The Chicago Fire's loss on Sunday night to the New York Red Bulls was indicative of the season as a whole. All season long, the Fire have been a team that can play a solid 45 minutes in the first half, then lay an egg in the second half. It's almost poetic that, in a game where the entire season was on the line, the Fire would fall apart in the most spectacular fashion by giving up 4 goals in the second half.
With Chicago's playoff hopes hanging in the balance, this could be arguably the worst regular season defeat in Fire history. That is not hyperbole, either. The last time the Chicago Fire gave up 5 goals in a single game hapened over a decade ago. August 30th, 2003, Chicago fell 5-1 to the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.
Second Half Subs
Everyone, including myself, was upset with Klopas' substitutions in the second half. The biggest complaint was not so much with who Klopas brought on to the field but who Klopas took off. Patrick Nyarko and Dilly Duka were seen to be two of the most dangerous players on the field for Chicago, and to sub them out seemed foolish. However, after looking at the Opta Chalkboard, Duka and Nyarko started the second half incredibly flat.
ABOVE: Nyarko and Duka's passing in the second half.
Between the two of them, Duka and Nyrako played 39 minutes combined in the second. In that amount of time, the total contribution of those two players was 10 pass attempts and a foul won. By the time Duka was taken off, he had not touched the ball in over 10 minutes. Nyarko, on the other hand, was 1 for 3 passing in 16 minutes of second half action.
Prior to the first substitution, the Fire had only taken one shot (from Jalil Anibaba) during the second half. Being down by two goals, Frank needed to do something to spark a floundering offense. With Duka and Nyarko being completely ineffective, the choice of who to take off was pretty easy.
Who to put on is a little bit of a different story.
I like what Quincy Amarikwa brings when he comes off the bench, but it seemed odd that he was the first sub because he was brought on for Nyarko. Swapping a midfielder for a forward with a half hour left in the game does not really make sense. Having three forwards on the field who do not play together often could cause more unnecessary confusion.
With Quincy on the field, Duka moved to the right winger position while Quincy was on the left side of field playing high into the attacking third. In my opinion, bringing Rolfe and Lindpere on first might have made more sense as they would have been straight, midfielder-for-midfielder swaps. Bring Quincy in as a sub for Gonzalo Segares when you're ready to throw the proverbial kitchen sink.
ABOVE: Quincy's 29 minutes on the field.
Aside from his goal, Quincy also took 2 shots that were blocked.
Joel Lindpere not only notched an assist, but he also had 2 key passes in the game which puts him at 8 assists and 24 key passes on the season. Lindpere might not be the flashiest player, but he was one of the best chance creators for the Fire this season, averaging an assist or key pass per every 45 minutes he is on the field. Lindpere also completed 3 of 6 crosses.
ABOVE: Lindpere's 15 minutes of playing time.
In only 22 minutes of game time, Chris Rolfe had a key pass and two shots (one on target and one off target). Rolfe also had 6 recoveries. 4 of his recoveries were far up field outside of the Red Bull penalty box - 2 of which lead to Rolfe's 2 shots.
ABOVE: Rolfe's recoveries and shots.
Egidio Arévalo Rios did not have a bad game, but he definitely did not show up the way Fire fans would have hoped. Rios was not able to win the ball for Chicago in the midfield as we have become accustomed to seeing. Like every other player on the Fire, Rios had a good first half and a (insert adjective of your choice) second half.
ABOVE: Rios' defending on Sunday. All of the dots happened in the first 45.
Rios' defensive stats from Sunday night - 1 tackle won, 1 tackle lost and 5 recoveries. Unfortunately, that was all in the first half. In the second half, Rios wasn't able to win anything.
Alex had a decent game, but the offense I was hoping to see from him was not really there as he only completed three key passes.
ABOVE: Alex's passing.
On the defensive side is where Alex performed better. He finished the game with 2 tackles, 2 clearances, 6 recoveries and an interception.
Going After David Carney
Mr. Carney was able to start at leftback for New York on Sunday. After being shown a yellow card in the 37th minute, many people wanted to see the Fire go after Carney. Unfortunately, that never happened. Here is where Chicago went with the ball in the second half:
ABOVE: Chicago's passing in the second half.
Instead of going after Carney, they attacked Markus Holgersson. I can understand why. Holgersson is a 6'4" centerback being asked to fill in at rightback. That is a favorable matchup. Still, for the Fire to put no pressure on an opposing leftback who is sitting on a yellow card is surprising to me.