Union 1 Fire 0 - recap and ratings

Another game against the Philadelphia Union produced the same result, with the same goal scorer, the same player providing the assist, the same mental lapses leading to scores, and the same lack of punch in the offensive third. The biggest difference in this match was that Chicago didn’t play nearly as well as they did a week ago facing the same club. Standing at 2-7-1 it’s time to throw out the old adages surrounding the “season being a long one”.

The Fire are in serious danger of missing the playoffs for the third time in the last four years. There don’t seem to be any real answers or quick solutions that can plug the holes until something can be done in the transfer window either. Injuries and lack of depth continue to be a concern, the attack is woefully inept, and high paid players are simply¬†under-performing¬† The return of Arne Friedrich, which is questionable altogether may help mitigate some of the mental lapses which continually seem to come up at the worst possible times but it won’t solve the scoring issues.

The Fire created some opportunities that could have prevented a third consecutive scoreless loss but they failed to adequately pressure a Philadelphia team which was playing it’s third game in seven days. Instead the Fire were forced to chase the game and looked like a tired club largely due to another careless bit of defending from a player who shouldn’t be a defender. Wells Thompson’s “El Diablo” nickname may be amusing but his inability to play the right back position adequately is a liability which haunted the club yet again in this match. The problem is they don’t have a competent replacement without compromising other areas of the field.

Player ratings

GK Sean Johnson (5) – Registered 2 saves as the Union carried a whopping 3 shots on target to another victory over the Fire. He’s not playing badly but when you’re giving up scores with minimum chances because of defensive ineptitude it’s hard to judge just how well (or not) he’s playing.

D Gonzalo Segares (5) – Did well to clear several dangerous crosses in the first half. His corner kick clearance in the 3rd minute led to the second ball in and some hideous team defending to allow the Union’s lone score. Second balls from set pieces have killed this club all season long.

D Austin Berry (5) – Chance on a header from a corner kick in the 7th minute. A failed clearance to start the second half almost led to a shot on goal but he came back to tackle the ball away and prevent the chance.

D Jalil Anibaba (5) – Defensively, the Fire weren’t horrible but you have to wonder how much more organized they would be with Friedrich in his place.

D Wells Thompson (3) – Punished by Cruz on several occasions up and down the wing and two more yellow cards put the club at a huge disadvantage. Hopefully the Fire has learned the hard way that Thompson is not a defender and will refrain from using him as such when he returns from yet another suspension.

M Logan Pause (5) – The Fire midfield was nowhere near as good as they were last weekend and that may have had something to do with Kleberson being inserted into the lineup for Philadelphia. Pause was decent but the team is very limited in the center of the pitch when they have to play from behind if Pause and Larentowicz are in the middle.

M Jeff Larentowicz (5) – Another “okay” but mostly unimpressive outing. Some ups and downs with one weakly taken shot from distance to show for the day. Two other attempts failed to find the frame.

M Joel Lindpere (4) – A heinous bit of defending resulted in the Union’s score as he lost McInerney in the area and inexplicably shuffled into a backward, flat footed stance to attempt defending the service. To be fair he did have a 15 minute burst in the first half in which he looked vaguely dangerous and somewhat like the player the Fire thought they were getting this year. He appears to have aged 5 years in one offseason.

M Dilly Duka (5) – A few decent corner kick services and a well taken shot from 25 yards out in the 60th minute forced MacMath into a tough save. Duka is showing a few flashes of promise after returning from injury.

F Chris Rolfe (4) – He’s always been a streaky player but he’s disappeared for long stretches far too often this year. Everything about his game just seems a half step off at this point.

F Patrick Nyarko (5) – The Fire’s most dangerous player again in this match but without the clear cut scoring chances that he generated last week. Managed one shot one goal from a tough spot in the 18th but MacMath dove to deny it. Teams will continue to crowd and foul Nyarko until the Fire prove they can provide offense from somewhere else.

F Sherjill MacDonald (5) – Came into the match for Rolfe in the 53rd. Probably should have drawn a penalty call in the 73rd when he was fouled outside the box and then again inside the area after the referee allowed continuation.

M Alex (5) – Subbed in for Lindpere in the 76th. Managed one long distance attempt on goal.

F Quincy Amarikwa (5) – Entered the match for Duka in the 81st and contributed a late cross in the dying seconds of stoppage time that was cleared away by Soumare.

Up next

Things don’t get any easier with a visit to Real Salt Lake next Saturday. After that match, one-third of the season will be gone and a loss will leave the Fire with seven points to show for it.


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  • Gargan must be getting a great big chuckle after being unprotected and picked up for nada. Just went back to read the thread from December, most of us were questioning the move. Jumper, Kinney and Wall were discussed as the possible replacements and depth. Wall was cut early, Kinney is made of glass, and Jumper has been hurt. Based on Kinney's shady injury history, and the early dismissal of Wall, I just don't see how that move made any sense at all. Plus Sega is often pulled up to the CR national team. This is not revisionist history here, it was a bad decision then and is a bad decision now. Unfortunately, the bad decisions aren't one-offs, it's a trend.

  • In reply to Drew:

    One in a line of head scratching moves.

  • Pretty spot on across the board. This team is in trouble, and it doesn't look to get better any time soon.

  • so now what?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    If this keeps up much longer the noose will get tighter around the neck of the guy on the bench. It's a matter of time before Klopas takes the fall for the failings of the group but then what?

  • Still think it falls on Petrei & Leon first. Hauptman as well, but I still don't see that changing. While Frank might not be the best manager, canning him at this point might be pointless unless you plan to bring in someone and change the whole system but as we all know Mr. Ego is all about the cheap. And while Frank is a great guy personally, I have never been too thrilled with his choices and vision even going back to his days as technical director.

  • hey g, i know we keep saying we need a striker but exactly how much do you think this team is willing to pay a dp striker? Also, do you happen to know where mls ranks among other leagues in the world in regards to average salary spending?

  • In reply to mintyfresh315:

    I believe they'd spend somewhere in the $2-$3 mill range if it was the right guy. I don't see it being much more than that. Suazo would have been in that range.

  • In reply to mintyfresh315:

    this is a bit outdated, but i wasn't going to look all night for you. ;)

    but you can see that MLS salaries were a tiny fraction of other leagues as of a couple of years ago. can't imagine it's changed much.


  • I saw that Oduro had another goal today. Boy am I glad we got rid of him. I mean the guy cannot finish. Am I right? I can see why we dumped him - certainly we don't stand for that kind of ineptitude in attacking players here. Plus we made out like bandits! We got Dilly Duka and Robbie Rogers in exchange!! Both have contributed hugely to this franchise, and I'm confident they'll continue to do so in the future. Unlike Oduro. What did he ever do for us? Score a bunch of goals? Bah!

  • It is time to start giving the bench players meaningful time. They can't do much worse, and it will provide an accurate assessment of the squad in an environment other than the practice pitch. Bone and others have been riding the pine for years, get them in or let them go. Getting tired of short term solutions, do they really need to wait until July every year to make an adjustment? this used to be a very good team, that could identify and develop good young talent, now they keep going in the wrong direction.

  • In reply to DerSting:

    I agree. Give them a runout. Throw Atouba in and let him practice his chops against first teams. I know the FO can't view this season as a lost cause, and they probably hope to bring in "Mr. Wonderful" who will fix the offensive malaise come July. But it won't be not enough.

    Just look at Montreal last year. Hey, they're doing great this year. I honestly don't know what they did with their reserves during the long part of the season before di Vaio arrived, but he didn't get them into the playoffs in 2012. If we took that perspective, getting a REAL impact player (no pun...) this year, while building the bench experience, maybe we could look to the playoffs next year (though we're going to lose Friedrich at a minimum, plus who else? I don't know the contract situations of Berry, Segares, Nyarko, etc. But I can see losing key pieces and being left with even more rebuilding to do.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Berry, Segares, Nyarko, Anibaba, Larentowicz, Pause, Rolfe, all have deals in place for next season. I believe Lindpere expires and MacDonald's is an option for 2 more years. Johnson's original MLS deal is also up...but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    When I read that list I have hope - for next year. That's a solid core, with some youth with room for growth. Drop Lindpere and MacD and other riff raff, and make some moves BEFORE July (as DerSting notes). They always seem to go into the year with holes and seem to wait to July to try to plug them, and it's often too late. It's the cheap way to go, but they should be building the team chemistry and fitness from day 1, not half way through the season.

  • Re: Carolina Challenge Cup (from the Wikipedia page):

    "Over the first few years of the tournament, the champion had gone on to win one of the two year-end MLS trophies, the Supporters' Shield or MLS Cup... Since 2008 it has either predicted the MLS Cup winner or the team with the worst record in the league. San Jose and D.C United had the worst records in 2008 and 2010 respectively, while Real Salt Lake won the 2009 MLS Cup."

    Safe to say we're not in the running for the MLS Cup. Boy, oh boy do I hope we can avoid the worst record in the league. Will anyone even know or care?

  • In reply to Modibo:

    at this point, it may be a blessing to end in last.

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    I don't see how a striker is going to help when we can't even get him any good service. Need a good CAM for that, who on this team is that player right now? We don't even have a decent box to box solution. Who the heck built this team?

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