A difficult loss after what probably should have been a hard earned road point will be difficult to get over especially since the Fire did not play badly for most of the match. Unfortunately another inexcusable defensive lapse results in an empty handed road trip.
Making matters worse, Freddie Ljungberg will miss the next match against Los Angeles due to yellow card accumulation and the Kansas City Wizards have leap frogged the Fire in the playoff race by virtue of their 2-0 win in LA. Kansas City now on 26 points is two points ahead of the Fire’s 24. Colorado and San Jose currently hold the 7th and 8th playoff spots with 31 and 29 points respectively.
The Fire were recipients of a questionable handball call on Jeff Parke in the 28th minute but allowed Fredy Montero free reign to tie the match in the 36th minute. A perfectly placed ball from Tyson Wahl allowed Montero to beat Gonzalo Segares and Krzysztof Krol to the front of Sean Johnson’s goal. The score line held up until the 91st minute when Montero was left completely unmarked at the far post after a perfect ball from Nathan Sturgis. How one of the top scorers in the league can be left alone at that point in the match is incomprehensible.
GK Sean Johnson (5) – Johnson seemed to struggle on several low crosses and set pieces although he did come up with two nice saves on Montero. Taking charge on balls like the one that resulted in the game winner is something that will need to come with time and experience.
D Steve Kinney (5) – Kinney played well for most of the match up until getting suckered inside and leaving Montero completely unmarked at the far post for an easy game winning header. The mistake was unfortunate since he was solid defensively throughout and also provided support going forward.
D Krzyzstof Krol (5) – Played a decent game a left back. He could have done better to deter Montero on the first goal but it’s difficult to fault him on that chance. Struggles to maintain possesion in the offensive end.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) – Mixed results from Segares in his first Fire match at center back. Got caught too far upfield and had to chase to get back late on Montero’s first goal.
D CJ Brown (6) – Brown was very active throughout the match clearing dangerous balls out of the area and challenging every opponent in sight.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) – His run and attempted pass resulted in the handball call which led to the only goal. Some activity on the ball but not much resulting in terms of dangerous chances for himself or teammates.
M Logan Pause (5) – A decent effort from Pause but Montero did get free for one too many chances throughout. Alonso and Sturgis didn’t provide much in the final third but they seldom do. At one point early in the second half he killed an attack with two consecutive back passes.
M Baggio Husidic (5) – Seemed to be lost on the decisive play of the match. Husidic played on the right side for most of the match after playing centrally with Pause for most of the season. He lacks the pace to adequately play a wing position in MLS.
M John Thorrington (5) – Converted the PK for the Fire’s only tally of the night. Played well if unspectacularly in the middle in tandem with Pause.
F Freddie Ljungberg (6) – Once again the best field player on the pitch for the Fire. Seattle did well to surround him in an attempt to limit his chances but I would like to see him try to get a ball on goal once in a while.
F Collins John (4) – Very little in terms of chances or opportunities in the final third. His only shot on goal was an off balance header from a corner kick in the 85th minute that was handled easily by Keller. John needs to step it up and step it up quickly.
M Calen Carr (NR) – Carr came on in the 85th minute for Nyarko. The substitution should have been for John in the 65th or 70th minute. He was inserted into the match far too late to make any discernable difference.
The substitutions or lack thereof where very questionable considering it was fairly apparent to all watching that the Fire needed to stretch the defense in order to keep Seattle from surrounding Ljungberg and crowding Nyarko. Carr should have been called into action earlier and Marco Pappa should have seen the field at some point if he was healthy enough to be in the 18.
Los Angeles is struggling after another home defeat. This time at the hands of the offensively challenged Kansas City Wizards. The Fire have several winnable matches ahead but dropping points late, as they have done the last two weeks will surely make things exponentially more difficult.
Ljungberg will miss the Galaxy match making Nery Castillo’s struggle with fitness even more pressing. Castillo will likely fill the withdrawn forward role if he is able to start next weekend.