens (4.5) - The curious decision to pair Goossens with Thiam in central midfield doesn't make it hard to see why the Fire were so ineffective with the ball despite decent possession and pass completion numbers. Goossens completed 18 of his 26 passes although the Fire as a team were at 80%. He registered the only shot on goal with a long attempt in the 49th minute.

M Khaly Thiam (4.5) - Completed 39 of 47 but only two of those led to anything of consequence. A good tackle and cross in the 42nd found no one near the far post and a through ball to Ramos in the 77th resulted in something of an attack. Beaten by Meram on the second goal.

M Luis Solignac (4) - Had one chance in the 26th and missed another clear look at goal....badly. The spark that he provided the offense upon his arrival seems to have dimmed.

M Michael de Leeuw (4.5) - Needs to assert his influence more on the field if he's going to be shoe-horned into the "playmaker" role underneath. "Today they killed us. They were better on every part of the field. Everything has to be better," said de Leeuw after the match.

M David Accam (4) - As the Fire's lone current DP, Accam has been too easy to mark out of games recently. If he's going to deserve the big raise he's looking for in order to extend his stay past 2017, he needs to do better than 10 pass attempts and 1 shot attempt in 74 minutes. There was also the "defending" on Afful's goal to consider.

F David Arshakyan (4) - Still hasn't shown any where near the form that made him so dangerous with his former club. Service isn't there but he hasn't really shown on set pieces either.

M Matt Polster (5) - Midfield appeared to be somewhat more organized upon his insertion for Goossens in the 63rd but it was already 3-0 at that point.

M Arturo Alvarez (4.5) - Completed 4 of 11 passes after coming on for Arshakyan in the 63rd. Participated in a good deal of "whatevering" in the final 30 minutes. One shot attempt in the 91st.

D Rodrigo Ramos (4.5) - Replaced Accam in the 74th. Involved in a combination with Thiam in the 77th and picked up an yellow card in the 88th.

Filed under: 2016 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

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  • Game was over when the central midfield pairing was announced. I'd like to think Pauno's selections were intended to allow some players to rest. Well, they have two weeks to do so now, and to think about that awful awful performance.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Thiam is useless and also got beat on that second goal.

  • Yep....added that tidbit.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Thiam was only in a recovery reaction on the second goal. Goosens was really the guy whom Meram beat on the play. Goosens approached Meram when Meram controlled the ball at midfield. After he passed to Duka on the wing, he sprinted into space. Goosens gave up the chase before even starting it. That's lazy, plain and simple. The fact that Campbell left that space open because of Kappelhof's inattentiveness was a contributing factor to that debacle.

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    also true

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Hey GR do you think that selling Huampton and getting Craig Grandell would help?

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    Yaw but you can't get beat that easily and Thiam has to track that run.

  • This is basic defensive soccer. When the man you are marking initiates a give-and-go, you have to continue to mark him when he makes the run into space. Goosens' failure to give chase helped unbalance the Fire defense.

  • Check out my Chicago Fire blog at bloggersoccer.com . I write analysis and answer questions.

  • Check out my Chicago Fire blog at bloggersoccer.com . I write analysis after each game.

  • A lackluster effort in a meaningless game is more an indictment of the coaching staff and organization than the players themselves.

  • Is it 2017 yet?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Don't you mean 2020 when the league (hopefully) stops expanding and Andell can finally cash out? Can't come soon enough.

    What a failed ownership group.

    On a different note, I'm wondering if the team in this form will even pull 1 point from the final three matches. I wouldn't blame them if instead of kicking the ball at the first whistle, they all look at each other, shrug and just walk off the field.

    The wounded lion has bled out.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Kudos for the wounded lion reference.

  • Gotta give Paunovic three years to implement his system. Even TFC needed a year to gel to make the playoffs. That's with the Atomic Ant, Jozy, and Bradley. Give NR and VP some slack.

  • In reply to tomwhitt:

    I disagree about giving them slack. They should be held accountable for this awful season.

  • In reply to tomwhitt:

    You get three years when you earn it. He had this year to show improvement. Earning less points than Frank f'n Yallop does not earn you three years. We better be in the playoffs next year or he absolutely has to go. We won't/can't win with Pauno as the coach. He is simply not good enough. The team looks lost. They don't play soccer well and are usually set up to be unsuccessful before the ball is even kicked. I wouldn't be mad or upset if he was fired after the last game of this season. I never thought we could be worse than last year. I was very wrong.

  • In reply to tomwhitt:

    I understand the need to give a coach, any coach, more than 1 year to implement their system. But here's what worries me about the TFC analogy. In 2013, the year before Bradley arrived TFC's Total Guaranteed Compensation was (as nearly I can tell via Google) $4,349,633. The Fire's for 2013 was $4,963,354.

    Fast forward to 2016. TFC's Total Payroll is $21,798,509 (of which 18,440,556 goes to Altidore, Bradley & Giovinco). The Fire's 2016 Total Payroll in contrast is $5,685,173.

    I'm not sure it's fair to expect Pauno & NR (or any coach) to make the kinds of improvements that TFC has in the past 3 years without the equivalent increases in Total Payroll.

    [If my numbers are off I encourage others to correct them].

  • In reply to Marlin:

    I think the perception of Fire ownership would change a bit if payroll was even half of what TFC's currently is.

  • In reply to tomwhitt:

    3 years for Pauno to implement his system won't matter. In order for 3 years to make any sort of difference, you need to be able show a plan that will bring in better quality players then the ones that are in a race to the bottom of the standings.

    You need to put resources somewhere. Be that 3 highly priced DPs that can rip the league a new one, or by investing heavily in your academy to build your team from the roots of the city. Neither of those are happening. The needle is barely moving on the budget. Other teams are bringing better and better caliber players, and its feeling like we are playing moneyball with a coach that doesn't now how to make those pieces work.

    Sad thing is that next year we will probably see half the team gone again. You can't build team cohesion with moneyball players if you constantly flush the team and start over. You can't get a playoff team after you have flushed the roster and started over if you don't put money into the incoming players.

    After the Montreal game, i was hoping to at least have an exciting end to the season. Maybe not playoff, but also not to be the first team mathematically eliminated. Something exciting and fun to watch. That's out the window now. All we are likely to see out of the last 3 games is line ups where Paunovich is evaluating who to keep and who to cut.

    As others have pointed, in order to request some more time, you have to show at least a little bit of success with what you're doing. Holding the same amount of points at this point of the season as last season, and being on track to meet or exceed last years league worst of 58 goals conceded does not instill the confidence that is required to allow someone some slack

  • In reply to edubs:

    My perception is that the competition is getting tighter and tighter, and additional investments need to be made to the academy systems and payroll to develop and sign the talent level needed. It's a talent race, akin to an arms race. The entry point into MLS is now what, $200 million? Organizations, whether they be a single entity or a team bought by Crowd Funding (LA)- if they can put up that kind of money just to buy into the league, they certainly 1) aren't going to be cheap, otherwise a s***ton of money goes down the tubes 2) are more than likely going to have the additional funds/funding available to sign higher-end talent and build a competitive academy system to essentially protect their investment. Andell is spending like the entry point is still at their purchase price of $35 million. Recipie for disaster, (otherwise known in these parts as 2010-2016.)

    Open that purse or get outta town. If the reputation gets any worse, you won't be able to pay anyone to play for this club.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Hey Brian check out my Fire blog at bloggersoccer.com

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Good Points Brian, that reminds me of another option they have, but aren't exploiting. Developing players through your own USL team. If you own the team and treat it more like baseball treats the minors, you have more control over your players who just need some more minutes on the field and those you want to teach a bit before bringing them back to the main team. This is a big reason why germany is so successful. They have a great farm system married to a multiple lower level leagues used to find and grow existing talent. Look at Julian Green. Bayern Munich felt he wasn't good enough and throw him down to there second team to gain the experience he needed. No clue where he is now, but the point is that they have the means to be able to grow a player. Something that Nelson has claimed is not needed here in chicago... If we don't need a farm team in the USL, and we don't need to improve our academy to grow our own players, and we aren't going to spend the money to buy talent a la the EPL or LA Galaxy, then where are we going to get the players needed to compete with the teams who are doing these things? Its not from the throw aways of other teams, foreign or domestic, because they happen to free up cap space for a lateral trade at best.

  • In reply to edubs:

    Yeah, Julian Green is not exactly the poster child for the Bayern Munich farm system. But you're right about the need to have one to get players time in meaningful games.

  • If you try a 3 year plan in any other big soccer league in the world, you will get relegated. MLS obviously is different, so I don't know if the 3 year plan is a fair analogy or not. It probably is more applicable to MLS than other ones, but I think implicit in the willingness of fans to give the Fire a little time was there would be some noticeable improvement this year and obviously that hasn't happened. Despite the fact that I think they had better players, at least for half the year.

    For me there is no other conclusion but that this particular ownership group doesn't have the vision nor resources to put a decent product on the field and in fact the current ownership has seen the team spiral downward. So, let's hope they sell. Whatever Pauno's strengths or faults, he had a whole season to make some kind of difference and looks like he is in over his head. Plus, if he had anything to do with Arshakyan coming to the team he should be canned on principle. What in god's name were they thinking? That guy has absolutely no talent and he makes Juan Anangano look like Ronaldo.

    I guess it could be a bit worse: we could be Orlando fans with the former world player of the year and still miss the playoffs, and be forced to watch Brek Shea stink it up.
    Or we could be Vancouver fans in one of the coolest cities on earth and have to watch that crap on artificial turf in a creepy quasi stadium.

    For that matter, why do Seattle and Portland still play on artificial turf? I would think by now that Seattle should be building its own stadium and hopefully they will put grass in it. Portland has no excuse. No other real league plays on that surface, and it affects MLS credibility, or whatever there is of it.

    As always, Guillermo thanks for the fine reporting, and I think we get your drift.

  • In reply to Dstep:

    Both Portland and Seattle share their stadiums with football teams. Given the climate in the Pacific Northwest, a synthetic surface is probably the best option, even if it is not the best surface for soccer.

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    I'm no weather man, but there has to be somewhere in the world that has a similar climate as Portland and Seattle. I am assuming those places play soccer and probably play on a grass surface (a quick google mentioned Chile?).

    My point is weather should not be an excuse. If the rain is the concern, doesn't it rain a lot in England? I may be too negative, but I'm assuming they made them turf because it's cheaper to take care of. Cost is the deciding factor in almost every decision a business makes. If MLS wants to be taken seriously on an international level, the league needs to get serious about writing checks. Get the field sponsored (miracle grow? Home Depot?). There has to be a way.

    The sharing the field problem is much easier to solve...quit sharing fields. Again, pony up the cash if you're ACTULLY serious about it. Seattle fans are not shy about how great their team is. Well maybe they should get their own stadium then.

    The next time the World Cup is in the U.S., no matches will be played at either Portland or Seattle because of the surface unless they put a terrible chunk of sod over top like they did at Copa and that was terrible. Two of the most prominent soccer locations in the U.S. should not have turf. It's pretty simple. If we want to be taken seriously, we have to get serious.

  • In reply to AJties:

    Your proposal would take some serious check-writing. Both venues have ideal locations. Building soccer stadiums in those same locations would require finding enough open land. How easy would that be?

    With their attendance numbers, Seattle are probably turning a profit. Are they making enough to buy land in a prime location and then build the stadium? MLS clubs are still dependent on ticket sales for a large fraction of their revenue, so I wonder whether there's enough money available for Seattle to build a 50K-seat stadium. Maybe their best bet would be to wait for the Seahawks to get tired of Century Link and abandon it for a new state-of-the-art stadium.

    I would love to see these teams play on a perfect grass surface, but I can see why they have chosen their current venues.

  • In reply to Dstep:

    Neither Orlando nor Vancouver have the distinction of being the first team in league history to come in dead last 2 seasons in a row... I think their fans are much happier then we are. Sadly, the Fire aspire to be them...

  • Nrod was right, they are shaking up the soccer world, just not in the way most fans would like...

    Two last place finishes is impressive, you really have to try to get there.

  • Guillermo

    When are you gong to schedule a podcast without Kelly and with Evan Whitfield? I would be really interested in his opinion of how Pauno has lost the team.

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    We've got to figure out a schedule to get the podcasts back on.

  • At least Sparky is competing at the top of the league

    http://www.foxsports.com/soccer/gallery/ranking-all-the-ridiculous-mascots-of-mls-100416

  • In reply to AJties:

    Obvious conspiracy to rank Cozmo #1.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Is there any new positive news of the fire?I Visit this page everyday but no one comments nowadays because there is nothing to comment anymore except negative things

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    The season is almost over...there's that.

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    I've got a few things in the works but I'm not sure anybody will be celebrating.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    True is it about transfers???

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    I *almost* posted earlier that GR should post an open "2016 death spiral" header for us to use to air out all the complaints. But he's too even-handed for that.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Good call ;)

  • I am seriously worried about the viability of this club. Someone once mentioned that the real problem isn't anger but apathy. I've been a STH for the last 5 years but have officially joined the "Don't give a crap" club. I went from watching the games on TV, to TIVO'ing them and watching only if there was a positive result, to giving up all together. I don't know what's going to happen regarding a big signing in January or the sale of the team. But, if they stumble out of the gate AGAIN next spring, then I'll join the rest of Chicagoland and not care one way or the other. Hot Time in Old Town has pretty much stopped updating it's site with Fire news. BigSoccer is a flamefest against anything related to the team, the newspapers, TV, and radio have put the Fire somewhere between Chicago Wolves and Chicago Sky.Of course MLS wants (needs) a team in Chicago. But, for now, they just have a laughingstock placeholder.

  • In reply to Doug:

    You are me last year. I was where you are today. After 15 yrs as a STH (varying between 3 & 5 Tix), this ownership group managed to take the fun & excitement out of attending games. I reluctantly attended just one match and only because the tickets were free.
    Last year I bought only 2 season tix and only because my son begged me, but when even he decided to follow another team midway through the season, thank you Hauptman & Mr. Garber, I decided to not renew.
    Used to be only red in my household, but now there's green in my kids room - Cascadia Green, bleh! I guess they are attracted to the game atmosphere. We love attending live games, all five members of our family, but this year we've only attended 4 live RedStar Games and they were Fun.
    As for my Fire Organization, Wether everything being said is true of not, the perception definitely has become reality. The apathy, secrecy, fan antipathy, lack of vision, & LACK OF AMBITION, has pretty much killed off most of the fan base for this team. The disconnect with the fanbase is unreal and even the well intentioned but half hearted attempts come across as condescending and talking down at us.
    Last year I tried protesting during games and spoke to ticket people about what it would take to get me back to the stadium, and even spoke with a certain fire legend to discuss my displeasure with the direction this organization is headed. Many "promises" of change were spoken and changes that were to move the team in a different direction. However, in the end, while the shaft of the arrow may be trying to head in a different direction, the arrowhead, ie Hauptman, is what leads this team. Not only are we just the shaft but that is exactly what we are getting the shaft!

  • In reply to FireRog:

    Unfortunately, ticket sales are actually up... IMHO the growth of soccer overall in the US is fueling ticket sales in Chicago (Not to be confused with physical attendance). STH sales are, as I understand it, up over this time last year. I agree with the downward spiral of the team... but unfortunately ticket sales don't actually reflect that. Still not as strong as they were 7 years ago in my opinion, but are currently on an upward trend.

  • In reply to Doug:

    This is me as well. STH since 08. Wouldn't miss a game because I used to enjoy going to the games as a fun night out and I loved most of the players and the club itself. This year, I can't stand the players and I do not care if I go to the game or not. For this first time in the hundred of games that I have been to, I left at half time because I couldn't handle watching it anymore. None of these players are relateable. None of these players are exciting to watch. I know I wont be seeing any of them in 2 years because they probably wont be in the league anymore. I think the coaching staff is incompetent and the owner is the owner we all know him to be. There is no hope for the foreseeable future. We need 10-11 new players to fill out the roster. We will be in last place again next year.

  • Guillermo what you said that you were working on something has me wondering. I think that you are about to say that Accam has realized that his career is dying in Chicago and that he has made a decision to leave and go anywhere but Chicago. Am I right or close?

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    No and not close. ;)

  • Any thoughts on Damarcus Beasley as a FA signing? Could be a good experience/depth pick up. Idk what he'll want money or playing time wise.

    I tried to find an upcoming FA list for January but couldnt. Any knowledge of upcoming FA's that could fill the Fire's (many) needs?

  • In reply to AJties:

    I was thinking the same thing and get rid of Harrington. Beasley will be welcomed because he was an ex fire player and he also suits that Lm spot so if Accam is on international duty or is injured, then Beasley is not bad to slot in there behind Accam. He is pretty pacy as well.

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    Harrington is one of at least 7 players under contract for 2017 already.

  • In reply to AJties:

    A 35 year old Beasley wouldn't be high on my list.....especially at DP dollars.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    True but what else can we lure at this point? Are the things you preparing with your shortlist/ fires shortlist coming out this month or within November? The one thing I really want rn

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    Closer to end of November. After the season is over.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Is it worth the wait Guillermo and is there any world class players on the list?In my honest opinion, you, Accam, and kambelhoff were the only highlights of the season as well as the road game against Montreal.

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    If I'm on that list the bar is set very low for 2017. ;)

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    I think I may be in the very small minority but I hope they transfer Accam after the season.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Why he is like the player we should build this player around. I would keep him here until he is 28-29 when he starts getting slower.

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    Accam is a good player but he's not the type of player to build a team around. He can be a piece to the puzzle though.

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    The self proclaimed "King" is not the type of player to build around. He is a very selfish player, very one dimensional, and his defensive skills for a winger are lacking big time. I would rather the Fire sell him to bring in a big time #10 that you can actually build the team around(Yes I know as long as Andy owns the team a big time player will never happen). Just my opinion.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    I would prefer that the Fire keep Accam, but I can see very good reasons for selling him to a European team who might want to overpay to get him.

    His biggest asset is his speed and he had proved to be devastating in 1 v 1 situations in the open field. Opponents have caught on to this and now, it is normal to see a second or third defender positioned to help if the first defender gets beaten. Unfortunately for Accam, his dribbling skills are not good enough to beat two or three opponents, and he often loses possession when he tries to dribble through a crowd. Think of Marco Pappa, but with more speed.

    Accam could be that game-breaking player if he learned the very important skill of when to hold the ball and when to give it up. And this is a MENTAL skill, not a technical one.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Never thought he would command that type of contract, i agree no way if it's a DP deal

  • In reply to AJties:

    As a 35 year old never deserves a dp contract. He will most likely get injured anyway as 35 year old and for a dp being that aged is really risky.

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    Frank Lampard - 38
    Andrea Pirlo - 37
    David Villa - 34
    Didier Drogba - 38
    Steven Gerrard - 36
    Kaka - 34
    Robbie Keane - 36
    Thierry Henry - 37 (when he left New York)

    I think you would take any of these DPs at 35...

  • In reply to edubs:

    DaMarcus Beasley does not equate to any of the above names.

    Blanco he is not.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Agreed,

    Beasley doesn't equate to any of them. It was only a counter argument to FireFan's statement "As a 35 year old never deserves a dp contract." Plenty of players are still being looked at for DP contracts in MLS and are impactful. As much as I wish MLS attracted more Giovani Dos Santos and Giovinco's, we are still looked at as a place to retire.

    And Blanco... I was never a fan of him. Don't hate me.... I always felt like he spent more time whining to the ref then chasing the ball down. Just my opinion. Although its the same thing I didn't like about Magee in his second season here. Spent to much time crying about not getting a call, when if he stayed engaged in the play he could have been impactful and turned it into something positive.

  • In reply to edubs:

    These men had plenty of expierience in Europe so they will something technical to the team. Even though beasly is pretty good and had expierience in Europe, he didn't play on a regular basis for Manchester City, people like David Villa did with the likes of Valencia and Barcelona and still has that technical talent

  • In reply to edubs:

    I also ment to say that beasly is a lb/on so he his going to get slower

  • Cedric Cattenoy finally announced as the Fire's new Academy Director......

    http://www.chicago-fire.com/post/2016/10/07/cedric-cattenoy-appointed-chicago-fire-academy-technical-director

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