The Chicago Fire went into the Capitol City and ground out a much needed victory on Friday night. D.C. United had a majority of the possession and a majority of the shots, but Chicago stood tall and secured their 5th shut out of the season.
As expected, The Fire parked the bus for the second half. During those final 45 minutes, the Fire never had more than 45% of possession according to the possession interval chart:
Watching this sort of soccer from the Fire puts me a on edge. The Fire have given up nearly 49% of their goals in the final 30 minutes of games (22 out of 45). Luckily for Chicago, any D.C. United player not name Nick Deleon struggled to create solid scoring chances
D.C. United out shot the Fire 19 to 13, but only managed to put 8 shots on target compared to the Fire's 7. Overall, the shot quality rate for both teams is pretty good. For D.C., however, Nick DeLeon had taken 4 shots all night and put all 4 on target. Take DeLeon's 4 shots out of the equation, and D.C.'s shot quality drops from 42% to 27%.
Of Nick DeLeon's 4 shots, 3 were from inside the penalty. The only other shot from inside the penalty area was Conor Doyle's strike in the 5th minute that forced Sean Johnson to make an incredible save.
Speaking of the Johnson, Friday night was one the best games he has had in a while. I would say this performance might be his best of the season and ranks up there with the highlight reel he put together against San Jose last season. With 8 saves on the night, Johnson was easily the Man of the Match.
During the game, when Johnson did have the ball at his feet, he was trying to boot it up field to Juan Luis Anangonó. Johnson was 14 of 28 with his distribution on the night.
According to the passing matrix, out of Johnson's 14 completed passes, 7 were to Anangonó. Booting the ball up field didn't always work out, but in the 24th minute, it paid off.
Johnson's pass was not directly to Anangonó, but the ball still found it's way to Anangonó. From there, Anangonó proceeded to break ankles. Here is how that sequence looked in the Opta Chalkboard:
Near the bottom is the foul on Egidio Arévalo Rios that gave the Fire the free kick. At the top is 2 successful dribbles and an assist from Anangonó.
Bakary put in a pretty solid 90 minutes in his first game back from suspension. There were a few shaky moments like getting beat by Dwayne De Rosario down the flank as soon as DeRo stepped on to the field. In Bakary's defense, being isolated on the flank with DeRo is always going to be a mismatch no matter how old DeRo is. Also, DeRo saw that Gonzalo Segares was caught up field and ran into the space behind him, which created the dangerous situation.
it seems like the suspension might have been good for Bakary. On Friday night, Baky seemed to be sharper than he has been in a while. There have been times this season where the Fire have been hurt by their defenders being hesitant to step up and challenge opposing players. Baky didn't hesitate on Friday.
Soumare recorded 2 tackles, 6 clearances, 5 recoveries and 7 interceptions. If he could play consistently at that level, the Fire defense would be a hard nut to crack.
James Riley completed 72 of 85 passes in Friday's game. Those are some pretty ridiculous numbers for any player to put up. If a player on a team puts up those type of numbers, it is typically one of the center midfielders and not the leftback.
Even though Riley was doing all the heavy lifting, he wasn't alone out on the left flank during the first half. He had "help" from Collin Martin. In the first half, Martin completed 3 out of 4 passes. Martin then got switched to the center midfield when Chris Pontius came on for John Thorrington. In the second half, Martin completed all 8 of his passes before getting subbed off in the 59th minute. The only other statistical points Martin recorded were a shot off target and a recovery.
I'm not sure if what Collin Martin did on Friday night was a typical performance from him, but it seemed like he was just a warm body to put on the field to fill out the rest of the roster.