The Fire being nowhere near the ball
Wow! Where to begin....
The Fire knew that Sunday's match was a must win. Instead of winning though, the team had their worst performance of the season, losing 4-2 in a game full of mistakes from both teams. The match was a terrible advertisement for MLS with dozens of misplaced passes, terrible refereeing decisions, and little creative play.
Everything that went right Wednesday night went wrong last night. The 4-2-3-1 was again deployed with the only change being Yamith Cuesta coming in for the injured Cory Gibbs. Unfortunately for the Fire, choosing to recall Cuesta instead of playing Anibaba was a massive mistake. Cuesta went on to have his worst performance in a Fire jersey, giving up a penalty and being at fault for the first Vancouver goal... and that was just in the first half! Dropping Jalil Anibaba who had a man of the match performance in Wednesday's game against Philly in his natural position of center back was a massive mistake by Klopas and one that quite frankly lost the game for the Fire. More thoughts after the break.The back line as a whole were very poor, with Cuesta and Mikulic having horror shows and Logan Pause looking exposed at right back. As I said in my last review, Logan looked good at the back against Philly but one reason for this was because he was untested. Vancouver ran at Pause and he struggled to keep up with the pace of Vancouver's outside players. Mikulic and Cuesta looked lost, misjudging balls, falling over constantly and losing their marks far too easily. On the left hand side, Gonzalo Segares again struggled, but he was overshadowed by the performances of the center backs. Sean Johnson also had a very bad outing, something that surprised me because his form lately had been excellent. He let a tame shot bounce over him for Vancouver's second goal before saving a penalty at the end of the first half. He then poorly handled a Vancouver free kick pushing it into the path of four unmarked players who more or less walked the ball into the net for Vancouver's fourth goal.
Daniel Paladini and Pavel Pardo both had quiet games in the center of the park while Patrick Nyarko and Marco Pappa were unable to contribute much from the wings. Sebastian Grazzini was also ineffective and looked sluggish at times before being substituted early in the second half. Grazzini did provide one moment of brilliance for the Fire, playing a beautiful one touch flick through to Dominic Oduro who finished well for the Fire's first goal. Oduro looked dangerous, especially in the first half, but the midfielders were unable to get him the ball in good positions often.
One of the few bright spots was the introduction of Orr Barouch who worked very hard up front, pressuring Vancouver's back four and getting a goal. Barouch was one of a handful of players who actually looked like they wanted to be on the field yesterday. After each goal that the team gave up, the players just stared at each other in disbelief, while Frank Klopas sat motionless on the bench. The only other player besides Barouch that I saw who showed any sense of urgency was Logan Pause.
The post match press conference also didn't inspire confidence, with Klopas saying little of note and therefore indicating to Fire fans that there is really no action plan in place to get the Fire out of this slump. It is debatable, but yesterday's result could mark the lowest point in the Fire's on the field history. The team has only two wins in the regular season out of 22 games and sit a whopping 29 points back of LA who are on course to take the Supporters' Shield. With twelve games left, the Fire are now nine points from the last Playoff spot and are in serious danger of missing the Playoffs for the second season running.
A clear and detailed plan not only from the current coaching staff but also the owner Andrew Hauptman is now needed. This has gone well beyond a slump or a dip in form; it's a crisis that needs to be addressed immediately before it gets any worse. Thankfully the Fire have a week to take a long hard look at one another and try to sort this mess out before the Red Bulls game this coming Saturday. If last place Vancouver can put four goals past us, then I shudder to think what a team containing Henry and Agudelo can do. It can't get much worse than this, can it?