Despite not being able to find a second goal after playing up a man for 35 minutes the Fire have to be fairly content with gaining a point on the road against one of the better sides in MLS last season. Only several big saves by Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman denied the Fire the full three points.
The debut of Uruguayans Diego Chaves and Gaston Puerari was a sucessful one. Chaves scored the Fire’s lone goal and narrowly missed another after hitting the crossbar early in the second half. Puerari was dangerous throughout the match and consistently drew fouls from Dallas defenders attempting to slow him down.
Carlos De Los Cobos started the match in the 3-5-2 formation that he’s favored this spring but switched to a 4-4-2 in the 35th minute in order to counter Dallas’ possesion. The home team outshot the Fire 11-2 in the first half although a good number of those were hopeful long distance attempts.
Disappointing not to get the full three points but an encouraging start nonetheless.
GK Sean Johnson (6) – Johnson wasn’t called upon to make many difficult stops despite Dallas’ considerable first half edge in attempts. He handled several long distance shots well although he does need to show some improvement in the air. There wasn’t much he could do on Rodriguez’ cheeky back heel that resulted in the lone FCD goal.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) – Making his MLS debut Anibaba was solid and mistake free. One foul call late in the game set up an FCD free kick in a dangerous spot, but the call was a rather weak one.
D Josip Mikulic (7) – Cleared several balls in the area and stepped up to break down Dallas counter attacks when he had to. He may not have the flash…or the hair of Wilman Conde but he appears to be a solid addition in central defense. Picked up a yellow card after grabbing Ferreira’s jersey but never got caught out of position in the middle.
D Cory Gibbs (6) – The Fire’s back line should be a strength this year as there appears to be good chemistry between Anibaba, Mikulic, and Gibbs. Picked up a yellow card in the 30th minute trying to slow down Ferreira.
M Mike Videira (6) – De Los Cobos opted for a more defensive look in attempt to control Ferreia and Dallas’ speedy wingers so Videira got the nod over Husidic. Videira also picked up a yellow in the second half with a foul on the reigning league MVP.
M Logan Pause (7) – Pause was the key man in controlling Ferreira and handled him well, actually stopping him 1v1 on a few occasions. Also rocketed a well struck ball in the 90th minute that could have been a match winner forcing Hartman into a save. Pause earned some plaudits in his first official game as captain.
M Bratislav Ristic (5) – Went out in the 42nd minute with an injury but he’d had a tough day until then. His passing was not as crisp as usual and he was beaten by Zach Lloyd to set up the lone Dallas goal.
M Marco Pappa (6) – His passing needs to improve if De Los Cobos’ system is going to work. His shot in the 93rd minute appeared to be headed into the left upper 90 but a fantastic save by Hartman preserved the draw for Dallas. Tried a few of his trademark long distance bombs (one with the right foot) but both were off the mark.
M Gonzalo Segares (6) – Decent match for Segares after a tough 2010. Did well to slot back into his customary left back spot yet still managed to get forward enough to cause some concern. Managed to get a header on target in the 47th minute which was saved by Hartman. Also picked up a yellow card late.
F Gaston Puerari (7) – Chaves scored the goal but Puerari’s play offered the most encouraging sign of the night for the Fire offense. Puerari forced Dallas defenders to pick up two yellow cards and one red card with his speed and pressure on the ball. He also picked Brek Shea’s pocket in the 6th minute which resulted in a dangerous chance but his touch after the steal was a bit long. After dispossesing Daniel Hernandez in the 60th minute, Puerari’s 1v1 forced Hartman into another spectacular stop to keep Chicago from taking the lead. He might have done better with the attempted finish or possibly could have passed the ball off for a better shot but his MLS debut has to be considered an impressive one.
F Diego Chaves (7) – Scored his first MLS goal on a rebound shot. Scoring poacher’s goals aren’t necessarily luck, Chaves appears to fit in well with the system the Fire is trying to play. Narrowly missed a second goal with a shot that hit the underside of the crossbar in the 49th minute. Was also active in other chances and tracking back to midfield when necessary.
F Patrick Nyarko (6) – His pure speed will cause problems for every MLS defender and he did change the dynamic of the Fire’s offensive look upon entering the game for Ristic in the 42nd minute. This is why he needs to be in the starting eleven. Nyarko’s passing however left a bit to be desired and he still needs to be a bit more selfish when a scoring opportunity arises.
M Baggio Husidic (6) – Entered the match in the 63rd minute after Videira picked up a yellow card. Was more active in the offensive third than Videira and could be back in the starting eleven against Kansas City.
F Orr Barouch (5) – Came on in the 76th minute for Chaves but didn’t generate much in terms of scoring chances.
C Carlos De Los Cobos (6) – Recognized the need to move away from his 3-5-2 formation in the 35th minute when the Fire shifted into a 4-4-2 to address Dallas’ control of possesion. Also wisely substituted Husidic for Videira at the right time. Picking up a point in Dallas is a good result but Nyarko needs to be in the first eleven.