A 1-1 draw at home against the fifth place team in the conference isn’t exactly a sign that things are still on the upswing for the Fire. Neither the Fire, nor the Red Bulls played particularly well on either side of the ball and the result was probably a fair one although Fire players and staff seemed content with the point.
The Red Bulls took a lead in the 8th minute from a set-piece play and the home team looked lost for much of the first 15-20 minutes or so of the match. The Fire rebounded and looked to be the better side in the second half but couldn’t put away anything but one chance in the 66th minute.
Nemanja Nikolic broke his 9-game goal scoring drought in knocking in his 17th tally of the season but some of the same issues continue to hamper the Fire. A lack of creativity in the final third makes it very difficult for them to generate clean chances and momentary lapses in defending continues to put them in the difficult position of having to create against teams that know full well what’s coming.
This was a contest between two playoff contenders in the East but it also looked like a match between two teams that won’t be playing in MLS Cup come December.
GK Matt Lampson (5.5) – The Fire only allowed NYRB five shots on goal and two on target. Lampson couldn’t do much with the Bradley Wright-Phillips chance, but he wasn’t called upon to do much else either during the match.
D Brandon Vincent (5) – In his return to the lineup, a cross or two looked promising, but New York defenders were there to clear when he did get a ball into the box.
D Johan Kappelhof (6) – Not only did his long pass over the top to de Leeuw lead to the Fire’s only goal, but seven recoveries, five clearances and five interceptions are pretty good numbers.
D Jonathan Campbell (6) – Also had a decent showing with four recoveries, nine clearances, and seven interceptions. Was in the picture for the NYRB goal, but it didn’t appear that Wright-Phillips was his mark.
D Matt Polster (5.5) – Not as effective as he was in the previous match against Montreal, but he was active on the right side. His ability to get forward does open up the offense some.
M Dax McCarty (5.5) – Completed passes well above his team’s percentage, but he doesn’t seem to be as sharp as he was earlier in the season before the national team call-ups. Some credit should go here for the Fire’s ability to limit clean looks on the New York side.
M Juninho (5) – Appeared to lose track of his mark on the NYRB goal although BWP wasn’t picked up behind him either. Drew a foul in a dangerous area in the 27th minute and took a couple of shots from distance, but doesn’t do much to help offensively where the Fire need it.
M David Accam (5) – Continues to play with an ankle contusion that is limiting him some and didn’t get many touches in dangerous areas. Hit the post with a free kick chance in the 44th.
M Luis Solignac (5) – Missed the net on a clean look in the 84th and had a very good chance denied by Robles in the 70th after he found himself alone at the far post.
Michael de Leeuw (6) – A fantastic touch to take in Kappelhof’s long pass in the 66th and leave the ball for Nikolic resulted in the Fire’s only score. Hit the crossbar in the 26th after working a sequence in traffic with Nikolic.
F Nemanja Nikolic (5.5) – Many of his goals haven’t been flashy and this one wasn’t either. Got himself into position, his strength, and ended his nine-game goal drought with a header that finally crossed the line in the 66th. That was his only touch inside the area in the match.
M Drew Conner (5) – As a substitution for Juninho in the 78th, his first touch was a giveaway that was cleared by Kappelhof.
M Djordje Mihailovic (5) – Entered the match in the 88th for Accam. Did not factor into much more than one unsuccessful pass attempt.
F David Arshakyan (5) – Replaced Nikolic late in second-half stoppage time, perhaps for some height?