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