The Houston Dynamo claimed the MLS record for most games played at home without a loss (35) at the expense of the Fire. Chicago played relatively well for most of the match but they were a bit too loose defensively once again. Affording time and space for players like Brad Davis is a recipe for disaster and the Houston playmaker delivered a goal and an assist.
Twelve goals allowed in 6 league matches is not a pretty number (it’s actually the highest total in MLS) but you have to wonder how much of a difference Arne Friedrich would have made in this contest. Houston scored both goals as a result of lax defending and the first came from a header in the middle of the box. Control in the air and organization were a staple of the Fire defense with the German centerback paired alongside Austin Berry and those are two areas of particular failure early in 2013.
“I felt that we deserved better, but the little things towards the end obviously hurt us,” said Frank Klopas after the match. There were some positives to take from this game and a result could easily have been had but at 1-4-1 the Fire can’t afford to drop points at home next weekend against Columbus at home. Good teams win consistently at home, even when it’s early.
GK Sean Johnson (6) – Consistently good in just about every appearance this season. Registered three saves and two of them were of the impressive variety. A diving stab of Davis’ free kick in the 13th minute and another stop on Driver in the 63rd kept the Fire in the match. Also dealt well with some shaky moments from his own defenders. Fooled on Davis’ game winner however.
D Gonzalo Segares (6) – Andrew Driver had some success in spots but Segares was equal on more than one occasion. Also had a few decent combinations in the first half.
D Jalil Anibaba (5) – Fire centerbacks allowed to much space to Houston attackers within the area for most of the night. “Okay” from Anibaba but not much more than that. Friedrich should be back next weekend and it’s likely Anibaba will find himself back out on the right side.
D Austin Berry (5) – See above. Berry will benefit most next week. Seemed to lose Bruin on the first Houston goal but the breakdown on the outside was the cause of that score.
D Wells Thompson (4) – After two decent efforts at the right back spot this one exposed Thompson as a player out of position. Davis embarrassed him in the 26th to find Bruin for the first score and a ridiculous back pass to Johnson in the 51st nearly resulted in an own goal. Did have a few nice tackles but the Fire need a defender in this spot.
M Jeff Larentowicz (5) – Another player in the “okay” category but you expect more from a veteran of his stature. His big highlight was nearly tying the match in the 84th minute when his header beat Hall but struck the crossbar and caromed away.
M Logan Pause (5) – The Fire played a more open game than most expected and the match was even in the first half. However, Houston pushed the game to come out in the second half and owned most of the possession.
M Daniel Paladini (5) – Another good effort after last week’s spectacular performance against New York. Picked up a yellow card in the 55th before being subbed off for Nyarko in the 57th and you have to wonder if a move to replace Lindpere was the better choice.
M Joel Lindpere (5) – Delivered several good crosses in the first half but essentially disappeared in he second. Committed a foul which led to the free kick and ensuing goal to win the match for the home team. He also managed to lose his mark on Ching to boot which led to Johnson being fooled on the game winner. It’s still early but Lindpere doesn’t look like the same player he was in his first two seasons in New York.
F Chris Rolfe (6) – Easily his best game of the year so far but it wasn’t just for the goal. Yes, the strike in the 29th minute was very well taken and a classic Rolfe finish but he was also better in passing and combination for most of the day. The goal showed why Rolfe needs to be on the field. The Fire don’t have many players with his ability to finish and can’t really afford to not have him out there.
F Sherjill MacDonald (5) – Looked good early with a good cross in the 9th, quality combination in the 25th, and a post up touch which eventually led to Rolfe’s score but eventually you need more from your DP forward than a few nice touches before he’s subbed out after an hour. It’s gotten to the point where competent play from MacDonald is celebrated as an accomplishment. The Fire need more, a whole lot more from this position.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) – Back in action after missing a week due to injury. Entered the match in the 57th for Paladini but really was only involved once in a dangerous sequence. Beat his defender to the ball and delivered a cross in the 70th minute that nearly found Santos and Rolfe in front of the net. He doesn’t believe he’s being targeted but he was on the ground within minutes of entering the match after taking an unnecessary blow.
F Maicon Santos (5) – No late game magic this week and other than the near miss on Nyarko’s cross he was a non-factor.
M Dilly Duka (5) – Also returning from injury. Replaced Lindpere in the 85th minute but didn’t register much.