Stop me if you have heard this one before. The Chicago Fire came away from Toyota Park with a tie last night. Sound familiar? The final score was Chicago Fire 0 - Seattle Sounders 0. Sean Johnson came up with some big saves early in the game but he didn't record any other saves after the first 20 minutes of the game. On the other side of the field Kasey Keller stopped strikes from Daniel Paladini and Diego Chaves around the 30 minute mark of the game. Otherwise it looked like the players were putting forth positive effort but no one could put together a serious attack. As you left the game it was almost as if you were watching an end of pre-season game so all the regulars played at a high pace but everyone was holding back just a little bit. Not one player seemed to be playing at a higher level or bothered to locate a higher gear to get a positive result. More thoughts after the break.
Sean Johnson was on like we remember him in 2010. His performance bodes well for Chicago Fire success in the future. We can't rely on the team to come back every game. We can't rely on the team to score two goals or more every game. If the Chicago Fire want to win a couple of games this year, they need to shutout their opponents like they did tonight. Seattle had some great opportunities and Johnson met them every time. He had a great command of the box including on his main weakness of approaching aerial balls. There should be no doubt about him starting over Jon Conway. Johnson might have been awarded the Man of the Match by the team but a close runner-up was Daniel Paladini. Paladini played box to box forcing a diving Keller save in the 27th minute of the game and breaking up Seattle's attack on a couple of different occasions. This was Paladini's seventh straight start and I think we'll see him start many more times in 2011. Patrick Nyarko got on the field again, certainly a good thing.
Dominic Oduro is faster than everyone else on the team... by a lot. He is finding himself is situations where he beats everyone to the ball but he is out on the wing with no one to cross the ball to in the box. He can't shoot the ball because the angle is bad so he just rolls it back. This isn't a problem exactly but something needs to be done. Should someone else be playing right wing? Should Oduro be playing as a forward or a substitute? It's almost like in baseball where the other team walks the bases loaded and you go wild until you realize the pitcher is up to bat next. Or perhaps you build up a great defensive fortification in a video game but you have no room to expand outside. Oduro far on the right flank is becoming an easy option to make a play look dangerous but it is a dead end in itself.
Frank Klopas fires Carlos de los Cobos, makes himself the interim coach, and then puts out a lineup with 10 of the same 11 guys that started last week's game. The only change is Corben Bone starting in the place of Marco Pappa who is out on international duty with Guatemala's Gold Cup team. Even the bench was nearly the same except Patrick Nyarko returned from injury so he took the place of Pari Pantazopoulos. The substitutes were highly predictable with Nyarko entering first, Gaston Puerari entering second and Orr Barouch entering last. The formation was listed as a 4-2-3-1 but many times it looked like a 4-4-2 hybrid. Daniel Paladini certainly didn't mind moving up. The only noticeable change I saw in attitude was Logan Pause did not back pass nearly as much as he would under Carlos de los Cobos. I thought Pause looked more offensive than he has in quite awhile.
The beginning of The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again' is a hypnotic back and forth that almost sounds like the theme music to the Twilight Zone. Perhaps Fire fans were entering the Twilight Zone when they thought the result would be different under a new coach but it's more like the lyrics at the end of that Who song: 'Meet the new boss, same as the old boss'. The best eleven players are the ones we have starting already. There is little a coach can do to mix up these guys and produce different results for the time being. We just have to continue to wait for everyone to mix and hope something clicks. In the meantime, we are 6 points out of a playoff spot, hoping things will stay that way and the Fire don't start losing.
Chicago Fire 0 - 0 Seattle Sounders FC
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Bratislav Ristic, Yamith Cuesta, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares; Dominic Oduro, Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause ©, Corben Bone (Gaston Puerari 67'); Diego Chaves (Patrick Nyarko 54'), Crisitan Nazarit (Orr Barouch 78')
Substitutes not used: Jon Conway, Dasan Robinson, Jalil Anibaba, Baggio Husidic
Seattle Sounders FC: Kasey Keller ©; James Riley, Jeff Parke, John Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl; Mauro Rosales (Roger Levesque 66'), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle; Mike Fucito (Servando Carrasco 81'), Nate Jaqua (Fredy Montero 54')
Substitutes Not Used: Terry Boss, Leo Gonzalez, Patrick Ianni, Zach Scott
SEA - Michael Fucito (caution; Reckless Foul) 33'
SEA - Tyson Wahl (caution; Tactical Foul) 36'
CHI - Diego Chaves (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 46+'