The Fire have just completed a run of seven games against Eastern Conference, and gathered five (5) points out of a possible 21. That simply is not going to cut it if the Fire are going to achieve their 'lofty' goal of just barely making the playoffs. If last Wednesday's effort is what we are going to see for the rest of the MLS season, then Frank Yallop might as well throw all of his chips in on winning the US Open Cup.
The night started out well as the Fire controlled possession with the exception of a decent chance for Jairo Arrieta. The second half started much like the first half until - just like previous games - the Fire found themselves defending a free kick and the ball ping-pongs in the box. We've seen this before! Eventually the ball rolled out to Conor Doyle who hit it so hard that it just flew past everyone in the 18 yard box and into the net.
After the goal, desperation mode kicked in for Yallop and the Fire, bustling forward and crossing wildly - but the game could've lasted another 45 minutes after the 90 and the Fire still wouldn't have looked like finding the back of the net.
Based upon his post match comments, Yallop just doesn't know what's happening. To sum it up: Players are putting in a good effort on the training ground; key players are missing; the guys are super committed; Yallop is trying his best. I don't want to delve into his comments too deeply, but I will say that just because you work hard on the training ground doesn't mean you will get wins when it counts. Frank, maybe your best isn't good enough anymore.
Let's rank some players
My first star of the night goes to Razvan Cocis. He did everything possible to be as influential in the center of the field. He disrupted DC's flow in the midfield, worked his butt off to win a few balls, and even got forward at times. The play that stuck out in my mind was when he lost control of the ball while surrounded by three DC players in the 28th minute. He then fought through them to get the ball back, eventually threading a through ball to Kennedy Igboananike who spurned a glorious chance. Cocis should stay in the starting lineup while Sean Maloney is out injured.
My second star goes to Sean Johnson. Yes, the only goal of the game got by him, but I'm not sure there is a keeper in this league (on the planet?) that could have stopped that shot. He made three saves on the night; two of them were very good. The first was stopping a swerving shot from Arrieta in the 24th minute after Arrieta was able to shake free of Adailton. The other key save was a diving, one-handed save to deny a DC goal from the head of Bobby Boswell in the 49th minute. Maybe the rest did Johnson some good.
My "what the hell" star goes to Frank Yallop for two things that were glaring about the starting lineup: 1.) Why was Guly Do Prado starting as the playmaker, and 2.) Why wasn't Harry Shipp in that position?
I just don't understand Yallop's fascination with Do Prado in the starting lineup. The Brazilian was all over the field as usual and did not contribute as a playmaker at all. I'll give him some credit for supplying some solid defensive pressure, but that is not what a playmaker should be remembered for. To make matters worse, there was one point in the game that a cross was coming to him and it looked like he ducked out of the way. What's up with that? The only argument to made for do Prado in that position is that his size gives us the ability to attack through the air - but if he's allergic to heading the ball, we've moved into the realm of madness.
Moving onto Harry - Frank's stubbornness to keep playing a player away from his best position is driving me nuts. Harry is a central attacking midfielder and should be played as such. When on the wing, he was pinned against the line and could not do anything of significance. There were times when he kept floating inside to try to create, but it seemed like the bench was telling him to get back out to the wing. If Shipp is to blossom into the face of this franchise and be as dominant as Blanco and Nowak then he has to play his natural position.
My "I Hope You Never Wear My City's Badge Again" star goes to Quincy Amarikwa for this:
Thanks to Afshin Zahraee for the tweet and you can take it the way you want but in my opinion this should never happen. Hey Quincy, if had done that when Nowak, Kubik, Hristo, Armas, or CJ was around I don't think you would have made it out of the locker room alive. Quincy challenge: how about being a professional. For now, I'll just take the fact that my wish came true, and leave it at that.