This game sucked. There is no easy way to deal with this. The Fire had one of their worst performances of the season. Let's break this down player by player.
Sean Johnson: Sean had an excellent game. Easily the brightest spot on the team tonight.
Cory Gibbs: Cory had a decent game and hit a venomous header that hit the post. Shockingly this was from a set piece. Earned a yellow card for dissension that was him trying to stick up for his teammates. Not sure that it helped but it was nice to see. Can't really complain about Gibbs' overall performance to much. Along with Cuesta did allow Perlaza to get behind and have a free shot on goal in the 55th minute. In the 16 minute was beaten by Perlaza in the box. Was bailed out with a great save by Johnson. While both of those plays amounted to nothing it could have been dangerous.
Yamith Cuesta: Cuesta had his normal solid game except for the Perlaza play in the 55th minute. Both of his yellow cards were questionable. The first yellow was ridiculous as he easily beat the offensive player to the ball and cleared it. I don't know how that is a yellow anywhere. The second yellow I could believe a bit more if I saw a yellow given for obstruction on a regular basis in MLS. I"m having a hard time recalling the last time I've seen a card shown for such an infraction. Otherwise another decent night for Cuesta who now has to miss the next league game.
Jalil Anibaba: Had an OK game but appeared to be shaky at times. His distribution was again lacking. An overall weakness in his game this season has been his passing ability. He turns the ball over a lot. Now his turnovers aren't glaring and generally speaking aren't in terrible positions but he lost the ball most of the time in the right midfield during the Portland game. A surer hand at right back would lead to less offensive opportunities. Jalil's throw ins tonight were not very good. I suggest the long throw in no longer be part of his, or the Fire's arsenal.
Gonzalo Segares: Conceded the penalty. While harsh he did have a hand in the guys back so when he went down it looked like he pushed him. A major mistake for a defender. That was the only foul Sega was called for all night. I don't know what happened to him in Cyprus but he is not the player he used to be. Now he is a serviceable left back who doesn't offer much going forward. His defense is acceptable if average. Nothing about his play reminds you of the old Gonzalo Segares.
Daniel Paladini: Was subbed out at half. His first half was unspectacular and he didn't have much of an impact on the game. Took a terrible free kick from just outside the box. Decided to shoot and was no where near putting the ball on frame. A spectacular miss. He did take the corner that Gibbs put off the bar, not Pappa as is noted in the MLS article recapping the game. No issues with him coming off at half. Paladini's play has suffered recently. He seems to pair better with Bone than anyone else.
Patrick Nyarko: Patrick had a fairly good game considering how everyone else played. Was able to attack offensively and beat players off the dribble. At times he tried to hard to create something instead of earning a corner. This was not his best game but he did have a net positive impact for the Fire.
Logan Pause: Another game that leaves you questioning Logan Pause's continued stranglehold on a starting place. As usual he was solid defensively but was unable to control the game in any way. Looked lost at the end of the game when trying to get involved offensively when the team was pushing to tie the game. Why he was still on the field at that point is really anyone's guess. Ristic did eventually come on for him in the 88th minute which was about 15 minutes to late. Perhaps Logan will be more comfortable inhibiting the role of the single defensive midfielder behind an attacking mid that he excelled at when Blanco played for the Fire. We will see but honestly at this point I'd rather see Logan come off the bench. Somehow I don't think that is going to happen.
Marco Pappa: I want him benched or sold. Marco was fairly atrocious tonight. His corners late in the game were consistently awful. His overconfidence in his ability to get past players with his dribbling destroyed offensive continuity at key points in the game. He ignored wide open players to dribble at two or three defenders. In stoppage time he decided to stop the ball with his foot on top of it, wait for two defenders, and then try to pass the ball between them. This clearly was never going to work. If he would have played quickly and not waited for the defensive help he might have had something. But no he had to try to do the impossible again. He did have a few highlight reel worthy plays but so what. None of them amounted to a goal and his continued presence on the field was an issue. Marco continuing to take the corners from the left is one of the reasons this team hasn't scored off of one yet. He almost always hits them long and has done so for most of the season. Marco played centrally most of the evening and avoided playing defense like it was the plague (take a look at his heat map). I'm sick of Marco Pappa and frankly don't think his style of play fits in with the players that have been brought in. If the Fire insist on continuing to start him (which I'm sure they will) how about just playing him on the left where he belongs? Stop moving him all over the field like he can fit into any position with ease. He is a left midfielder. Plus this would allow Nyarko to play on the right and hopefully combine with Oduro who should also be on the right side of the field. Keeping our two best offensive players together for linkups would help out a lot.
Cristian Nazarit: I am not a fan. Seems a step slow mentally. Not a terrific passer who is also unable to create space for his own shot. You would expect him to be good with his head but I have yet to see him get a solid header towards goal. Hammered another free kick into the wall (50th minute) which seems to happen every time he takes one. Was relatively invisible for most of the game. He did work hard (which he almost always does) and tried to do things but was unable to. I was very surprised he was not subbed off.
Dominic Oduro: Another solid outing. He did try to create a bit more from the wing than normal. Had some nice ideas but the passes were either a step early or were cut out by the defense. He could have taken a few more shots this evening as he might be the best finisher this team has (someone has to be the best finisher on this team). Otherwise I had no real complaints with his play. He is drawing defensive attention which would be helpful if anyone could take advantage of it. In this game no one was able to.
Orr Barouch: I thought Orr had a very good second half. Created scoring opportunities and generally put himself in good positions. He should have scored as there was no reason to hit that shot as hard as he did. All he had to do was put it on frame (note: not on the cross bar) with some pace on the ball and it would have been a goal. I would have liked to see him get more touches in the second half but he didn't and that is the fault of the rest of the midfield. I like seeing him out there as he is young and talented and if we are going to draw or lose most of our games the young kids might as well get needed experience.
Bratislav Ristic: He hit a good corner from the right hand side. That is really all I can say about his performance as he didn't have much time to do anything else.
Coaching: Why wasn't Gabe Ferrari on the bench? This game was screaming for Nazarit to be subbed off but Klopas did not have anyone to put in since he decided to have Mike Videira on the bench instead (who should never play and really should have been cut by now). I did like the aggressive at half substitution of Barouch for Paladini but he should have put on some fresh legs later in the game especially with his team down a man (Corben Bone would have been a welcome site).
Overall: Kudos to Portland for taking care of business against a team that played horribly. Seriously that is what you are supposed to do. Take the opportunities as they are presented to you and run with them. This was easily one of the worst performances for the Fire all season. Shaky midfield play along with weak play from our Right and Left backs led to issues across the field. An emotionally demoralizing defeat for the fans and, judging by the body language, the players. Grazini should help but it all depends who gets dropped from the starting midfield lineup. Can he reign Marco's insane dribbling in? Can he help create better opportunities for a strike force that badly needs it? Can he take a corner from the left hand side? I'm not expecting miracles from the new guy but he has a lot of heavy lifting to do and I wish him the best of luck.
I'll be at the Man U game looking for Fire fans to commiserate with. Maybe I will see you there.