Impact 4 Fire 3 - recap and ratings

This one wasn’t going to be settled any other way, was it?

Didier Drogba’s hat trick essentially ended the Fire’s farcical charge for the sixth and final Eastern Conference playoff berth. The mathematical gymnastics will continue for the next few weeks as quality, or lack thereof, at the bottom of the Conference won’t yet allow them to be put out of their misery but make no mistake, this loss put the lid on playoff hopes this season. Montreal showed that they can be just as inept defensively with their display in this game, so they’ll keep the window of opportunity ajar for the four remaining hopefuls. However, their games in hand advantage may be too much to overcome, barring anything short of an epic collapse.

Drogba won’t find scoring in MLS as easy as he did in this game but if he stays fit and available it’s not likely that he will let the Impact squander their position.

The talk before the match centered around the Fire treating this latest “must-win” contest in the same manner as they would a cup final. They responded as they have for just about every other “must-win” game in recent history. This time, the attacking side showed up but the defensive end certainly didn’t. A barrage of Montreal shots in the second half could have made this one even more embarrassing but highlight reel saves by Sean Johnson kept it respectable. “I don’t know where to start,” said Frank Yallop after the match. “We score three goals away from home; one is a penalty but the other two are good finishes. To come away with no points is very disappointing.”

The Fire didn’t land Drogba this summer but they did manage to wrangle somewhere in the neighborhood of three-hundred thousands dollars in allocation funny money from the league for simply being rejected. It’s painfully evident where that stash needs to be spent.

Until quality defenders can be added, the only game similar to a cup final that they’ll be playing in will feature two hapless organizations fighting for scraps and the right to lose in the first round of the playoffs.

Player ratings

GK Sean Johnson (5.5) – There was another array of remarkable saves that kept the Fire in it, but there was also that awkward failure to get out and either knock away or grab a seemingly harmless corner kick attempt in the 42nd. Seven saves included classic SJ denials in the 52nd, 53rd, 64th, and twice in the 68th. Even the winning goal featured a quality stop but those lapses will keep him from truly garnering real attention overseas.

D Lovel Palmer (3.5) – For some reason he was man-marking Lefevre on corner kicks. The strategy was woeful and could have resulted in even more than the one goal in the 42nd. Lefevre missed an open header in the 31st as a result and that worked so well that 11 minutes later, it continued. Palmer didn’t give Frank Yallop any reason to not continue to play Matt Polster out of position at right back in the future but the other three defenders may have been worse. So there’s that.

D Eric Gehrig (3.5) – Out-muscled by Drogba for the first goal. There’s no crime in that but the remainder of the match featured a back line that was scattered and flat footed. Stopped to complain on the third goal. See the winning goal and try to determine what was going on there.

D Jeff Larentowicz (4) – Scored on a penalty kick. After telling the broadcast team at half-time that they needed to play better defensively, he fell asleep while looking the other way as Montreal forced a quick restart in the 61st. Drogba walked in a scored easily against no resistance. Also see fourth goal.

D Greg Cochrane (3.5) – Montreal was dangerous up and down the left side of the Fire defense all night. Playing Cochrane in combination with Shipp on that side probably didn’t help. No challenge for Mapp.

M Patrick Nyarko (6) – Wasn’t credited with an assist but his pass to Igboananike in the 44th set up the second goal. His pass into Shipp led to the penalty kick. Dangerous for most of the time he was on the pitch.

M Razvan Cocis (4.5) – Not as effective as he has been in previous games on either side of the pitch. The Fire were the better team for the first 25 minutes or so but that fell apart quickly. Montreal enjoyed far too many easy and uncontested looks.

M Michael Stephens (6) – Continues to be one of the bright spots recently. One of the few to play well on both sides of the ball. More of his energy and enthusiasm is needed.

M Harry Shipp (5.5) – Still seems lost at times but did factor in to some positive play. His touch in the 35th wasn’t particularly good but Tissot’s clumsy challenge and tackle on Shipp led to the penalty kick. His corner kick service also left something to be desired for most of the night but his one good ball did find Igboananike for a score in the 59th.

F Gilberto (5.5) – Scored his first Fire goal in the 44th. It was well taken but not particularly difficult given the lack of pressure from the Montreal defense. Played a decent game but the results in this match from the Chicago’s first choice striker during this last window makes it look like the Fire got the booby prize at the door.

F Kennedy Igboananike (6.5) – He’s shown the ability to provide some quality with another goal and an assist on Gilberto’s goal. He’s much improved since the first half of the season, which may lead to the Fire deciding that he returns next season. He’s been good recently but is he worth $900K and a DP spot next season? That’s a story for another day but until then, Ogboananike has shown well for himself in the last month.

F Mike Magee (5) – Subbed in for Gilberto in the 75th. The Fire didn’t have much going from that point as Montreal looked to defend with the lead.

M Matt Watson (5) – Came into the match for Cocis in the 75th. One soft and easily handled header attempt in the 88th was about it.

M Jason Johnson (5) – Entered the match for Nyarko in the 83rd. Didn’t factor into much.

Filed under: 2015 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • That was Iggy's best match of the season. He was going at defenders and he was pretty dangerous for most of the match. Gilberto looks like a decent enough player. Both of those guys will not win you many games together though. Cocis is not good enough to be a starter in this league. He can go. Stephens plays with a lot of heart but just doesnt have that much quality. He is a good guy to have on the bench. Cochrane can go. Shipp needs to play better. Gehrig and Big Red make a TERRIBLE pairing in the back. Both are not good enough to be starters on any other team in the league, yet they are every week starters for us. Palmer should be in the USL. Sean Johnson kept them game respectable by only allowing 4 goals. Sean Johnson has earned us 7 or 8 points this season. He made one mistake last night, but if he doesnt come out to get that, the guy would have had a header from 2 yards out. Only Nyarko, Johnson, and Shipp should be starters next season from that team that was out there yesterday. People saying that this team does not need a lot of help this off season is very wrong. We need a ST, at least 1 CM but probably 2, another wide player, backup LB, 2 RBs, and at least 2 cbs. IMO, Cocis, Watson, Palmer, Cochrane, Gehrig, Big Red, Gilberto, Iggy, Adailton, Jason Johnson, Ritter, and Harden can all leave. We wont be a very good team if majority of those players are still here next year. The only players that are good enough to offer something beneficial to the team are Accam, Jones, Johnson, Nyarko, Shipp, Polster, and Magee.

  • Agree with most all that but just don't like the way Sean Johnson handles his distribution and indecision on set plays. He's great on direct stuff, but just not sold. I'd also like to see more of Gilberto. He seems quite talented and strong which is something this side lacks. The Fire get pushed off the ball so much in every game, all across the field.

  • A for effort as the shining point.

    I think we can begin shifting topics to the offseason.

    Has Palmer's performance from last year just slipped that much or has the talent level around him just improved that much? I'm surprised that he'd go from solid starter to Doh! so fast.

    Same for Shipp. Should he not be a starter? Is he out of position? Is this team not running a formation favorable to his strengths?

    And what of the coaching staff? Is there a good successor as head coach? Are we missing unseen potential on the pitch due to (paraphrase) the younger coaches being held back some?

    It's all so sub-par, I don't know where to begin.

  • Can the fire re-negotiate Igboananike's contract in the offseason so that he won't be a DP or use less TAM?

  • In reply to cf97TID:

    But why would he do that? Would you re-negotiate your salary with your employer? To make him not a DP would mean that he would have to take a $500k hit on his salary. He would have to agree to make less than half of what he is making this season. If we want to cut a large salary, we should look to move Magee. He's making over 400k and has some pretty decent value in this league.

  • In reply to cf97TID:

    Wasn't his DP salary paid down from the $500k league funny money?

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Yes it was. It's unclear if that pay down applies to just one season.

  • Guys how about a podcast with old Evan W?

  • Guys this team needs a huge turnover. I would like to see something radical like naming the x Mexican national coach as the successor to our poorly dressed leader. How in the earth could the fire be the worst team in the league,

  • So how does Yallop get to keep his job with a 21% winning percentage over 60 regular season games? Does Andrew just not care about winning?

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