The post has been friendly to the Fire in the last two MLS matches. Portland found the woodwork three times last week and the Rapids found it twice in this match. It seems fortunes have turned a bit for the Fire with the some of the “luck” that worked against them early in the season reversing in their favor. This is a result that the club probably would have dropped during the first two months of the campaign and looking at things positively it’s a good sign that three points can be earned while not exactly playing at their best.
On the other hand there is still work to do on both sides of the ball. Defensively mistakes are still being made like the one that led to the Colorado goal and the Rapids also had several open looks that they simply failed to convert or even put on frame in some cases. On the offensive side there were some good individual efforts but the flow of the game wasn’t crisp by any means (passing completion at 73%) and there is still a question of who will score when Mike Magee finally fails to put one in the net. After Magee’s substitution the offense looked as predictably stale as it had before he arrived.
The Fire should be happy with the win while realizing they still have a ways to go in order to dig out of the hole they landed themselves in early this season. Another result in Columbus this Saturday will probably do just fine, even if it’s not picture perfect.
GK Sean Johnson (5) – Officially made only one save but had a good presence in the box, knocking away several crosses. Distribution still needs improvement as a handful of long kicks went nowhere.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) – Played pretty well in support and managed to register three shots. Forced Irwin into a diving save with a header in the 18th minute that appeared to be headed into the net.
D Austin Berry (5) – Scored the eventual winner in the 48th minute and had another corner kick header deflected by Magee that was cleared off the line by Brian Mullan in the 43rd. Several shaky moments defensively included the awful giveaway that led to Colorado’s only score. Check out Berry’s postgame comments at the Fire Confidential Facebook page.
D Bakary Soumare (5) – Very good at stepping up and breaking up passes but Colorado had some good looks in the box between the Fire’s centerbacks. Passing at times is questionable.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) – Good enough on the defensive side but not as involved in support runs in this game.
M Jeff Larentowicz (6) – Solid effort against his former team. A great long distance ball in the 48th was the service for the game winner. A 25 yard shot in the 42nd forced Irwin into a save and Magee nearly scored on the rebound. Almost scored on a header in the 72nd. Good command in the middle.
M Patrick Nyarko (6) – Didn’t figure into the scores but continues to be influential in the attack and as a help defender.
M Dilly Duka (6) – Nutmegged Mullan to get into the box and force Wynne into a tackle resulting in a handball and an ensuing penalty kick. 90 active minutes for Duka, who continues to show flashes.
M Alex (5) – Okay effort but the Fire could use a little more from this spot if they’re going to play with one holding midfielder.
F Chris Rolfe (5) – Nearly scored in the 50th minute when Irwin deflected his shot just wide for a corner kick. Hit and miss in some combination attacks but had some good moments.
F Mike Magee (7) – A cheeky attempt from the spot was Magee’s 5th goal in as many appearances for the Fire. He almost scored in the 34th when a goal was nullified by an offside call (he was off by a hair), again in the 42nd when Irwin made a big save on a rebound attempt, and yet again in the 43rd when Mullan cleared his flick off the line. Drew another foul in a dangerous area in the 69th but his free kick attempt was easily blocked. Subbed out in the 75th with an apparent back issue which he says should be fine. You can also catch his postgame comments at the Fire Confidential Facebook page.
M Daniel Paladini (5) – Entered the game for Alex in the 71st but not as influential as he was in the Portland match.
F Sherjill MacDonald (5) – Came in for Magee in the 75th and didn’t play badly but the drop-off was blatantly obvious.
M Joel Lindpere (5) – Subbed in for Rolfe in the 86th, just long enough to miss marking Tony Cascio in stoppage time. Luckily Cascio’s shot glanced off the post and out of bounds. One has to wonder where Lindpere fits in at this point.