Fire 0 Orlando City 0 - recap and ratings

The Fire wasted an opportunity to pick up three points on the road against a direct Eastern Conference playoff rival. Thanks to a questionable straight red card shown to Rafael Ramos in the 26th minute and another straight red to Antonio Nocerino in the 66th, Chicago played with an advantage for much of the game but couldn't capitalize or break down Orlando's packed-in defense.

The match was played without Dax McCarty and his presumed replacement Juninho because of international duty and a new child respectively, but referee Ted Unkel handed the visitors a big advantage with the red card decision against Ramos. This should have been a chance for Chicago to prove themselves against one of the East's top teams in the early going, while playing without arguably their most important player but the big test was essentially postponed thirty minutes in.

A draw on the road coming into this match may have been a perfectly acceptable outcome but the circumstances of the game make this result unpalatable for a team that has now raised expectations. Orlando's ability to stop Chicago from creating chances despite the man advantage for more than forty-one minutes and a two-man advantage for the final 24-plus minutes of the game, in fact raises more questions about just how good this Fire team is.

Have Jason Kreis and Orlando City provided a blue-print for defending a Fire team that has controlled the ball and finished impressively, particularly at home in the last five unbeaten matches? How much of the Fire's struggles to effectively beak down Orlando City was due to the shuffling caused by McCarty's absence? Does this effort show that the Fire is still missing that true "playmaker" capable of breaking down an opponent deploying the tactics that Orlando resorted to while short-handed?

The Fire hit the crossbar twice in second half stoppage time and almost came away with all three points but those near misses were the best chances of the game. The previous win against FC Dallas came against a quality opponent who was playing short-handed and propelled Chicago to an impressive record but didn't answer a question about just how good they were capable of being. This match didn't do anything to address that and raised a few more.

Player ratings 

GK Matt Lampson (5.5) - Decent in picking up another clean sheet but there were some shaky moments in communication and questionable decisions. Larin almost caught him out of position in the 33rd.

D Brandon Vincent (5.5) - Active but not as accurate in his crosses as he has been in recent matches.

D Joao Meira (5.5) - Went on a foul spree in the first half while trying to defend Larin and there was little for the entire back line to worry about in the second half as Orlando was in full bunker mode for most of it.

D Johan Kappelhof (5.5) - Had a little freedom to get forward later in the game and tried to get involved to push offensively. Orlando completed 78% of their passes despite being shorthanded for much of the game.

D Drew Conner (6) - Improved in his forward runs and provided some good service. His cross attempt to de Leeuw in the 34th was knocked away for a corner kick in what was the Fire's best chance of the first half. His cross to de Leeuw in the 56th set up another chance. Drew a foul in a dangerous spot in the 62nd.

M Matt Polster (5) - Several bad passes led to give-aways and didn't have much cohesion with Schweinsteiger or much influence in moving the offense forward. Hit the cross bar with an open look in the 92nd minute.

M Bastian Schweinsteiger (5.5) - Impressive pass outlet pass to Nikolic in the 16th aside, he didn't have many answers or much help in breaking down Orlando's pressure or sit-back tactics. Chicago completed 89% of their passes but much of it came in non-threatening circumstances.

M David Accam (5) - Created a chance in first half stoppage time in getting by several defenders but his shot was off target. Got by several players again in the 51st but wasted the chance with a bad cross. One well struck shot in the 2oth was right at Bendik.

M Michael de Leeuw (6) - An exceptional work rate, and the captain's armband, kept de Leeuw involved as the Fire's most active player but he was missed by teammates on numerous far post runs. Conner almost hit him on one of those in the 34th. Saved a chance in the 47th with pure hustle and also came back to defend on the rare Orlando ventures forward. His pass to an open Polster set up the shot that hit the crossbar. Easily the Fire's man of the match in this one.

M Luis Solignac (5) - Mostly ineffective in combination and seemed to be lost while playing up a man for a good portion of the first half.

F Nemanja Nikolic (5) - Couldn't get much on a shot after a pass from Accam in the 20th. Had two shots stopped by Bendik in the first half stoppage time. Didn't have much success against Spector and the Orlando defense in the second half

M Arturo Alvarez (5) - Replaced Solignac in the 55th and did try to get involved right away. A couple of long distance prayer attempts were just that, and not even close to goal.

M Djordje Mihailovic (5.5) - Subbed in for Conner in the 71st. A tackle on Kaka in the 81st won the ball pack and he was involved in the play that led to Polster's chance in stoppage time.

F David Arshakyan (5) - Came on for Accam in the 76th. Shown a yellow card after losing the ball and grabbing the opposing player from behind by the shoulder. HIs shot glanced off the crossbar in the 94th after taking a pass from de Leeuw to close the game.

Filed under: 2017 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • The crazy thing is that I think Fire would have walked away with 3 if not for the red cards. They were clearing the better side 11 v 11 but couldn't break the bunker once OCSC stopped trying to win.

    Also - Arshakayan. Wow, his open field ability is just clearly so far below any other professional (and many amateur) soccer players I have ever seen.

  • In reply to Shinny:

    I agree, the fire win if that first Red Card isn't given.

    Still shaking my head on why Arshakyan even travels... I hope Daniel Johnson gets healthy again soon. This definitely would have been a game that would have been good to try and prove himself in. Unlike those other games where he was subbed in at a point the game was just being shepherded to a close.

  • In reply to edubs:

    This would have been the perfect game for DJ since he could have tried as much fancy footwork as he wanted without any real repurcussions

  • Personally I think the 2 red cards did more of a disservice to the fire then helped them. Everything I see on twitter and from analysts are with Guillermo in this calling it "unpalatable" or similar. I disagree with that. On paper yes the fire had a 2 man advantage. But in practice what I saw was an Orlando team looking to do everything the could to preserve the point and giving up any possibility of taking 3 on the night. It took what was a favorably stretched field in the opening minutes to effectively 8 defenders behind the ball. with the exception of some attempts by Larin to attack on the counter, Orlando stopped attacking for the most part. I can only imagine this is why Pauno's instructions were to move the ball side to side and try to create space in the second half. Which I saw being carried out by the fire. On the Orlando side, with all of this side to side movement, they did a great job to hold their shape. Effectively killing this tactic as well. Alvarez was brought in to further these attempts. When these weren't working in comes Mihalovic and eventually Arshakyan.

    So in the end of the day, the two red cards effectively killed Orlando's attack, but only served to strengthen their defense. I know Pauno wasn't happy with the result as weren't the players. This shows an improvement in the mentality of the team. These are positives, but I wouldn't go so far as call this game result unpalatable. If anything, i'd say they got out coached on the day.

  • Totally. Plus, a road point is a road point and it all spends the same whether it came via 11v11 or 11v9

  • Red cards or not, Alvarez and Vincent's shots went into the upper deck during the second half. It seems the Fire still suffer from old woes.

  • I would agree that, like the LA draw, it was a missed opportunity.

    In Fire Weekly, the guys talked about how Orlando was going to come at us furiously in the first 20 minutes. Whether that was their plan or not, they couldn't do it - we held Rivas and Larin in check, and we controlled possession and were starting to build well. As the announcers pointed out, Vincent was starting to find a lot of space on the left - which eventually led to the situation in which the first red card was doled out.

    Another positive was that this was a good game for Conner to see time and hopefully to build confidence. I do think that if we had Dax, he might have caused enough disruption to Orlando to create a chance on the rare occasion when they were coming out of the bunker. Polster is awesome but doesn't have the same experience, and Basti was lying so far back being the metronome, and he could have used a partner further up the field - I think Dax could have played that role. Juninho, too for that matter - given a couple yards, or a loose ball in midfield, he can unleash a cannon from distance.

  • I don't think this game told us much.

    I also don't understand why the red cards were so hard to believe. Both were studs up challenges, the second of which was from behind. It doesn't matter how hurt the opponent gets, they were very dangerous. You could probably be forgiving of the first since he was in the process of turning around and didn't realize there was a player in front of him. But still, Meola was struggling so much to see how these were red cards he must not get out much.

    I will say, it was difficult to see clearly what kind of contact was made due to the subpar camerawork during the game. Not making me feel good about the fact that Fox has the next WC.

  • In reply to manyou07:

    Agreed.
    During the pre-game they showed Kaka as a member of the Fire. At the start of the second half, they put up a possession stat that showed Orlando had 67% of the ball. I know that wasn't true.
    Just sloppy. Plus we get the ramblings of Alexi Lalas.
    Did Fox get the next 2 World Cups? Hopefully, NBC goes all in for the North American version in 20206.

  • In reply to Doug:

    Fox got the 2026 rights in a non-competitive bidding scenario for the same price they they paid for 2018 and 2022. When FIFA decided to stage 2022 in the winter, Fox balked, saying that they bid on a summer WC. In order to keep them happy and to keep the situation out of the courts, FIFA "did a deal."

  • In reply to Doug:

    Whatever they lose with Lalas, they get back 3 fold with fernando fiore imo...i think he's awesome

  • In reply to AJties:

    HAHAHA, he is rather hysterical! Gotta love that bald eagle hat he pulled out at half time.

  • In reply to edubs:

    Exactly! Post game when he told Lalas it was the hat haha.

  • Is Juninho healthy and available this week? Looking back at Orlando, I think the strategy to break down Orlando's defense was poor. Going wide and launching crosses into a box with 8 defenders doesn't seem wise especially when the player you are crossing to looks like he might not be very adept at tying his own shoes let alone heading in a winner. I really think there wasn't much else they could have done with the personnel available, but it might have been worth trying to get a few diagonal through balls in to the feet of the mids and forwards. They needed someone to break down and beat the first line of defense. It was frustrating watching hopeful cross and wasteful long ball over the top. In any event, they got their road point and we move on.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Those were Pauno's directions at half time. To try to stretch the defense side ways, get them to over commit to one side and then switch the field. This is why to me, they got out coached. Orlando held their shape. Instead of changing the tactics, Paunovich doubled down on what wasn't working with his substitutions.

  • So is Chicago going to have a team in the NISA league?

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