Was it the slip-and-slide turf, the raucous crowd, the physical men in green, fatigue, poor officiating, injuries, poor tactics, or just lapses in concentration? Whatever the cause, the Chicago Fire collapsed in a 4-2 loss to expansion side Portland Timbers.
The Chicago Fire will be thrilled to get back on grass next week in LA as the northwestern turf has not been kind to them. After last night's physical 4-2 loss and only 4 points on the season the Fire now find themselves at the bottom of the Eastern table. Sure it's early, and there is a lot of time to turn things around, but the embers are dying and this club needs some oxygen and kindling (I thought Timber would serve as great kindling but it was too wet).
Fire Player Ratings after the break...
Sean Johnson (3.5) - The poor start to the season got even worse for the promising 21 year old. He struggled with distribution again early on contributing to Chicago's lack of possession. He was largely responsible for at least two of the 4 goals. On the positive side, he safely punched out a dangerous free kick and had a beautiful diving save.
Cory Gibbs (4.5) - Gibbs struggled so much that he resorted to aimlessly throwing his body around. It's no wonder he picked up a yellow and a nice head laceration.
Jalil Anibaba (4.5) - With every passing game clubs seem to be learning that you can find plenty of space on the right flank against the Fire. He anxiously cleared several balls out of the touch line unnecessarily.
Dasan Robinson (4) - I don't know what to say about Dasan. He disappears in central defense. We might as well have been playing a 3-4-2 with his lack of speed, poor positioning, and "casual defending". Mikulic can't return soon enough.
Gonzalo Segares (5.5) - He had some pretty nasty tackles, but I got the impression he was protecting his teammates. He defended better than anyone else assigned to the task and still managed to push forward in attempt to stimulate some possession and attack.
Logan Pause (4.5) - Logan was out of sorts. He couldn't keep pace with the Timbers midfield and his positioning and passing were painfully lacking especially in the first half. He did well enough as captain getting an angry Fire squad calmed and away from the official on several occasions, but it's the play that wins games.
Mike Videira (5) - Although he was defensively a bit stronger than Pause this time, he also struggled with the short passing/possession game and couldn't really control the pace of the midfield. Subbed out early.
Marco Pappa (7) - Main man in both Fire goals. The second goal was classic Pappa. He flipped a switch and almost single-handedly turned the game around. He needs help from the rest of the starting 11 though, and he needs to know when to look for it. Attempted to do too much on his own at times.
Patrick Nyarko (6) - He continues to pose a threat on the flank with his speed and crossing. As far as midfield possession responsibilities though, he needs to work on his control and short passing game. Seemed to find the lake a bit difficult to maneuver.
Gaston Puerari (5) - Quiet night for Puerari. He struggled to get open and get the ball, struggled to connect with Chaves, struggled on the water-logged turf, subbed out early.
Diego Chaves (6.5) - What a workhorse. Didn't continue his goal streak but did create plenty of chances. Always in a dangerous position, always looking to receive the ball. Unfortunately he needed a little more help from the rest of the starting 11.
Marko Maric (5) - Not on the pitch (if you can call that wet plastic stuff a pitch) for long as he picked up an injury. Seemed to calm the midfield down a bit though. Strong presence.
Dominic Oduro (5.5) - Brought some liveliness to the attack. Timed some great runs through the defense. Looked pretty threatening. Could have benefited from more composed finishing.
Orr Barouch (5) - Looked confident and worked hard, but really didn't create too much in terms of opportunity. Can we give him an assist for the own goal?
Carlos de los Cobos (4) - Hindsight is 20/20 but many will question his decision not to rest some of the tiring starting 11 and give the hungry reserves a taste of a hostile environment in the middle of a jam-packed road stretch. Had the result been different we surely wouldn't have a debate and would praise him for the 3 points. The blame for this result should fall more on the players than DLC, but he's got some tough decisions now heading to a short-handed LA on two losses. I question his decision to remove Videira instead of Pause, but Maric was a logical replacement. I wonder if he considered Conway at all at the half, and how seriously he will consider him for LA. Oduro and Barouch looked fair enough up top but I would like to see more of Paladini and Paul in the midfield.
Man of the Match - Marco Pappa
Flop of the Match - Sean Johnson