I like this thing called winning. The Fire got things going early and never looked back against hated rival New England. The only hiccups came late in the game when things were just about out of reach. Nervous moments not withstanding, this was one of the better Fire outings all season.
Logan Pause got things started off right with a great ball in the 5th minute to spring Patrick Nyarko free on goal. Just for emphasis let me repeat that. LOGAN PAUSE got things started off right with a GREAT BALL in the 5th minute to spring Patrick Nyarko free on goal. Matt Reis missed the ball and hauled Nyarko down giving the Fire a penalty. Sebastian Grazzini buried it to put the Fire up 1-0.
Logan Pause deserves some recognition for his pass to spring Nyarko. For a guy who continually gets hammered by the fan base as someone who never passes forward this should give those fans pause (. . . . . .) before they make that criticism again.
Grazzini then followed up his goal with an assist to Dominic Oduro who scored by just running past a slow footed New England back four. Quality work by Josip Mikulic on the back line by winning the challenge that got Grazzini the ball. Dom's speed does it again and he celebrates in style with the never before seen "take the shoe off and bobble it between both my hands" celebration. Epic.
The Fire continued to play solidly. Then Grazzini fell down and signaled for the trainer in the 25th minute. The Argentinian's hamstring was tight again. This usually is a signal for disaster. Considering who he was replaced by (Baggio Husidic ugh) you will be forgiven for thinking that this game was going to end up as a loss. But the team continued playing well.
Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro combined in the opposite direction this time as Oduro fed Nyarko who used his speed to take the ball away from Matt Reis (who had a not very good first half) and dribble the ball into the back of the net. Great work from Nyarko who never quit on the play. New England fans should be furious with Reis who should have never let the play get that far.
At this point the celebration was on for many of the fans. Which is good since the second half was a fairly dull affair. The Fire missed some chances (Matt Reiss was much better this half) and New England also missed some chances (Johnson was very good in goal and Anibaba saved one off the line) until late in the game when New England managed to get on the scoreboard. I feel pretty confident that Sean Johnson was fouled on the first goal (which is a call that is almost always made) and it should have never counted. The second goal was just poor man marking on Ryan Guy who made the Fire pay. Caraglio and Fagundez worked some nice passing on the left hand side of the field forcing an over commit from the Fire back line. All it took was an easy square ball to an oncoming Guy for the goal to be scored. Nice goal for New England.
The two goals while slightly worrisome should help keep the team focused on improving instead of thinking they have things figured out. Keeping this team mentally sharp is just as important as their physical health at this point in the season.
Other Thoughts: So why Baggio 1st off the bench? I don't understand it. He, again, demonstrated his lack of ability to impact the game. The coach's post game comments reflected as much so hopefully here ends Husidic as the primary backup to Grazzini. Sega and Gargan played fairly well on the wings today. New England isn't blessed with a lot of pace at the moment which allowed both players a bit more freedom than usual. Sega in particular was trying to get up and down the left hand side. Matt Reis was serenaded by the Section 8 faithful to begin the second half. It was beautiful. Dominic Oduro with another goal has put himself in Gold Boot territory. He is two goals behind Dwayne De Rosario (best player in MLS this season hands down) with 5 games remaining. Frank Klopas is going to be tested over the next 2 league games as he tries to build towards the US Open Cup final. A tight league schedule is not being friendly towards the Fire as the final looms near. Klopas will need to juggle his lineups appropriately to field the best team on October 4th.
We will be back Wednesday night for Fire vs RSL. See you then.