The Fire played well enough for a draw and possibly all three points but came away with nothing. A handful of missed chances, a bad touch, and another defensive lapse on the right side led to a blown opportunity against an Eastern Conference opponent on the road.
Chicago won the possession battle (51-49), took more shots (14/5 to 10/3), and had a higher passing percentage (71-68) than New York but failed to capitalize when they had to. If they can continue to win at home they will stay in the playoff race but the better teams manage to come away with something in matches like this. The Red Bulls aren’t the same team that has ridden to the top of the East in the last few years, largely due to the loss of McCarty and they are beatable. The Fire just couldn’t beat them….or come away with a point in a match where they were mostly the better team for large stretches.
Games like this come back to haunt teams that are riding the thin line between continuing to play past October and going home. This story is likely to repeat itself if something isn’t done to, at the very least, shore up the right side of the defense.
GK Jorge Bava (5) – There were the usual bobbles, straight-out-of-bounds kicks, and shakiness that has become expected. There wasn’t much he could have done on the first goal and perhaps he could have made himself bigger on the second but it’s hard to fault him for either New York score.
D Michael Harrington (4) – He was beaten on the first NY goal but there was a bit of bad luck involved as Juninho’s touch placed the ball back on Royer’s foot. His positioning on the second was inexcusable. Had he been where he should have been, Lawrence getting by Solignac would have resulted in a harmless clearance. It’s clear that Paunovic can’t keep sacrificing results due to mistakes from this spot.
D Johan Kappelhof (5.5) – New York didn’t have a lot of chances and only three shots on target. BWP was matched up frequently against Meira. A late clearance denied a possible third NY goal chance. Gambled a bit higher up, but was successful.
D Joao Meira (5) – Wright-Phillips got behind him on the first goal and he fell while trying to get back on the second. A late give-away almost resulted in a third but he did contribute 7 recoveries and 6 clearances and a couple of good switches in play.
D Brandon Vincent (6) – Quietly turning in some solid, if unspectacular contributions. Service in the third minute afforded a chance for Nikolic. Can afford to be more involved with teams knowing they can attack the Fire’s right side much more successfully.
M Juninho (5) – Still seems out of place and not quite as effective as expected in the Fire’s current set up. Struggled a bit defensively early and touched the ball back to Royer in the 37, resulting in the first New York score. Didn’t have many consequential touches offensively but did have a few good sequences defensively in the second.
M Dax McCarty (6.5) – The Fire’s man of the match in his return to his former home. Created the Chicago goal by collecting a loose ball and dancing by his NY replacements to find Nikolic open for his chance in the 59th. Did not touch the ball much in the flow of the offense however with 28 0f 39 passes completed.
M Bastian Schweinsteiger (5.5) – His quality is apparent, but for the second consecutive match he looked less effective than he did in his first three games at home. Pass completion rate was closer to the team’s 71% as New York’s press did have some success against the Fire midfield in possession, particularly in the first half.
F Luis Solignac (5) – Credit for being in position to have scoring chances but lost points by failing to put away those chances. Somehow botched a clear shot in the 35th, although the bungled shot appeared to hit a New York defender in the arm. Missed another big chance in the 66th when he couldn’t get a shot of successfully in front of goal. His missed chances were one of the main talking points after the match.
F David Accam (6) – Set up two big chances for Solignac with good passes but didn’t do much to generate his own chances. Credited with 5 key passes despite not having very many touches.
F Nemanja Nikolic (6) – Scored the only Fire goal and had three other shots on target in five attempts. Robles did well to stop his shot in the 30th. Staying onside has been a bit of a challenge.
M Michael de Leeuw (5) – Replaced Juninho in the 73rd. Drew a foul in a dangerous spot in the 87th.
M Daniel Johnson (5) – Came in for Accam in the 79th. Attempt at a through ball went to no one in the 91st. Will have do to more than dance around to keep earning minutes.
M Arturo Alvarez (5) – Subbed in for Solignac in the 86th. Free kick attempt almost found McCarty at the far post for a header for the Fire’s last real chance.