Dynamo 2 Fire 1 - recap and ratings

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.

Player Ratings

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.


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  • The sun must have gotten in SJ's eyes on the winning goal, because he had plenty of time to track it down, but was not aggressive on the ball. Despite the great saves earlier, this is what cost us the game, it was a service and not even a shot.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    You're right, it was definitely a cross/serve and not a shot. It seems like he was watching Ching who came free as the ball came in. I'll ask him what happened if I get a chance this week.

    It was a pretty fortunate goal for Houston either way.

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    Even though the score says otherwise the game play was actually better overall than even their win last week. All three goals in that game were due to defenders ball-watching, with Well's pee-wee league defense opening up the scoreline. Even I know you leave your feet; that goofy jump was the dumbest thing I saw all day.

    But the team is actually looking like a team now. Passing was much improved with good ball movement through the middle and lots of creative passes and players connecting on the ends. Some really good give-and-go passing in the final third made for a few great opportunities on goal. It was just the typical defense lapses in judgment that shot us in the foot again.

    I'm still not convinced that Mac should be starting, much less even on the team at all. Also Nyarko and Paladini should both be in the starting 11 somehow; I can't figure out why Wells or a few others are starting before Patrick.

    Two major complaints about the game though from me: [1] if I have to watch one more match in Spanish again this year I swear I'm going to give up on Chicago soccer. A second-class TV package begets a second-class team in a third-rate league. Argh. And [2] if I see Nyanko take more more hit like that yesterday I'm writing a letter the league. That hit on him was at LEAST a yellow, and really should have been a red card. He seems like a target in every game.

    Finally I'm sure things would be different had Arne been playing this year but we can't keep using him as an excuse, no team should be dependent on a single player as the rest need to step up. Fortunately as things are improving (not that they could have been worse though) his return can only help.

  • In reply to Jeff S:

    I would agree that this is the best game they played thus far as a team. I really don't understand why macdonald would start over Santos though. I walked away from this one feeling like we were in it the whole time but things just worked out in Houston's favor. The handball in the box that was never called could have made this a tie. At least we looked like a professional team, I still don't think we are anywhere near a championship team and I doubt they will be there this year.
    I have to wonder if Santos is a jerk or something because after coming off the bench last week scoring 2 goals I expected him to start, seeing MacDonald hasn't shown anything worthy of a starter.

  • In reply to Jeff S:

    I agree with most of that. I've watched the Davis goal countless times now and still really can't pin it on anyone although Johnson could have done better on it. The biggest mistake was giving Davis too much space to get the cross into the area. The goal itself was pretty lucky.

    Davis says he was aiming for the far post with a cross and that's what he got. It just happened to go in.

  • In reply to Jeff S:

    How, exactly, is what the Fire have a "second-class TV package"? Fire games are shown nationally and locally, and I'm pretty sure it's all games. The Fire cater to many different markets. I, for one, am incredibly thankful that Channel 60 and Channel 50 show Fire games because else I could not watch many of the matches. The games that peeve me are the ones that are on cable because I don't get cable. I'd buy the MLS Direct Kick package (or whatever it's called now) but I'd have to wait three days to get to watch a game that got shown on cable so I don't really see the point. But I digress. UniMas can be annoyingly biased and sometimes in the past they stopped talking about what was going on and drifted into other subjects, but in general their commentary isn't any better or worse than their English-speaking counterparts.

  • In reply to Fuegofan:

    That was the part of that comment I disagreed with as well. The My50 deal this year isn't a bad thing (unlike like season's NBC5.2 fiasco). I find the announce team on UniMas to be incredibly annoying in any language. The full name gimmick and outright nonsense (ie Jamaican USA) is well past being cute and the color commentary is about as basic as you can get.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I think that Jeff S was expressing frustration over the lack of an English-language broadcast and I'm totally with him on that. This season, the Fire made improvements over 2012 and have provided English coverage on Ch 50 on all but two of the matches on UniMas. But why aren't all of the matches in English? I find this unacceptable in an era where we have dedicated soccer channels and subscription packages that let you watch every MLS match.

    I'm an old-timer. I remember when the only way to watch soccer in the US was to watch it on a Spanish channel. I watched the WC finals of 1978, 1982, 1986 and 1990 in Spanish. But those days are gone. I don't want to go back to the old days. The Fire have to ensure that all games are broadcast in English.

    Would fans of any other sports team in town accept a Spanish-only TV broadcast of their team's game? Why should Fire fans have to accept this?

    Thankfully, this was the last Spanish-only broadcast of a Fire match for this season.

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    Dude, "fans of any other sports team in town" are much more numerous. The Fire are not a major team in this market so we should be lucky for them to actually be on TV at all.

    I'm sure Guilllermo can fill in the details, but I would be really curious about the terms of the Fire/Ch. 50 deal. Is the Fire paying to have the games broadcast a la DePaul basketball?

    There was a post on Grantland last week that looked at MLS local TV ratings and in New York they are only getting 30,000 people watching local broadcasts.

    Interestingly, Seattle and KC do better. Winning on the field--obviously--is important in those cases. But also they are minor markets with relatively little comptetition from other sports.

    Maybe if the Fire strung together a few years of consistent play deep into the playoffs they could leverage better ratings, but that remains to be seen.

    The proliferation of dedicated soccer channels and the availability of the top leagues in the world on the TV has to hurt the Fire's bargaining position as well. I have a $30 cable package and yesterday alone I watched the FA Cup semi, Ajax/PSV, and the Pumas/Tigres game--plus I the Real & Barca games on the DVR!

    All those games were broadcast before the Fire game even aired; so if you are a football fan and you are faced with a decision on what to watch the Fire barely registers on the radar.

    The Fire are a young organization so the culture in the city simply isn't there to demand anything. If they start winning and provide a good marketing/fan experience they can turn it around cause there are tons of football fans here.

    By the way, Beyond the Pitch had a good recent podcast on the Fire's troubles. Worth a listen.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    I agree with much of what you say regarding the difficulties the Fire have finding their place in a crowded soccer market. But the original poster's point was his frustration at having to watch the game with commentary he doesn't understand. And I'm with him. I think that Fire fans deserve better.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Annoying is putting it mildly. The UniMas commentators are lucky most Americans do not understand Spanish. The comments madeat times have been unprofessional to the point of being insulting and racist. If more Americans were bilingual and understood the Unimas and other Latin American commentators there would be complaints, protests and perhaps demonstrations in front of network offices. I don't mind creativity and comedy, but demeaning utterances are unnecessary.

  • According to Forbes, Humberto Suazo is Liga MX's highest paid player at $3 million per.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I wonder who is the 2nd highest.....I bet it is Christian Benitez from Club America; big name player in Liga MX and tops in scoring. Seems like Liga MX is more/less like MLS except Liga MX has more money and no salary cap.

  • Jamaican USA Sean Johnson

  • In reply to Madvora:

    Is that what they're actually saying? I don't speak a word of Spanish, but that's what it sounds like. Wasn't aware that SJ had Jamaican background/heritage or anything.

  • In reply to madtown:

    The UniMas team has a shtick they use for all broadcasts (Liga MX, MLS, national teams, etc.) where they'll say a player's full-formal name whenever they're referring to that player. It lends itself better when they're calling a game with players and teams that are largely from or play in Latin American (LA) countries. The LA countries use the Spanish tradition of using the father's surname and mother's maiden name for a person's formal name (i.e. Cuauhtemoc Blaco would be "Cuauhtemoc Blanco Bravo").

    It's annoying in Spanish referencing LA players and I guess to continue the shtick with non-LA players in MLS they'll use a player's middle name (they kept calling Berry: "Gregory Austin Berry") or they'll reference the player's nationality ala Sean Johnson whose parents are Jamaican/of Jamaican decent they kept calling him "Jamaica(n?)-USA Sean Johnson."

    Again, it's all annoying, but that's there shtick and that's apparently what Univision likes so they keep them out there, unfortunately. There are only 3 more of these broadcasts this season but on the plus-side the Fire are on national TV so we have that going for us.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Yep.....I get why, it's just off-putting and annoying. Not all of their announcers do it though.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    My favorite is Marco Pablo Pappa Ponce (MP3). :)

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Makes sense... thanks for the explanation!

  • The Fire has to be regretting the decision to let Gargan go. They left themselves exposed in the event of injury, and it's hurt them. Never agreed with that decision.

    As for the Santos/Mac starter debate, I'm frankly not sure it matters all that much. They are both decent MLS players, but not much more. It's clearly a spot that needs upgrading.

    The big difference to me was the difference maker that Houston has in Davis. The Fire has some solid/good players to be sure, but they just don't have any player who is dangerous game in and game out. We need someone(s) like that...

    Oh yeah, one more thing, we really miss Blanco's abilities on free kicks. I know that's going back a few years, but man was he dangerous. I miss feeling like we have a good shot at a goal on free kicks.

  • "Oh yeah, one more thing, we really miss Blanco's abilities on free kicks. I know that's going back a few years, but man was he dangerous. I miss feeling like we have a good shot at a goal on free kicks."

    Pardo would at least put the shots on frame...

  • Per Anthony Zillis on the twitters.....

    Klopas said today that Friedrich had setback last week. He's not sure when he'll be back...

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Arne will still be back before Derrick! #TRUTH

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    You're probably right about that.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Nice, I hope that means more Wells T!

  • In reply to Drew:

    I'm afraid you're also right about that.

  • NBC is planning a whole lot of Premier League programming for the 2013-14 season.....


    Arlo White will no longer be the network's PBP man for MLS and takes over the Premier League duties.

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