Quick and Dirty:
First half: No one scored. Jalil Anibaba missed a free header off a corner. LA had a few opportunities but no shots were put on goal. The Fire defense was up to the task in the first half. The LA defense decided to be overly physical with anyone who was born in Ghana. Yet they also gave up some decent opportunities most notably to a sliding Patrick Nyarko that had his shot blocked by a defender after the ball had appeared to beat the keeper.
Second half: Someone did not mark Landon Donovan on the far post and he put home a header off a David Beckham corner. The Fire struck back four minutes later when Patrick Nyarko got free down the left hand side and put in a fantastic cross that Christian Nazarit put home with his head. Four minutes after that a David Beckham corner found its way into the net after bouncing by the near post. This was an inexplicable defensive lapse. The Fire pushed after this but was unable to find the net. Nyarko and Oduro were the continuing victims of hard fouls by LA. A scuffle broke out in stoppage time when an incredibly hard foul on Nyarko near the Fire bench happened. Oduro was very angry and Mikulic was near the action from the subs bench. Mikulic got a red card for his actions (not listed in the disciplinary summary of the game recap which is odd). Nyarko had to be subbed off due to the tackle. Birchall, the perpetrator of the foul only received a yellow for his actions. Final 2-1 LA.
Daniel Paladini (caution; Tactical Foul) 64CHI
Diego Chaves (caution; Reckless Tackle) 91+
Chris Birchall (caution; Reckless Tackle) 92+
Referee: David Gantar. Gantar allowed a lot of physical play and things, predictably, got chippy near the end of the game. This was not the world's greatest performance. His handling of the stoppage time incident was poor. He didn't add enough extra stoppage time after Nyarko was chopped down and the ensuing scuffle. A serious gaffe by the referee and the fourth official.
Patrick Nyarko: Nyarko cemented his spot as the team's most versatile and important player with tonight's performance. He was active around the box and dangerous in scoring opportunities. His passing was excellent and he was able to get by LA defenders with ease when they weren't busy trying to destroy his knees. Worked hard defensively. A complete a performance as you can get without scoring. Easily the Fire's man of the match.
Dominic Oduro: Oduro was not as good as he has been the past few games but he still had an above average performance. His defensive effort in particular was strong as he was busy tracking back all game while a particular #16 was busy lolling around the midfield line. Oduro was a point of emphasis for the LA defense and his presence on the field impacted the game. If only we had an impact central midfielder to take advantage of his wingers being awesome (Oduro occupied the wing a lot tonight).
Marco Pappa: Did not impact the game. Wasted an amazing chance created by Nyarko by blasting what essentially was a sitter over the bar. Note that this would have tied the game. A below average performance. One thing that bothers me about Pappa's play is that while he is capable of playing quickly with good passes and making runs for others to pass to him he is much more content to slow the game down and allow the defense to get set. Tonight he had a few opportunities to use his speed along with the players with him to create opportunities. He did not. Frustrating performance from him.
Gonzalo Segares: Looks completely lost in the offensive third. Has many moments where he doesn't know what to do with the ball while the team has an advantage. His defense was fine except for not marking Donovan on the goal (looked like it was his man). I still believe the team needs to find a capable left back to be able to spot start for Sega when he needs the rest. While Sega is still an automatic starter for this team they need to find a way to take some of the offensive burden off of him or at least simplify what he should do with the ball when he gets it in the offensive end.
Other Players to Talk About:
Christian Nazarit: I know he scored the goal but other than that moment I hated his performance this evening. His hold up play was not good. He was unable to make a good pass when he managed to hold the ball up decently. On set pieces he was invisible. His on ball ability during the run of play appears to be non existent. I was incredibly frustrated by his lack of quality play in the first half. If he would have been up to the task the Fire would have had a goal in the first half. I'd much rather see Orr Barouch start at this point.
Daniel Paladini: Played hard and with heart. He was physical, fought for balls, and got his customary yellow card (7th of the year!). This performance shows why he should always start over Husidic. Yet he was unable to impact the game offensively. He is a much better defensive midfielder than he is an offensive midfielder. I would love to see him paired with an attacking central midfielder. Logan Pause is not that guy.
Coaching: The subs came to late. It was fairly apparent that Nazarit or Pappa should have come off earlier than they did. The way Nyarko was playing if you put a more productive and energetic player next to him good things could have happened. Instead Barouch and Chaves were not given enough time to impact the game. Barouch in particular was only given 10 minutes and he usually is able to make an impact when he is given at least 20 minutes. I know the USOC game is on Tuesday and I understand Frank's reluctance to go hard with his bench considering the importance of Tuesday's game but at the same time you can give your 20 year old striker 20 minutes on Saturday and still start him on Tuesday. Would have liked to see him sub out Sega instead of Anibaba when he put in Chaves.
An inexplicable defensive break down and a just as inexplicable non finish cost this team at least one point. This game was there for the taking but below average performances from key players cost this team points. Another frustrating result. This team badly needs an impact offensive orientated central midfielder. Maybe July 15th will bring us a gift? I'm not exactly holding out hope.