Points Dropped and an Achilles Heel

Recently, I had heard some one criticize the Fire for having a tendency to throw games away. I whole heartily disagreed with this assessment when I heard it. In my mind (which is full of rolling green pastures and abundant sunshine), the Fire have spent more time fighting their way back into games to earn draws, instead of throwing games away.

Since perception is not always accurate, and because the MLS season is so long that it's easy to forget some of the ups and downs, I decided to figure out just how many points the Fire have thrown away by conceding leads. I went through every game so far this season, and if we came from behind to tie, we saved one point. If we were ahead and tied, then we lost two points; that sort of thing. What I came up with after the jump.

Here is the table that I put together:

Date Match Points saved Points dropped
03/19/11 @DAL 0 2
03/26/11 SPKC 0 0
04/09/11 @SEA 0 1
04/14/11 @POR 0 0
04/17/11 LAG 0 0
04/23/11 HOU 0 2
04/30/11 @COL 0 2
05/07/11 VAN 0 0
05/14/11 @TOR 1 0
05/21/11 @PHI 0 1
05/28/11 SJE 1 0
06/04/11 SEA 0 0
06/09/11 @SPKC 0 0
06/12/11 @CRE 0 0
06/18/11 @REV 0 2
06/22/11 RSL 0 0
06/26/11 NYRB 1 0
07/02/11 @CHV 0 2
07/09/11 @LAG 0 1
07/16/11 POR 0 0
08/03/11 PHI 1 0
08/07/11 @VAN 0 1
08/13/11 @NYRB 0 2
08/18/11 DCU 0 2
08/21/11 TOR 0 0
08/27/11 COL 0 0

4 18



The surprising thing to me is the fact that we've only came from behind 4 times, and each time was a tie for a total of 4 saved points. Even more shocking to me was that we've dropped 18 points this season. Those 18 more points would put us in 1st in the Eastern Conference and 3rd overall in the league. So I decided to look closer at these games where points were dropped.

There have been 11 games where the Fire dropped points. Out of those 11 games, the Fire had a lead in 7 of them. In the first game of the season, the Fire took and early lead against FC Dallas before conceding a goal two minutes later.  The way I see it, this isn't a very significant lead, and the two teams remained locked in a draw for the next 70 minutes until the end, so I will toss this game out. This leaves us with 6 matches where the Fire dropped a possible win.

With those six remaining matches, I looked over a few of the stat lines to see if anything stood out. In three of those games, the Fire conceded equalizers, all on the road, within the first 5 minutes of the second half. Here were the matches:

4/30 @ COL - Omar Cummings scores in the 50' minute and the game would end as 1-1 draw

6/18 @ NER - Lekic score in the 48' minute and does a stupid little goal celebration. The games ends 1-1.

7/2  @ CHV - LaBrocca scores in the 46' minute. Another 1-1 draw.

The Fire have conceded goals in the first 5 minutes of the second half 5 times this year (including the aforementioned 3). The other two also happened on the road during their beat downs from the MLS newbies. Perlaza scored for Portland in 47', and Camilo scored in the 48' minute.

Conceding 5 goals in the first 5 minutes of the second half of 5 road games is 38.46% of all road games the Fire have played in league competition. This is a pretty significant number. It shows that the team lacks focus after halftime. It could be partly due to the fact that it's on the road.

In any case, this is a cause for concern going forward considering that we have 7 games left this season and 4 of those are on the road. And to top it off, two of those games are at the toughest places to play in MLS - Rio Tinto Stadium (RSL is 9-2-3 at home) and Robertson Stadium (Houston is 8-3-3 at home).

Some other things I noted:

-Beyond the potential wins that turned in to draws, we also had 4 potential draws that turned loses. All 4 of these games were on the road as well.

-With all this bad stuff happening on the road, the Fire have performed better at home. The Fire have only dropped 4 points at home while saving 2. The team also holds a 3-2-8 record at home. The Fire have held the lead for a total of 365 minutes this season; 282 of those minutes have been at Toyota Park. 161 of those minutes has come in the last three games.

-Speaking of minutes,  there have 2,340 minutes played this season (note: I didn't count added time because I couldn't find anywhere that includes added time on the stat sheets). Out of all those minutes, the Fire have had the lead for 365 (15.68%); been trailing for 522 (14.11%); and locked in a tie for a whopping 1,451 (63%).

-On top of conceding game killing goals in the first 5 minutes of the second half, the Fire tend to be the most vulnerable between the 45' and the 68' minute. The team has given up 12 goals during this part of games. That's just over a third of the goals scored against them this year. However, the team has finished games strong by only giving up two goals after the 75' minute, one of which was an own goal courtesy of Dasan Robinson. Here is my goals aginst chart with the games seperated into quarters:

GA 0-22:99 GA 23-44:99 GA 45-67:99 GA 68-90 Total GA
5 8 12 8 33

The Fire seem to get stronger as the games go on. Here is the Fire goals broken into quarters:

GF 0-22:99 GF 23-44:99 GF 45-67:99 GF 68-90 Total GF
6 7 8 9 30

And that's what I got. If anyone spots a mistake, let me know. 

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