Frank Yallop got the complete “ninety minute” performance he’s been looking for in Saturday night’s 3-0 thumping of the Montreal Impact. The Fire controlled the play from start to finish and never looked in jeopardy of surrendering that dominance against a visiting team that looked like they wanted to be anywhere but Toyota Park on a rainy and cold May evening.
Statistics in soccer don’t always tell the story but the numbers don’t lie in this case. The possession battle was heavily in the Fire’s favor at 65-35. Passing accuracy, buoyed by the Impact’s lack of fight and a 37th minute Marco Donadel red card, was a level that may not be reached again this season – 89%. While the visitors managed to get none of their three shots on frame, the Fire managed to get eleven of their twenty on target.
It was the thorough beating that one would expect at home against a short handed opponent with an abysmal road record. As they have done in other games, there were also numerous opportunities to score more than three that were squandered but the Fire didn’t bend or give the opponent a lifeline via a careless goal or “lucky” bounce.
They saw this one out handily and that is a good sign with Shaun Maloney set to miss the next three matches on international duty. The Fire are unbeaten against the Eastern Conference, but the wins have come at home against Philadelphia, Toronto FC, New York City FC, and now Montreal. All four of those teams have struggled mightily at times this season and a bigger test lies ahead when the Fire travel to the nation’s capital to face Conference leader, DC United.
That match provides another chance to make an early statement on how good this team can be. We’ve seen glimpses but they haven’t been consistent. The Fire finally provided a ninety minute look.
GK Jon Busch (6) – Wasn’t called upon to make any difficult stops and in fact, didn’t register one single save. Control and distribution were very good. Busch hasn’t done anything to suggest he shouldn’t continue to start which leaves Sean Johnson waiting in the wings. An odd situation considering that the Fire were hoping to maximize his value this season and move Johnson overseas if the right offer came along.
D Eric Gehrig (6) – Other one or two instances of difficulty against Duka, he played a solid game on both ends in his second consecutive start at right back. Provided good service for Igboananakike for two chances in the second half. Drew the first yellow card on Donadel. Missed a good look in the 72nd.
D Jeff Larentowicz (6) – Scored his team leading fourth goal of the season from the penalty spot. Missed just high on a free kick from 30 yards in the 60th minute. Gave up nothing to Jack McInerney, who has had big games against the Fire in the past.
D Adailton (6) – Another quietly solid outing. Excellent help defense after stepping up to deny Oyongo’s shot attempt in the 31st led to a counter opportunity for Accam and Igboananike.
D Joevin Jones (6.5) – Dangerous all night against the Montreal right side. Really developing into one of the better attacking full backs in the league. Several crosses were put into good spots although none resulted in scores. His pace also helped to recover and deny Montreal attacks on the other end.
M Harry Shipp (7) – He’s been held in check somewhat over the last several games but the Impact had no such success against him today. He was able to find space in which to operate and finding those gaps is what Shipp does best if given the time and room. A fantastic finish into the upper 90 in the 13th minute set the tone. Involved all night. He had a response to Soumare’s comments about the organization after his departure this past winter and talked about playing centrally after the game.
M Matt Polster (7) – The Fire dominated this game and won in it in the middle of the park. The central combination was outstanding in finding open teammates and marking Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti right out of the game. Completed 72 of 79 passes.
M Razvan Cocis (7) – His best game of the season so far. Excellent in combination and keeping the ball moving positively. Completed 61 of 68 passes. His one touch pass after a botched goal kick led to Igboananike’s goal in the 72nd.
M David Accam (6.5) – Continues to cause havoc for defenders and this was no different. Although he didn’t get on the score sheet, he was fouled in the area by Soumare in the 44th leading to a penalty kick. Seems to be working into a good rhythm with Igboananike. Yallop mentioned that he is dealing with a bit of a hamstring issue.
F Shaun Maloney (6.5) – Didn’t register a goal or an assist but he was key in the attack in the Montreal half. Completed 40 of 41 (that’s 1 unsuccessful pass according to Opta) and provided a handful of those to teammates in position to get shot on target. Yallop mentioned his work in postgame comments.
F Kennedy Igboananike (7) – The Fire’s DP striker scored a goal and assisted on another. There were numerous opportunities for two or possibly three goals with a slightly better touch here or there but his work in this game provides reason for optimism. Did lose some chances and found himself crowding teammates with an occasional baldy placed run but the finish and the work to outfight Soumare for the ball leading to the first goal bring this up.
F Quincy Amarikwa (5) – Replaced Accam in the 66th. Active in those minutes with two shots on goal.
F Jason Johnson (5) – Entered the match for Igboananike in the 75th. The match was well over by then.
M Guly do Prado (5) – Subbed in for Polster in the 80th minute and took up his spot in central midfield as the Fire looked to kill the clock and prepare for a midweek match.