New York City FC 2 Fire 1 - recap and ratings

The Fire were doused with a humbling bit of reality in New York as they failed to push New York City FC out of the Eastern Conference title race and instead allowed them to come within a point of pushing Chicago into third place. To make matters worse, NYCFC was able to earn all three points while playing a man down for 78 minutes. Yangel Herrera’s second yellow card in the 12th minute presented Chicago with a perfect opportunity to take control of the match and reclaim the top spot in the East.

That control never came about. Instead New York City FC continued on for most of the first half as if the ejection never happened. The Fire were able to put 25 shots on frame but a good chunk of those were hopeful long distance attempts that weren’t close. It wasn’t until well into the second half that the Fire showed some urgency and put some pressure on NYCFC but the hosts had already taken a 2-0 lead.

The Fire struggled again to find answers against an opponent playing a man down. The first big test of the second half as serious contenders was anything less than a success. The Fire will need to win a significant road game(s) a some point this season if they are to keep pace with Toronto and stay ahead of NYCFC. This was a clearly blown opportunity to capitalize on some good fortune as they were also fortunate to avoid a 4th minute penalty kick call that would have put them down early.

The importance of Dax McCarty was also evident in this match but that should not come as an easy excuse. Toronto FC picked up a point in the same building on Wednesday night while playing without Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Justin Morrow, Jonathan Osorio, Tosaint Ricketts, Armando Cooper, Steven Beitashour, and Nick Hagglund. Giovinco also left in the first half with an injury.

Another big test comes next weekend in Kansas City.

Player ratings

GK Matt Lampson (5) – Slow to react on Villa’s goal and gave up a rebound for the second NYCFC score. Clearly outshone by his counterpart on the other side who faced 25 shots and made several key saves keeping his team in position for the win. There were bigger issues than goalkeeper in this game however. Did have one save of some quality in the 15th.

D Michael Harrington (5) – The quality in drop off from Brandon Vincent, who suffered a quad strain in warm-ups, was clearly evident. There weren’t any glaring mistakes but service wasn’t up to par and he Villa did find space between him and Juninho on the first goal.

D Johan Kappelhof (5) – Fortunate not to have been hit with a penalty kick foul in the 4th minute after tripping Herrera in the box. His deflected shot in the 45th was the Fire’s best chance of the first half but it was saved acrobatically by Sean Johnson.

D Joao Meira (4.5) -Faked to the ground by Lewis on the first goal and beaten to the spot by Brilliant on the second goal. Did have a decent sequence or two in defending Villa.

D Matt Polster (4.5) – Struggled with Lewis, particularly in the first half and seldom got forward enough to help in the attack as he typically has done.

M Bastian Schweinsteiger (4.5) – Lost the ball in the 4th leading to Herrera’s run and no-call in the box. Not as crisp in his touches or passes as he usually is. The Fire held possession (65-35) as they should with a man advantage but didn’t do much with it. Couldn’t get much going offensively against a ten-man squad. Seemingly lost the ball more in this match than he has for the entirety of his Fire career to date.

M Juninho (4.5) – Vacated the area in front of Villa giving him space to find the first NYCFC goal. Chicago didn’t have many ideas for getting the ball out of midfield and onto the feet of attackers. Something is clearly lost when McCarty is not in the line-up. Hit the goal post with a long shot in the 92nd.

M Luis Solignac (4.5) – Couldn’t find much room or flow in the match despite the advantage. The Fire struggle against teams packing it in because they don’t have width on the outside or anyone capable of breaking down a defense with the ball. The evolution of this game was not a match for Solignac’s skillset.

M Michael de Leeuw (4.5) – Since he’s not a creator, his role this season has been one of support and work. That doesn’t come through as well when the player in front of the backline aren’t on top of their games. The Fire need more from de Leeuw in games like this one.

M Arturo Alvarez (5.5) – The Fire’s best option in attack for much of the match. Tried to create and get some service in but close calls didn’t get any more significant than just that. Made a chance for Nikolic in the 65th, forced a good save in the 72nd, and also involved as the Fire for an equalizer late.

F Nemanja Nikolic (5) – Clear cut chances weren’t there but did try to make something out of those that he did get. Best chance came on a backheel attempt that was blocked by defenders after Johnson had come out to cut down the angle on Alvarez in the 65th.

M David Accam (6) – Entered the match to start the second half in replacement of Solignac. Scored a screamer after a loose ball came his way following a cleared corner kick chance. His shot in the 54th hit the crossbar and came down over the goal line. Continued to provide a glimmer of hope but another shot was well saved by Johnson in the 92nd. There can be little justification, outside of injury for Accam not starting this game.

M Djordje Mihailovic (5) – Came on for Polster in the 54th. Something can be said about placing HGP’s into a game of this nature but something else can also be said for the Fire’s lack of depth which would call for HGP’s to be placed into this game.

M Daniel Johnson (5) – Subbed in for de Leeuw in the 69th. See comments above and replace HGP with rookie. Active and forced a save in the 78th but also ran himself out of position with teammates attacking the box on more than one occasion.


Filed under: 2017 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • I was surprised not to see Accam in from the start. If Pauno was thinking that Alvarez would be better able to put in crosses - maybe thinking about set pieces? - that didn't work out. Seems that Accam's speed threat would keep NYCFC from pushing too far up, giving the Fire more room in the crowded midfield to play.

    I thought going a man up would be helpful given the size of the Yankee stadium field but we still don't have the creative player to break down a packed-in defense. Accam almost did that, and I think Johnson did well, too, to cause some chaos.

    With more time on the field I think Johnson could have done that, and learn how to also manage his defensive duties. I also liked what I saw from Mihailovic. While he might not have provided the spark we needed, I didn't detect a drop-off in play when he came on.

  • Alvarez has been really good the last few games. Might see him on the right in place of Solignac next game, assuming sense prevails and Accam starts

  • The fire just looked horrible from the first ball. 0 cohesion, horrible passes, a few steps slow on everything. This was definitely a team loss. I hope Pauno gives them a wake up call this week during practice. This can't be the way we approach games if we want to win the supporters shield/MLS Cup

  • My question is what were these guys doing during the Gold Cup break? It sure doesn't look like they were working on fitness. The fire were slow, out of sync, and basically clueless as far as a plan. This loss is on Pauno in my view because the team was flat out not prepared. Yelling at the team from the sideline to work harder is not coaching but a recognition that there was no plan. They can't work harder if they arent sure what they were supposed to be doing. All that being said, I think MLS needs to put the cabash on NYCFC playing at Yankee Stadium as that field is a joke.

  • Any word on building some depth on the squad?

  • Agree, totally disjointed and poor performance. None of the hard work, precision passing and movement we've seen from the team over the last few months. I don't see how that disappeared just because Dax was gone. And that was a man up.

    Only good moment was Alvarez' brilliant run that should have resulted in a goal. Worst moment was Klopas seeming physically incapable of admitting that NYCFC should have been awarded a penalty on Kappelhoff's challenge.

  • In reply to manyou07:

    ya, no clue how that wasn't a PK...

  • Meh, every team craps the bed every once in awhile. Going to chalk this one up to the long break. Guillermo, do you think Polster and Vincent will play this week in KC. TIA.

  • In reply to go fire:

    The LB from Tulsa, Jorge Corrales, is training with the Fire this week. My guess is Vincent is going to be out.

  • Wow, first loss in 12 matches and we act likes it's 2015/16. We should take a quote from our nemesis QB north of us - R E L A X. Not sure the performance warrants Vincent (out w/injury; more on that later) and Polster on the bench. Harrington did hold his own defensively, however his crosses were PDL at best. With all due respect to GR, Polster didn't struggle with Lewis. He never got past Polster until 40' mark - two crosses by Lewis in 45'+4 is very respectable by outside backs. I was surprised at the early sub, neither of the goals were Polster's fault and he wasn't getting high like normal due to Alvarez and Solignac also on the wing in a narrow field - same for Harrington on the other side. Go with 3 in the back and move Polster into mid. That's what Mihailovic played and although I agree the level of play didn't drop when Mihailovic came on, not sure we could go much lower.

    I thought our passing was terrible, especially by de Leeuw, Solignac and Schweinsteiger - bouncing balls, not to feet, off-line, etc. Were we not ready physically for this game? Too light of training and not conditioned or too strenuous and tired legs - quad injury during warmups before game for Vincent, if you've been to pregame warmups there is nothing strenuous about them, this had to have happened during training - IMO. We looked tired and slow to the ball, maybe the training plan didn't match the long layoff.

    Regardless of result at Sporting KC, the telltale will be do we play like we did against NYCFC (which we shouldn't because that is a terrible layout of an MLS pitch) or the 11 games prior.

    Vincent (if healthy), Meira, Kappelhof, Polster
    Schweinsteiger, McCarty (should be well rested) Juninho
    Nikolic, de Leeuw, Accam

  • Am I the only one who feels like we still haven't seen the real 2017 Fire yet? They have shown they are capable of beating less talented teams, especially at home.

    But every real test they've had so far they've either 1) crapped the bed or 2) had a giant asterisks next to it. Overall, I think this is a good, not great, team. But hey...after the last few years, I'll take the progress.

  • In reply to Shinny:

    I agree we are good, not great - yet. I believe we have the starting XI to get it done once the playoffs start. The team has evolved nicely over the first 20 games and should continue to grow. If you look back at the Portland game, that was a great tie when you consider we didn't have Dax nor Schweinsteiger and, an unfortunate handball in the box. In the NYCFC game, all three goals had 'eyes'. Villa placed that ball in the only spot it would go in, their other goal was perfectly timed and placed on first header and then bang-bang on the rebound, Accam's goal was barely outside the reach of Johnson.

    We are close!

    We need some adversity and the next couple of games will provide a clearer picture as we get ready for the playoffs.

  • So with Dom Dwyer traded to Orlando... How does that change things for the fire on Saturday?

  • In reply to edubs:

    Guessing their scoring threat is gone. Hopefully Dax can sub in in the 2nd half.

  • In reply to edubs:

    May not have Zusi or Beesler either depending on their fitness after tonight

  • Guillermo, I read that Spanish footballer, Victor Rodriguez, is being linked to MLS. Are the Fire a possibility?

  • In reply to jestrada13:

    Have not heard his name mentioned in connection

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    He'll be out there along with Victor Perez for Brian Sandalow's pre-match warm-up report. ;)

  • I saw an article online linking him to the Sounders.

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