While I did watch the Fire's game against Salt Lake Saturday afternoon, I had to do so not in my normal game day element. I attended a first birthday party for the son of a friend of mine instead of being at Toyota Park. The game was still on on in the background but at any social function there is so much going on, especially with kids running around, you can't have full attention on anything for much time especially for 90 minutes.
While watching the game (which was essentially watching for 3 to 4 minutes, then missing 3 to 4 minutes) - the thing that I noticed is that during the game there was so much inconsistency. One 3 to 4 minute spurt, the Fire would have possession and connect passes from the back all the way up field. Then I would walk away and come back, and the Fire couldn't string together passes to save their lives.
I was concerned that my inconsistent viewing schedule was the problem, so after coming home from the party, I watched the full replay. Unfortunately, what I saw then was still an inconsistent Chicago team that couldn't keep up with a well organized RSL team.
In honor of this inconsistency, I'm going to change the format for player ratings - again! I give you my
3 stars of match
My first star goes to Joevin Jones. He has been and continues to be the most consistent player on the Fire. Played well as the starting left back and when the Fire went down by 2 goals he was forced to play higher up on the left wing and became more dangerous. Supplied one of the most perfect crosses you'll ever see in the game of soccer with his deep, early cross into the penalty box and onto Kennedy Igboananike's foot. Jones has arguably been the best pick up of the off season so far.
My second star goes to Lovel Palmer. Yes, he should have came out to meet Jordan Allen on the first goal but overall he played decent defensively. It was the other side of the ball where his presence was felt. Offensively he was very active, balancing the attacking threat more than if Eric Gehrig started. He had two clear chances in the first half, one of a Shaun Maloney corner - (although that should have been put away but he put it into the ground and the ball bounced over the net.) The second chance was on a through ball from Maloney which he tried going near side but the ball ended up in the side netting. I don't see why Lovel does not start next week against NYCFC.
My third star goes to Kennedy Igboananike. The DP that has not seen a lot of playing time since coming to the Fire actually looked okay. He came in to the game in the 58th minute and looked like a striker that we needed. He hustled, he fought for the ball, and he had the best chance of the game from the Joevin Jones cross. Like Lovel Palmer, there should be no reason why KI does not start next week.
Where were you, Harry Shipp? I know he was not playing his favorite position of center mid as he had to play out on the wing again. To me he was not an influence on this game as he hardly touched the ball and when he did he only had a 63% pass completion rate. If the Fire want to win or even create more clear scoring chances, Harry Shipp has got to be an integral part of this teams attack.
What is going on inside that noggin, Frank Yallop? Are you thinking about taking a nap? Are you thinking about ice cream nachos? The one thing I noticed on the tactical side of things is that there was absolutely no adjustments made during the game. Yes, after the Fire went down by two goals, Frank brought on Igbo and Jason Johnson as attackers, changing the formation to a 3-5-2 - but any coach would do that if they are desperately seeking offense.
When RSL was playing a high pressure, there were no changes to help combat the high pressure. When there were moments of the game where the Fire's offense was not working and creating chances there were no adjustments in positioning or even switching the point of attack.
It seems as though Frank has a plan A and sticks with plan A no matter what in games like the one yesterday versus RSL. It will be interesting to see how Frank's game plan shifts as they head to the narrow field of Yankee Stadium home of NYCFC where the Fire are going to have to be more direct and not have the option of switching sides of attack.