Earthquakes 2 Fire 0 - Recap and Ratings

The Fire have have maintained the annoying ability all season to play up or down to the level of the competition and this match was no different.  An effort that seemed listless and disorganized from the get go resulted in the San Jose Earthquakes ending a 13 game winless run and therefore bypassing the Fire in the playoff standings.  With seven games left this loss effectively ends any realistic chance of Chicago qualifying for the tenth and final playoff spot.

Other than pride and a position on the squad in 2012 there’s isn’t much to look forward to in the remaining seven MLS matches on the schedule.  The US Open Cup final on October 4 is the highlight of the last two months and the last chance to salvage something from a second consecutive season without playoff action.

Player Ratings

GK Sean Johnson (7) – This game could have been uglier than the loss in Vancouver if not for Johnson’s effort.  A penalty kick stop in the 53rd, another save on Wondolowski in the 62nd, and yet another big denial in the 69th kept this match from reaching a thoroughly embarrassing level.  This easily could have been 4-0 or 5-0 without Johnson in the net.

D Dan Gargan (4) – The move to left back resulted in Gargan’s worst game to date in a Fire uniform.  Left Wondolowski criminally unmarked in the 10th minute which resulted in the first goal and set the tone for the rest of the match.  Had a chance to redeem himself only seven minutes later when he broke in alone on Jon Busch’s goal but his near side effort glanced off the post.  To make matters worse, he will miss the next match due to yellow card accumulation after picking up a silly card for dissent in the 57th minute.

D Jalil Anibaba (4) – His worst game since moving to center back.  Low lights included a handball in the area that led to a penalty kick attempt, getting beaten off the dribble for dangerous crosses by the likes of Simon Dawkins, and a late arrival on the second San Jose goal.

D Cory Gibbs (5) – Probably the best of the Fire defenders on the night but that’s not saying much.

D Logan Pause (5) – Moved from midfield to right back to start this match and provided little in terms of positive play.  A clearly open shot attempt from the top of the box in the 43rd was blasted woefully high.

M Pavel Pardo (5) – A 45th minute volley shot that was spectacularly saved by Busch could have evened the match just before half time but San Jose owned the ball for way too long in this match.

M Marco Pappa (5) – Nothing of any real consequence or danger in terms of scoring chances other than attempting to unleash a few long distance shots that were either wide of goal or easily handled by Busch.  His work rate has improved but I can’t for the life of me figure out why he is still taking corner kicks from the right side.  Subbed out in the 72nd.

M Sebastian Grazzini (5) – San Jose’s game plan seemed to involve getting physical and neutralizing the Fire’s playmaker with rough play.  It worked considering referee Geoff Gamble was thoroughly awful for most of the night ignoring wrestling tactics until late in the match when he apparently discovered the yellow card was still in his pocket.

Baggio Husidic (5) – Meh.  A few decent combinations in passing sequences but really little else.  Husidic’s skill set does not lend for an outside midfield role and it showed.

F Patrick Nyarko (5) – A fine through ball set up Gargan for the tying score in the 17th minute but the defender’s shot glanced off the post denying Nyarko another assist.  Fairly active throughout the night but also had a few unforced bad passes.

F Dominic Oduro (5) – Not much from Oduro other than a chance late in the first half that was denied by Busch.  The Fire’s night could have been summed up by the terrible miss from distance in the 93rd minute.

F Diego Chaves (5) – Remember when this guy was good?  When he has gotten on the field of late his best attempts at goal have been unnecessary long distance shots that aren’t even close.  Did his quality go south of the border with Puerari?  Came in for Husidic in the 61st minute moving Nyarko to the left mid spot.

M Orr Barouch (5) – Entered the match for Pappa in the 72nd minute but didn’t figure into any opportunities.

C Frank Klopas (4) – The team looked flat and disorganized from the opening whistle.  Faced with a must win situation against a struggling bad opponent, good teams deliver.  The Fire did not.  The absence of Gonzalo Segares necessitated some juggling in the back line but tinkering with the chemistry that had been established over the last few weeks in midfield was totally uncalled for.  Moving Pause to right back disturbed what was working and allowed San Jose to control the middle of the pitch for long periods in the match.   A few injuries have brought about limited bench options but was it really necessary to have both Yamith Cuesta and Josip Mikulic available?  Was there ever going to be a need for four center backs on the pitch?  Are Victor Pineda and Pari Pantazopoulos not good enough to make the bench as emergency defenders?

Up Next 

Any unnecessary money grab friendly against Chivas De Guadalajara on Wednesday before entertaining Chivas USA at home next Saturday afternoon.



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  • I laud MLS's commitment to provide employment to the visually and mentally challenged, but why do they have to be referees.

  • Tough one to watch. Geoff Gamble is a joke of a referee, but Chicago's play was horrendous.

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    11 men running around on grass does not make a soccer team. Thats what the Fire were yesterday night. The Ref was atrocious, but that was no excuse either.

  • In reply to waam:

    As bad as Gamble was, the Fire and their game plan were even worse.

  • Would be nice if the front office had a new coach in place by Thanksgiving...

    Good point about the young players, they couldn't have been any worse, and we would have gained some info on the depth of the team.

  • I looked forward to the season all last winter. I paid for the best seats available with the hope that it would be an exciting summer. I will not make the same mistake again. Perhaps I will buy a few games thru groupon but unless there is a complete management change I will not spend good money on bad soccer.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Seems an awefully fair-weather thing to say. I'm as frustrated as any Fire fan right now, but being a supporter and fan means good times and bad. The last few seasons have been subpar, yes, but if you bought season tickets last year with the exit of the likes of McBride and Brown, did you expect different this year than what we've gotten? I too bought ST's last year (for the first time), and this coming year we're upgrading to better seats. Why? Because we care about the club, not a knee-jerk reaction over a rough couple of seasons (at least one of which was expected).

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    The Fire are running a 30for30 promotion with prizes given away if you renew season tickets by October 8. Maybe you can win President for a Day if you renew.....!/photo.php?fbid=10150377150239789&set=a.132606759788.135655.20210009788&type=1&theater

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Or, they could field a quality team with a quality coach and competent front office and avoid the need to use gimmicks to sell season tickets because people would actually want to come to TP to see a game...

  • All i have is call for speculation for the future. If not Peter Wilt, who can take wheel, at the front office level, and steer the ship?
    Which current players can take a more productive role, which players can be brought in to take a productive role?

    I'd like to say Nyarko and Orduro should be fine up top, but i can't base that on wins this year. I'd like for Orr to get minutes, but from which spot?

  • Do the Fire have an option to buy Barouch at the end of the season?

  • In reply to ChiT8:

    yes they do

  • Can we all now agree that this season is lost? Chances for playoffs are slim. Klopas is like a 16 year old who wrecked his bike and now asking for a new one. Fix the one you got! This team has had the players this year to win, spent enough money for all Franks new additions but management seems lacking. Team chemistry never been great this year. At least under CDLC we had some style. Players like Bone, Barouch, Videra should are great quality talent that needs to be on the pitch. Puerrira, Ritsik, should never have been released, and the youngsters sacrificed. Get these veterans off the field. they are very inconsistant and let the youngblood develop. Paying these guys hundreds of thousands of dollars does not make play time justified but it does make Frank feel justified. Oh did I say time to develop the young talent!

  • In reply to bigdog:

    I would have agreed with you a long time ago that the season was lost, besides the US Open Cup, which I still have hope for a trophy...which would somewhat save this season. I don't know where some of you had these high hopes for the season from...there has been a huge exodus of starters over the past few years and it will take some time to replace them. Also, I don't think Frank was given the money to compete this year considering all the players he had to replace. I think he did a decent job bringing in some players who have done ok, but there was just too much to do without bringing in a couple of DP's at the beginning of the year, which they failed to do yet again, and yet again they are paying the price. I'm not positive why or who's fault that is, but to me it seems like an owner with a tight grip on his wallet. I definitely am in agreement with Guillermo...videira provides nothing but depth, Bone has had 1 good game since being drafted, and Ristic was solid but his best position is where we are deepest. Hopefully ownership gives whoever is in charge this offseason to spend the money to upgrade the team. Plus this crappy year should put us in a position to upgrade a position through the draft and/or the allocation process, so we should definitely be a playoff team next year, and if we are not, then it'll really time to get pissed off.

  • In reply to Drew:

    There weren't many with high expectations coming into this year given the exodus of high priced veteran talent and the subsequent replacement of said talent, not a whole lot in terms of name recognition. The inability or refusal to bring in someone of DP quality to start the season has bit them in the behind two years in a row.

    That being said, they are not devoid of talent and I think Klopas has done a decent job as a technical director but he really needs to step back and take a long hard look at bringing in a coach with MLS knowledge to start 2012 rather than staying on the bench himself.

  • I agree with some of that....the playoffs are out the door but they still need to answer some questions and at least begin to establish some consistency in the roster going into next season. Grazzini is currently playing in what would be Bone's best position and releasing him to put a young player on the pitch that really hasn't produced (he hasn't been good in reserve games either) just because he was a draft pick makes little sense. A decision needs to made on Pavel Pardo for 2012. From all indications he is an excellent locker room player and appears to have some gas left in the tank. Mike Videira should never be on the pitch unless about five guys ahead of him are injured. Keeping Puerari probably would have been a good thing but the move was made at the reuest of the player. Ristic was a solid utility player who should find a home in MLS but he wasn't a difference maker.

    They do however have young players that are already playing (Nyarko, Pappa, Johnson, and Anibaba are all under 25).

  • Major League Soccer is negotiating to sell an equity stake in its media and marketing business, Soccer United Marketing, to Providence Equity Partners, according to several sources. The talks have been going on for several weeks and those close to the discussions say that Providence is interested in obtaining up to a 25 percent stake in SUM for $125 million to $150 million. Such a deal would value SUM at between $500 million and $600 million.

  • Here's the SBJ story on the possible SUM deal.........

  • It will be interesting to see who the Fire will protect for the Montreal
    draft, hopefully they won't make the same mistake this year as last year, both Lowry and Thorington are far better than any bench midfielders they currently have. They'll need a truck to dump the players they should. I know that there are some reserve players that some fans like but the bottom line is if you can't produce at the reserve level , you won't make it in the biggies.
    Use the reserves for development, not space takers or might have beens.
    Hopefully they sign Barouch for next season, he still is an unknown quality but seemingly has yet to be exploited talent.
    Would sit Pappa for the rest of the games, put Barouch or Nazarite on top with Oduro, would keep Grazzini and Pardo on the field with Nyarko at midfield also, would put Cuesta, Mikulic, Anibaba, and Gargan/Gibbs on defense. And for next year, of course a top notch coach, in view that Bradley, Brown, Nowak, and Marsch are not available, Wynalda might not be a bad choice, had one solid year here, and probably would have the F.O. sing a different tune.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    I thought Lowry was a mistake given who they did protect but he hasn't seen much playing time in Portland this year. Leaving Thorrington unprotected was a good move IMO given the return on his relatively high salary every season. He's been hurt for the majority of this year in Vancouver as well.

    They also need to find out what they have in Nazarit before making on decision on him for 2012 since his salary number will increase next year.
    Wynalda would be an interesting choice. Definitely an entertaining one...but I'd like to see someone with bench experience take over.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I like Wynalda as a color analyst but it is like DC United hired Ray Hudson; entertaining but clueless as a coach. If the Fire want a coach that has MLS background, I would consider Gary Williams or Colin Clarke.

  • And what has the current group got you? The Team Chemistry is missing, this group needs an overhall. How would you describe their play? Like high school on steroids. They have not out possessed any team this year and continue to play very direct with no options. Being outshot on frame every game. Teams have figured out Oduro and Nyarko up top. Thats not the solution. How many line ups have started this year? No time for them to gel. Has Oduro ever passed the ball to an open Nyarko? Forward always play together. Any one on this team succeed in providing assists on a consistant basis.

  • In reply to bigdog:

    This post is about 0-10 on correct points.

  • In reply to bigdog:

    Actually having good players on the field does wonders for perceived "chemistry". If Grazzini and Pardo were on this team from day one I think it's safe to say this team would be much better at this point. As you point out, there are certainly flaws....Oduro is a bad passer, and they have given up too much possession but to say Nyarko/Oduro have been figured out after one loss may be a stretch.

    They do need time to gel considering both central midfielders have only been here less than 2 months. They need another solid two way wing player, a quality target striker, and depth at fullback....but a complete overhaul after what amounted to a complete overhaul from the player stand point at the end of 2010 doesn't apply now IMO.

  • I think that Klopas should start Barouch for the rest season to see if he can handle it. I feel that with his shooting, skill and size, that he has the potential to become a top forward in the league. To say that Klopas can't find good players is harsh, the team just needs a coach that can put the pieces together. I think that the team has a very strong and deep squad, and i don't hink too many additions are needed. For next year, the team should be built around Grazzini, and for all the complaining about no dp's, i'd say that Grazzini is better than many of the dp's in this league. the Fire actually have a lot of fringe players who are of high quality and who i think could be used to try and trade through MLS for different players. I think players like Chaves, Nazarit, Bone, Husidic, and especially Pappa all have value in the league. Most importantly I feel the Fire needs another veteran defender to help shore up a defense that falls asleep far too often. How about a move for Kenny Cooper or Justin Braun? Both of them have the ability to succeed in this league, but are off form so we could probably get them fairly cheaply using Nazarit or Chaves as bait. New England seemed pretty eager to cash in on Feilhaber, so a combination of Pappa, and a few draft picks or other fringe players may be enough to bring him to Chicago. Most importantly though, they need a coach who can make the team run again. I wouldn't mind seeing a return for Hamlet at this point. The Fire should be a top five team, hopefully next year they will return to that status.

  • In reply to ChiT8:

    i agree that the fire now need to use the rest of the season to start to evaluate their young Barouch. He has potential for sure, but I still don't think he's a starter in the league right now. But hopefully they can get a better idea of what he may become by starting him. I also agree that next year the team should build around Grazzini. He offers some hope for the squad for next year.

    As for Chaves, Nazarit, Bone, & Husidic, I think all the offer is depth. Not that that isn't important, because it is. But that's about it imo. Pappa of course has value, he's a good MLS player regardless of his faults.

    My point about DP's really isn't so much that they spend the money (all the more power to them if they don't), but they need to find superior talent that can be a force every single game, very at least very close to that. Oduro may be able to be one of the F's if he can keep this season's knack for scoring up (though his many misses are frustrating) but we NEED another F who can score much more often then not when presented an opportunity. I really think this team isn't far away...a really good F and maybe another defender and depending on what Pardo does, maybe someone to take his place. But with Pappa and Nyarko on the wings, Grazzini and Pardo in the middle, Sega, Gibbs, Anibaba & Gargan and SeanJ, the team is pretty well set. Just a few spots, and like I've said a million times, after the draft and an allocation spot pick up, we might be a top Eastern Conf let's go get a top end F in the offseason and put us over the top to elite status!

  • In reply to Drew:

    The Fire definitely need another F who can be a target man up top. Neither Nazarit or Barouch have the quality to win the ball in the air or hold the ball up with defenders on their back. That is what McBride did better than anyone else in the league and what the offense has been lacking recently. I was thinking that Braun or Kooper could possibly play that role for us. Another guy, almost in the same mold as McBride, would be Kevin Davies from Bolton. He gets out of his contract in 2012 and certainly wouldn't be bossed around by MLS defenders like all of our attacking players seem to be, but he would also command a lot more money. I still think the Fire should try for the midfielder Steed Malbranque, he would be a great option at right mid. I'm trying to think of other ideas of who could play that striker role...

  • if i were running the team, i'd drop nazarit, vidiera, and chaves (unless he is cheap on the salary cap) and trade pappa for either a good left winger (my ideal would be houstons brad davis but that'll never happen) or a striker that's good in the air. the fire are just pathetic at winning meaningful headers, IMO

    they also could use another left back. if not someone preferably better than sega, then at least someone to back him up

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    oh, i'd also drop bone unless he is cheap salary-wise as well. he's done pretty much nothing in his 2 seasons

  • Klopas should be replaced before any other changes are made. Does anyone know what his win percentage is for the past two years?

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