On Wednesday night, the Fire ushered in the 2nd half of the season with high hopes of continuing to build off of the previous game, a last-minute win over Seattle. In less than 20 minutes, all hope of building off of those positive vibes faded away - the Fire faithful were once again treated to a display of soccer that's become far too familiar. Time after time Federico Higuain and others clad in yellow found their way easily through midfield and created chances in bunches against the patchwork backline assembled by Frank Yallop. Sean Johnson did his best to keep the ball out of his net, making several incredible saves, until the 41st minute when Higuain, with tons of space in the middle, was able to find an onrushing Ethan Finlay. Finlay stormed into the Fire's box and calmly chipped to the far side to find the head of Kai Kamara, as Lovel Palmer could do nothing but watch the ball fly past a diving Johnson.
The insertion of David Accam and Patrick Nyarko in the second half gave some hope to the Men in Red, but Yallop failed to adjust to stop the domination of the Crew midfield. All hopes of a two-game win streak went away as Ted Unkel blew for the final whistle, triggering a chorus of boos from the over 14,000 in attendance. This may be a foreshadowing of things to come as the two teams face off against one another again this Sunday, this time in Ohio.
Only one star
Let's be honest - you watched the game, I watched the game, and some people probably turned off the game - but everyone can agree on one constant all night: the play of Sean Johnson. With six saves, he was pretty busy and without him in net the scoreline could have been much much worse. Go ahead and take a look at the saves Johnson had to make and you will realize that he was the reason the score finished at 1-0. No one else on the Fire deserved any sort of ranking. Both the Crew and the Fire wanted the three points but the Crew wanted them more, were better prepared to take them, and it showed. The Crew had a hunger and showed it by winning almost every 50-50 ball, pressing high to cause errors all over the pitch, and just seemed to have more confidence than Yallop and company.
Now let's rant a bit
Speaking of Yallop, what is with his continuance of playing Shipp on the wing? Throughout the first half - really, until the introduction of Accam - he just seemed lethargic and uninterested. His passes were off, corners were subpar, and he was not lively on defense. Could this be a sign of a player that is starting to hate playing out of position? When Accam came on and Shipp was moved to the inside to play his natural position, he seemed to have a little more pep in his step. Maybe, just maybe, he is a player that can flourish in the CAM position when played there consistently.
Why does Yallop keep making excuses when he says he doesn't? There was this quote from his post game conference:
"I’m frustrated as hell as well,’’ Yallop said. ‘‘It pisses me off when you don’t play well. It pisses me off that we don’t have our players on the field, too. You get judged on what you play like. It’s not always the true picture, but I can’t say anything. It’s excuses."
Well, Frank, you are the one that built this team. You have no one to blame but yourself if you find that your roster depth isn't good enough. Every team has injuries, so get over it. Did you really think that Shaun Maloney was going to be injury free after all of the injuries he has had in the last few years? You think Jeff Larentowicz's body could hold up year after year? You think that maybe just maybe your talent evaluation could be subpar when it comes to finding role players that could be effective when coming into a starting role? I just don't know what he can do to save the season.
Frank, what are you going to do when you have your first-choice 11? What is the lineup going to look like? Who are you going to sit? Right now if everyone's healthy a projected starting lineup could be:
If that is about right, what's the plan for Shipp? Have his growth stunted by sitting on the bench? Does that mean Kennedy Igboananike is actually another Fire failed DP experiment? Does it lead to making the playoffs? What's to say that - continuing the way this club is going - it's not going to get worse? The results could improve, but unless there's a change in mentality from the top down, I don't think they will.
Speaking of the top, our absentee chairman/owner was actually spotted at the game Wednesday night. What did he think of the match and how the season is going so far?
... *crickets* ...
That's right, yet again he has remained away from the press. The supporters of this club have no idea what he thinks or how he feels about this team and its position at the foot of the league table. No other club, business, or organization would stand for its chairman/CEO/owner remaining silent to people that have a vested interest in that organization. What would the shareholders of Starbucks do if their CEO or chairman of the board did not update them throughout the year in live meetings and functions? Probably get rid of him or her, right?
Don't like a business example? How about a social organization like the Moose Lodge, or some other fraternal or social club? Mr. Hauptman has, in "the Editorial" and elsewhere, positioned himself as the source of the culture of the club - "the inclusive and authentic culture of our club starts from the top down" was how Dan Lobring put it in a piece which remained on the Fire website for more than a year. So he's the head guy, the 'top' where all this starts. What happens if that head guy doesn't bother to show up to most meetings or social events, and chooses to remain silent about what how things are going. You think that the members of the Moose Lodge would be pissed? You bet - so why, again, shouldn't we be?
Mr. Hauptman have some guts and actually face the fire (absolutely no pun intended). Why not let your customers, supporters, and investors of your "club" know what is going on? Instead of hiding behind Atul Khosla when you make a mistake, or having Doug Hicks tell us to imagine how you would be feeling, why not just do it yourself? Face the members of this club, if it is still such. Stand up and answer questions from anyone who cares to ask. Stop worrying if people aren't going to like you for what you say, because not saying anything and hiding behind BS canned statements is worse.