Nelson Rodriguez will officially start work as the Fire’s new General Manager tomorrow morning.
He got a good look at what’s in store for him in this match, as the Fire continue to flounder on the road no matter who is in charge of conducting training sessions and filling out the line-up. While there has been talk of detail work improving and a better atmosphere around the locker room this game displayed many of the same issues that plagued Yallop’s tenure. More problematic was the capitulation in the second half that shouldn’t go unnoticed by Rodriguez as he takes over the football side of the club.
Both sides played a relatively even first half but sloppy team defense once again was the culprit in the 39th minute and it was downhill from there. DC hadn’t been in good form of late (0-3-1 in last 4) but this team’s ability to make any attack look good at home is uncanny. Lack of pressure on the ball, overcommitting, and undisciplined positioning have been rampant all season and there apparently was no reason to change any of that with a new GM starting tomorrow.
The Fire have guaranteed themselves the infamy of the worst record in the league this season. They have also finished the campaign winless on the road, and as a result are two games away from matching the league’s all-time record for futility as the visiting team. They’re at 25 for those counting.
While there is some talent in the attack, there has been talk over the last few weeks regarding “tweaks” that have to be made in order to be competitive next season. A massive roster overhaul probably isn’t necessary but expecting that “tweaks” in the form of a player or two will correct glaring deficiencies that have manifested themselves as culture is foolish.
Of course, the manner in which MLS rosters are assembled leaves a thin line between the playoff contenders and those that go home at the end of October but the goal should be much higher than just qualification for postseason. A few tweaks may get the Fire into position to battle other low-bar combatants for a mere sniff at a playoff run but the ambition and the goal should be greater than that.
The Fire are in need of an entirely new back line, a central midfielder, and perhaps another playmaking forward if they are to challenge for anything more than just the 4-5-6 spot in the East. That’s potentially six new starters in 2016.
Those aren’t tweaks. Rodriguez will need to be bolder in his roster decisions than this club has been in the past.
He got a good look at it today.
GK John Busch (5.5) – The fact that Busch played well and they still allowed four goals tells you what you need to know about how shambolic this defense has been all season. It’s something Sean Johnson as been well aware of.
D Lovel Palmer (4.5) – Did well to stop a chance DeLeon in the 66th when the centerbacks were caught napping again. Provided a decent shot/cross that almost found Gilberto in the 24th. His deflection of Espindola’s shot in the 71st somehow ended up in the net.
D Daneil Cyrus (4) – Has shown that he’s tall and mobile. That’s about it. Pried himself out of position to challenge Rolfe in the 39th leaving the back exposed and Pontius to roam free. There is zero chemistry between him and Larentowicz.
D Jeff Larentowicz (4) – His 300th MLS appearance will be one to forget. Constantly scrambling to cover or get back into position while attackers wiz by him, but that’s been the case all year. The Fire’s lame zonal marking on set pieces is due in part to the halfbacks inability to clear balls defensively.
D Joevin Jones (4) – A free kick attempt in the in first half stoppage time bothered Hamid just to enough to create one of the Fire’s few scoring chances. Constantly out of position on the left side causing further issue for the back line.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) – The Fire did very little of consequence with the ball but Nyarko did create a few chances. A 90th minute volley almost got by Hamid.
M Razvan Cocis (4) – His play on Rolfe while attempting to stop an attack in the 39th was an example of someone actually stepping up to pressure the ball but his soft clearance went right to Pontius for the first goal. Completely missed a mark on Boswell in the 67th for the second goal.
M Michael Stephens (4.5) – The Fire actually won the overall possession battle 53-47 but did nothing with it. There was little help from the central midfielders in moving the ball positively with any real meaning.
M David Accam (5) – DC defenders did a good job of keeping him in front of them and limiting his touches in dangerous spots. When frustrated he tends to try and challenge defenders 1v3 and 1v4. He didn’t have much room in this match.
F Harry Shipp (4.5) – While Shipp can provide excellent vision and touches from time to time he still tends to disappear for long stretches. He got another chance to play in the “10” role but there wasn’t much today. Did have one long shot attempt in the 18th.
F Gilberto (4.5) – Didn’t train for most of the week and it showed. Seemed a step or two off but did have a near miss from a corner in first half stoppage.
M Matt Polser (5) – Subbed in for Cocis in the 68th. At 2-0 the game was over by then.
F Kennedy Igboananike (5) – Came on in the 78th for Accam. A cross through the penalty area in the 86th was decent but as is usually the case, the Fire had no far post run to take advantage of it.