Wins are becoming common place and expected at Toyota Park as the Fire improved to 6-0-1 at home. Their fourth consecutive win marked the first time they have won four in a row since September of 2012 and the team's 24 points after thirteen games matches the club's all-time best point total at this point in the season.
The Fire are playing entertaining and more importantly, winning team soccer. They are difficult to break down in midfield, a much improved passing team, and one that can create chances quickly.
This match wasn't the big 'test" against the league's best that was expected since FC Dallas rested and kept home several key players in anticipation of a Western Conference rivalry game against Houston on Sunday but it was still a good indicator that this is a different Fire team than the ones we've seen over the last several years. At 7-3-3, the Fire sit just behind Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference.
The Fire are good. We just don't quite know how good they are yet. The fun seems to be just starting.
GK Matt Lampson (6) - FC Dallas only had one shot on target in nine attempts, but the lone goal was the result of a mistake in the back that spoiled a third straight clean sheet. Excellent distribution (with his arm) in the 57th to set Accam free on a counter chance. Seems to have earned the permanent starting spot from Bava.
D Brandon Vincent (6.5) - Good on both ends of the field again. His pass in the 3rd minute found Nikolic in front of the net for the Fire's first goal.
D Joao Meira (5) - A rough first half with several give aways and misses. His botched clearance in the 6th led to FC Dallas' lone shot on target and only goal. A missed tackle in the 41st set up a good chance. Much better in the second half.
D Johan Kappelhof (6) - His clearance attempt following Meira's error was deflected and ended up on Lamah's foot for the score but he was solid otherwise. An excellent long distance pass over the top found Accam to free him for the winning goal.
D Matt Polster (6.5) - Continues to excel at the right back spot. Contributes on both ends of the field and adds another dimension in the attack.
M Bastian Schweinsteiger (7) - A class first touch pass to Vincent in the 3rd minute set up the opportunity for the first goal. The Fire are better defensively because opposing teams don't have the ball as much thanks to Schweinsteiger and McCarty controlling midfield in this 4-2-3-1 alignment that allows freedom for Schweinsteiger to get forward if needed. His presence has transformed the side.
M Dax McCarty (7) - Schweinsteiger has added another dimension, but McCarty provides the engine that makes the machine work. Stopped an FCD chance in the 41st after Meira's missed tackle. Makes things very difficult in the middle of the field for opposing teams. Fire controlled possession again (54-46) and passing accuracy came in at 84%. You have to wonder what NYRB were thinking...
M David Accam (7) - Became the first Fire player in team history to score a goal in five consecutive matches. Opens up the attack with pace and skillset is on full display since he is not the focus of the offense any more. His goal in the 9th skipped past Seitz to provide the difference in the match. He'll continue to create chances as long as the Fire control the ball like they have.
M Michael de Leeuw (6.5) - He hasn't found his way to the score sheet yet but the work that he and Solignac put in has allowed the Fire attack to flourish for Accam and Nikolic.
M Luis Solignac (6.5) - Like de Leeuw, work on both sides of the ball sometimes goes unnoticed but Solignac continues to play important role in what the Fire have been able to accomplish in the last four games.
F Nemanja Nikolic (6.5) - Simply knows how to finish. His astonishing goal-scoring pace continued with a deft touch in the 3rd minute that found its way past Seitz. He did have a penalty kick stopped in the second half stoppage time after he was tripped in the box but it didn't matter.
M Juninho (6) - Replaced Solignac in the 59th as Paunovic looked to temper some of the momentum that FCD was regaining. His shot in the 89th after receiving a pass from Nikolic was well taken and forced Seitz into the best save of the night. Found Accam for a chance in the 62nd that was stopped well by Hedges.
D Jonathan Campbell (6) - Came on for de Leeuw in the 75th as the Fire shifted to a 5-3-2. Contributed with clearance of a dangerous Barrios cross in the 85th.
M Arturo Alvarez (6) - Subbed in for Accam in the 85th as the Fire shifted again to a 5-4-1. Active on both ends in the last few minutes.