Perhaps this is a match that would have ended in a draw just a few months ago but the Fire showed some resiliency after blowing a two goal lead. Faced with playing a man down for almost an hour the team did drop back and allowed Chivas USA to get back into the match before taking control of the game again late and keeping their faint playoff hopes on life support. Despite an ugly loss in San Jose the team bounced back today and continues to battle.
GK Sean Johnson (6) – The Fire allowed two goals but Johnson was outstanding again denying Juan Pablo Angel a chance at a multiple goal match. Johnson denied Angel on a clear look in the 54th, again in the 72nd, and yet again in the 87th to preserve the victory. Three of his four saves were not of the “easy” variety.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) – Solid game at right back before moving inside when Gibbs was red-carded and then back outside in the second half.
D Cory Gibbs (5) – Scored the Fire’s first goal on a header but was shown a straight red for his 38th minute challenge on Michael Lahoud whose jump and landing made the tackle look worse than it was. I thought a straight red call was harsh since Jorge Gonzalez wasn’t consistent with the whistle particularly in the first half. Gibbs will miss next Sunday’s match against his former New England team.
D Josip Mikulic (5) – Some pluses and minuses for Mikulic in this match. His miss on a clearance in the 54th led to Angel’s chance on goal but we he was solid before Gibbs went out. Angel’s goal on a one-timer was also within Mikulic’s area. Subbed out in the 80th minute with apparent cramping issues.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) – Solid 1v1 against various Chivas outside players (Braun, LaBrocca).
M Pavel Pardo (5) – Beaten to the spot for LaBrocca’s goal but the play may have been more a result of a fortunate bounce than anything else. Playing a man down for more than one half afforded Chivas the chance to get back in the match. His free kick led to Chivas’ own goal.
M Logan Pause (6) – Not spectacular as usual but solidly kept the ball in motion when called upon. Moved to right back in the second half.
M Marco Pappa (5) – Still seems to be finding his way offensively with the new dynamic in midfield. Klopas mentioned after the game that he could be showing some effects of international travel. Managed two shots on goal early although neither was particularly difficult for Kennedy to stop.
Sebastian Grazzini (6) – Provided an assist on the Fire’s second corner kick goal of the season and continues to show why he is the most important player in the team’s midfield. Removing him from the match in the second half allowed Chivas to take control and tie the match. Perhaps the coaching staff has now realized that Grazzini, not Pappa should be taking corner kicks from the left of goal.
F Patrick Nyarko (6) – Work rate continues to be impressive and his break into the penalty area led to Oduro’s tap in goal for the winner.
F Dominic Oduro (5) – Scored his tenth goal of the season becoming the first Fire player to tally in double digits since Damani Ralph did so in 2004. Despite scoring the game winner he absolutely missed a chance to give the Fire the lead in the 75th when he failed to see a wide open Nyarko breaking toward the net on a 2v1 chance. Also failed on a clearance that led to Chivas’ second goal.
D Yamith Cuesta (6) – Entered the match at half time for Grazzini and slotted into the middle next to Mikulic. No mistakes is an improvement of late for Cuesta.
M Daniel Paladini (5) – Came into the match for Pappa in the 80th minute and held his spot in midfield as the Fire pressed for a winner.
F Diego Chaves (6) – It’s been a while since Chaves has been involved in significant regular season play but he was very active today and set up the Fire’s winning goal with a nice touch and lead pass for Nyarko into the penalty area.
C Frank Klopas (5) – Three points was a must and the Fire did get the win but it wasn’t easy. The red card to Gibbs necessitated some shuffling and perhaps the correct substitution after the half would have been taking off Pappa instead of Grazzini. Klopas addressed that decision in his post game press conference, which you can see here. Finally made the move to place Grazzini on corner kick duty which resulted in a goal. The game plan was solid and the match might have been an easy one if not for the red card.
A home match against the struggling New England Revolution and another must win.