Post-Match Chalkboard: And We're Back!

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

A look at the Chicago Fire's 3-2 victory over the New England Revolution from the Opta Chalkboard.

Saturday's game against the New England Revolution was easily the most exciting one of the year so far. Really, the only games that might challenge this one are the comebacks against the New York Red Bulls and the Portland Timbers, and the Red Bulls game was not that exciting until the last ten minutes.

So now the Chicago Fire have a playoff spot. Part of me feels like we've backed into it, but a part of me doesn't because, well, it's not the Fire's fault that everyone is kind of mediocre in the Eastern Conference. I realized today that Sporting Kansas City only has one more win than the Fire. That blew my mind, man. And first place New York only has two more wins. I have this problem of looking into the past and saying "what if", and the recent games against the Houston Dynamo and Toronto FC are really bothering me. The Fire could really be high up there in the standings right now.

The past is the past. I got to quit thinking about it, and I hope the Men in Red do the same. The Fire finally have a playoff spot, and they better hold on to it tight. They only have six games left, and three of the teams below them are going to be gunning for them.

Rios/Magee Connection

It seemed like Egidio Arévalo Rios was trying to be more attack oriented on Saturday. He attempted a lot more forward passes than he usually does instead of distributing out wide.

 photo RiosPassing_zps6a9ad34d.png

Rios only completed 32 out of 52 passes on the night. I think the low percentage of completed passes were due to Rios trying to catch New England off guard. There were a few moments during Saturday's game were Rios would win the ball in the midfield and immediately try to boot the ball back up the field to a forward.

 photo PassingMatrix_zps130e1f83.png

On the night, Rios completed more passes to Mike Magee than he completed to anyone else. In turn, Mike Magee competed quite a large chunk of his passes to Rios. It's good to see the two of them working together. Matter of fact, the goal by Juan Luis Anangonó started with a pass from Rios to Magee.

 photo MikeMageePassing_zps3e24a69b.png

Mike Magee had a busy night. He completed 42 of 56 passes with 5 key passes. He also put all three of his shots on target, including 1 goal.

The Return of Nyarko

Patrick Nyarko seems to be back and healthy. He completed 3 out of 5 crosses, 3 key passes and snagged an assist. He also had a tackle, 2 interceptions and 8 recoveries on defense.

 photo PatrickNyarko_zps0d555d40.png

When it comes to the 3 completed crosses, below is where Nyarko was on the field.

 photo 0af3dea5-79fe-4b01-87ed-4d7f8e221fb9_zpsc296510e.jpg

That is what I call getting behind the defense. Out of those three crosses, two lead to shots: Jeff Larentowicz in the 42nd minute (shot blocked) and Juan Luis Anangonó in the 54th minute (shot blocked).

Shooting the Lights Out

Speaking of shots, the Fire bombarded Bobby Shuttleworth all night. I think the Fire were a little fortunate that Matt Reis was shown red the previous weekend.

 photo Shots1_zps4807e203.png

Putting 10 out of 23 shots on target in a game is pretty good. The Fire put 43% of their shots on goal. New England did not do so bad themselves as they put 46% of their shots on goal. For Reference, I wrote about the amount of shots MLS teams take in an earlier post, and MLS teams average 13 shots a game (rounded up) and put about 4 of those shots on target for a rate of 34%. Both Chicago and New England were going above that, especially Chicago.

Using the new Golazo! feature at MLS, below is where most of those shots came from.

 photo Shots2_zps05ca8e26.png

Chicago took all but 2 of their shots from directly in front of goal. Although, this graphic does not include blocked shots like the chalkboard image below.

 photo Shots3_zpsef877f43.png

I'm thankful that my name is not Bobby Shuttleworth.

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