Fire 1 Crew 1 - recap and ratings

After a less than rousing first half in which Columbus controlled most of the play and easily could have come away with more than a 1-0 half-time lead, a tactical shift reversed the course of the action and put Chicago on the front foot in the second half. A change to a 4-3-3 formation opened up the attack and provided Dax McCarty with a little more help in controlling the middle of the pitch. Veljko Paunovic's move worked well enough to come away with a well-earned point on the road to open the 2017 season and keep some positive momentum going forward.

The Fire's second half effort only yielded one goal but some of the positives going into the season were on the display, in the same manner that some of the negatives were in the first half. Getting Juninho back for the home opener will certainly help from the start against a good Real Salt Lake team this coming weekend.

The 1-1 draw in Columbus against a team that is struggling to regain identity isn't reason for celebration just yet, but it's not a bad start.

Player ratings

GK Jorge Bava (5.5) - Two decent saves not withstanding, Bava's distribution and ability to play with his feet, the biggest reason for his acquisition, leaves something to be desired. He also still looks shaky handling balls in the air and doesn't appear to have command of the area just yet. He was a bit flat-footed on the Crew goal but can't really be faulted for it. Quality saves came in the 3rd and 48th minutes. Lucky to not be punished for an awful giveaway in the 40th.

D Michael Harrington (4.5) - Failed to close down Meram in the 17th leading directly to the Columbus goal. In fact, failed to close down much of anything in the first half. Improved in the second and did provide occasional competent service.

D Johan Kappelhof (5.5) - The Fire defense was scrambling to cover and shut down gaps in the first half. That improved in the second. Finlay found space in between the Fire centerbacks to head in the Crew goal. Seven clearances helped but Kappelhof needs to be more prominent when the Fire defense is struggling.

D Joao Meira (5.5) - Forget the nonsensical Audi index. 9 clearances, 4 interceptions, and 4 recoveries credited helped inflate that number. Meira continues to be nothing more and nothing less than a serviceable centerback.

D Brandon Vincent (5.5) - Decent game for Vincent as Columbus' best efforts came from attacking the Fire's right side and middle in the first half. Chipped into the attack in the second half at times.

M Dax McCarty (6) - As the game wore in and the Fire's play improved via the formation change it's not coincidence that McCarty was in the middle of it. Competed 89% of his passes while the team completed theirs at a 82% clip. Those numbers are miles above where the Fire typically were last year. McCarty started the play that led to the Fire's goal and was key in controlling the change of the flow in the match.

M John Goossens (5.5) - Up and down while filling in for Juninho in the starting line-up next to McCarty, which isn't the ideal spot for him. Unsurprisingly better after the shift to 4-3-3 with a handful of impressive long connections and field changes. Just missed the mark with a long shot attempt in the 47th. Hit the pass the find Accam for the goal.

M Arturo Alvarez (5.5) - Showed briefly in attack and did manage to help occasionally on the right side when the right back was absent.

M David Accam (6) - Scored the goal to get a point for the team and continues to use his pace to create chances but he can be much more dangerous with a better grasp of playing a team game. Still prone to unnecessary give-aways that could be easily avoided.

F Michael de Leeuw (5) - Found Nikolic with a good pass after McCarty started a play forward in the 15th but didn't provide much else in the first half. Needs to be more involved than he was if he's going to fill the Fire's "playmaker" role.

F Nemanja Nikolic (5) - His high shot attempt in the 15th was the Fire's best look in the first half. Had two other shots that weren't on target but did provide some presence even if he didn't convert. Nikolic. de Leeuw, and Solignac all had attempts blocked in a wild scramble in the 83rd.

M Luis Solignac (5) - Replaced Alvarez in the 74th. Wasted a fantastic chance with an open look in the 84th when he couldn't get the ball onto his foot in time to complete a shot.

F David Arshakyan (5) -Subbed in the Nikolic in the 93rd in time to get up and down the pitch once or twice.

M Drew Connner (5) - Replaced Goossens in the 96th as the final seconds ticked away.

Shots Crew 10 Fire 12

Shots on goal Crew 4 Fire 3

Possession Crew 55 Fire 45


Filed under: 2017 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Harrington literally is my enemy right now. He shouldn't freaking start.

  • Hopefully when Polster is healthy, they'll use him at RB. He's got the pace and toughness to actually make tackles out there and not just watch. Really want to see the young, US players out there, Campbell, Calistri, Conner, Fernandez, Vincent, Polster. I would rather buy tickets to watch a core of our players as they develop, than a bunch of 1-2 year journeymen. Some of these kids are more talented than what's on the field, but Pauno seems to be biased towards vets. Running Arshakyan out there before Calistri is a joke.

  • Little disappointing that Fire still got dominated in possession. Hopefully Juninho helps out with that next week

  • We seem to have a good deal of success in the 4-3-3. I've wondered why we don't use that formation more often.

    After the game, it was nice to see Junino and Nelson at the bottom of the stairs where the away contingent was at thanking everyone for coming out. It was a nice gesture.

    I don't hate Harrington, but I definitely don't consider him "solid."

  • I still think Accam is over rated. Personally I think he got lucky on that goal, he didn't out dribble the player, he got lucky that the ball bounced back in front of him when he tried to cut left and the ball bounced off the players back heel. He's still running into multiple players and has no idea how to get around them. Someone needs to teach him the concept of hold up play if he is going to continue to try to draw multiple players. He doesn't have the skill to get through them, so draw them and find the smart pass. Until he improves on these other aspects of his game I'm going to continue to find him an over rated and over paid player.

    Harrington... just no.... Pauno move on. Arshakyan... Where his substitution didn't actually matter that late... again just no. Lets see Calistri who has potential which is getting wasted since he doesn't get any playing time.

    Nikolic seemed a bit "flustered" on his shots on goal. I'm hoping a few games in and he will settle into the league and show why he was so successful elsewhere. Currently optimistic on his possibilities. Hoping for a show from him Saturday.

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    We need a real, professional soccer coach. Pauno's poor judgment of talent and allegiance to players that "practice well" costs our team points. I know it's only one game into his second season but he appears to have not learned a damn thing from his first Wooden Spoon season...

    Harrington should never start an MLS game and would rarely make the game day 18 on my roster. He can occasionally put in a nice service but is absolutely NOT a starting caliber RB... We have some kids on the roster, play them!

    I also cannot fathom how Pauno thinks Arshakyan is a professional caliber soccer player. That guy would never make the gameday 18 let alone ever get subbed into a game on my team... Pauno's weird fascination with the tall fella that can't run really needs to stop. Either his judgment of talent is just awful or he has too much pride because he recruited him. I'm not sure which excuse is worse... I can't even imagine Tulsa would put him in a game if we loaned him out. What an absolute waste of an INTL roster space and a slap in the face to all of our Home Grown talent that never sees the field. Pauno seems to favor players that are either European or played in some Euro league which doesn't necessarily do us a ton of good here in MLS where teams have limited INTL roster spots and the Home Grown program which is meant to develop young, local talent. Speaking of HGs, why does Collin Fernandez NEVER see the field? If Nelly was capable of playing a game of chess he would realize that he should get on Pauno's case about never playing HGs as that will only keep future HGs from signing with us... At this point I'd be shocked if any of our very promising prospects at UNC have any interest in signing with us.

    Bring back Bob Bradley lol!!!

  • In reply to Joe Brancato:

    Fun fact, Fernandez is our longest serving player on the roster.

  • GR - In your opinion what would be a realistic point total through the first 10 games? And what would be a bad point total through the first 10 games?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Anything less than 10 points would be disastrous. May is tough. Need at least 13 points in that span.

  • The overall feel of the team is better this season, except for Harrington and Bava. Bava looks like a terribly old man. He looked like Matt Lampson with the ball at his feet. Just to be clear, looking like Lampson on the field is a terrible thing. Where Sean earned us 7-10 points a season, I think Bava/Lampson will cost us 7-10 points this season. I'd rather have my keeper good at stopping shots than making a pass out of the back. We are nowhere near good enough yet to have that even be a thought when selecting a keeper.

    I also think, once Polster is back healthy, all three of our central midfielders need to be on the field. They should be playing in the middle together. Setting a team out there in a 4411 or 442 against a team playing a 433 will always lose the possession battle. Polster and Dax in the middle with Juninho allowed to play a more free role sounds exciting to watch and terrible to play against. Dax and Polster can run for days and would both be able to ease pressure on the right back, whether that's Harrington or a traffic cone. We need to have our best players on the field in their best positions. This Polster at right back talk needs to stop, immediately. It was the final straw for me with Yallop. If Pauno puts him out there, he is hurting both the player and the club in the long run.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    He was purely a defender in college. What makes you think he belongs at midfield?

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    The previous two seasons in MLS where he was our best midfielder and the fact that he was not a good right back when Yallop played him there.

  • I thought Solignac had a positive impact. I know he could have done better on the play in front of the goal, but overall he was effective with his speed and tenacity. He would get a 5.5 from me.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Yeah...but "that" play was brutal.

  • Goossens out 5-6 months after ligament surgery

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    That really hurts. Goossens is sorely needed for depth. Injuries have been my big fear.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Total bummer.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    This sucks, but the glimmer of hope is the return of Polster. Also, Conner and Fernandez may pick up more minutes, which I'd like to see. Well, as long as they don't get shipped off to Tulsa.

  • GR - i didnt get to see the match, but can you explain more about how the team looked in the 433? Who were the middle 3? Was alvarez wide right or was that mdl? How far up did the middle 3 play?

  • In reply to AJties:

    It always easier to tell what's going on tactically when you can see it in person, you can't always get a real feel for the shifting from a tv shot. Nikolic, de Leeuw, and Accam would have been the attacking three. McCarty dropped back a little deeper with the center backs to cover the gap in front of the back line but he was still able to get the ball moving forward when he had to.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Thanks, I was wondering this too.

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