What would have you said if I told you before the first whistle that the Fire would be up by 2 goals and up a man by the 30th minute? Would it have been "the Fire are going to hold on to the lead and take 3 points from a miserable NYCFC team" or would it have been "the Fire are going to blow it and somehow leave points on the table". If you would have said the latter you should really be a odds maker in Vegas.
Friday night, Yallop and company travelled to New York to take on NYCFC in the small confines of Yankee Stadium. The Fire managed to squander a 2-goal lead and a man advantage en route to leaving the Big Apple with only one point in a match that was filled with could'ves and should'ves. First half goals from Razvan Cocis and Jeff Larentowicz (pk) along with a NYCFC red card left many of the Fire faithful feeling optimistic of the outcome - especially considering the Fire were up against a team that are now winless in their last 9 and have lost their previous four.
A David Villa shot was too hot for Sean Johnson to handle, and the rebound fell to Mehdi Ballouchy who slotted it home to pull NYCFC back within one at the stroke of halftime. Then in the second half, the Fire showed their complete inability to be ruthless - instead, they were toothless, and let NYCFC control the match. In the waning moments it was the former Spanish international Villa, who was able to wriggle away from most of the Fire's D-men and find an open Khiry Shelton who put the ball past a diving Sean Johnson.
Yet again defensive mistakes and an inability to finish off games left two points on the table that should have been coming back to Chicago. What needs to be done? Yallop has been saying that they are working on things in practice to get that ruthlessness in both boxes and the guys are showing well in practices, but why isn't it translating to games? Why is the season of disappointment spreading into 2015 when it should have been left in 2014.
Three stars of the night
My first star goes to Sean Maloney. Maloney actually looked like a midfielder that wanted to create offense and one that wanted the ball all match long. Provided the assist for the Cocis goal and looked to be sharp with the combination play between him and Harry Shipp. Maloney looked to have a little less influence on the game after Shipp was subbed out. He looked good but I am still going to say he needs to be better if this team wants any chance at silverware in 2015.
The second star goes to David Accam. Our most potent attacker on the night and drew the tackle in the box that caused the RJ Allen red card for NYCFC. Multiple times his speed was able to get him in behind the defense to cause problems. This Fire team is going to need him the rest of the season in order to be dangerous on the outside. The only issue I have with him is that he has to get that finishing touch. If he can finish some of his touches then he will become even more deadly and create more space for others because opposing teams will start to focus on him more.
My third star goes to Kennedy Igbonanike. Who would have thought that the Fire actually has a striker that plays like a striker but without the finishing part? Throughout the game he linked up well with Maloney, Shipp, and Accam. He worked hard to win the ball and apply pressure on the NYCFC defense. Showed the skill of holding up the ball and making the right decision and this is something that Quincy and Guly do not have. In my opinion there is no reason why KI does not start from here on out. KI was a breath of fresh air compared to the wrecking ball and lackadaisical forwards which are Quincy and Guly. He should get the start next week versus the Crew and who knows maybe he will be the forward that get off the mark.
Who were your 3 stars? Did players like Cocis, Shipp, or Jones crack your top 3?
What happened to our defense on the goals Friday night? On the first goal David Villa was able to receive the ball and still get a shot off with power while 3 of the defense surrounded him. This made it worse because no one picked up the run by Ballouchy which I believe falls squarely on the shoulders of Lovel Palmer. The second goal by NYCFC was just ugly as Villa was able to pass the ball to Shelton as he was surrounded closely by 3 Fire players yet again. These kinds of plays should not happen especially when you have a man advantage. Championship teams do not make these kinds of mistakes. Yes, Villa is a very talented player but still our defense has to do better in these situations.
These kind of losses - yes, this was a loss - falls on the shoulders of Yallop. He is not doing enough to get his guys ready. Are they not physically and mentally able to finish 90 minutes? Why on earth would a team a man up give up possession in the second half? Yallop has to do more to get through to these guys. Inconsistency, simple mistakes, and toothlessness after halftime are signs that this team has not been prepared well enough. If this season continues like this then we might as well kiss silverware goodbye because our coaching staff could not prepare the team well enough.