As I was sitting in the Skyway after enjoying a great afternoon of tailgate weather with friends, I thought "how could this team lose to the most impotent offensive team the league?" I couldn't have imagined what would happen next. The ref blew the whistle to start the game - and the next thing you know, the worst offense in the league put the ball in Sean Johnson's net. In less than a minute! Boos rained down from all over the stadium as the Fire nation were dejected as to what had transpired so quickly.
Whose fault was it? The entire backline. Jeff Larentowicz was caught up in midfield trying to apply pressure on Kevin Doyle, who was able to get a little space to chip the ball over Joevin Jones to an onrushing Gabriel Torres. Torres then ran into the box and slid the ball across the box to an unmarked Dillon Serna. Where were Eric Gehrig and Matt Polster, you ask? They were both out of position.
1-0 is how it would stay for another 89 minutes. 89 more minutes of futility from the Fire as they tried to come back. Even though the Fire had 67 percent possession and 83 percent passing accuracy with 531 passes, the Fire could only manage a couple of decent efforts that were saved by Clint Irwin and a couple more that were saved by Irwin's posts. Was it just the Fire being unlucky? No, there is no luck in sports. Either you are good enough to win or you're not. Either you are good enough to finish chances or you're not. On either Kennedy Igboananike's header off the post or Gilberto's clumsy attempt off the post, a player like Robbie Keane, Sebastian Giovinco, David Villa, Obafemi Martins, or even Kei Kamara would have finished the chance off.
Unlucky? No just not good enough, especially on Saturday night.
Man of the match
It was another one of those games where I fail to find someone that truly deserves to be man of the match. No one on the backline should get it. Sean Johnson had total save for the match. No one in midfield really stepped up to take over the match. Mike Stephens worked his tail off but rally didn't have an impact on the match and Matt Watson was Matt Watson. Our wingers, Patrick Nyarko and David Accam, tried to create with speed and trickery but were caught in possession too many times to really be effective. Our forwards were just plain no good as 16 of the 20 shots taken by KI, Mike Magee, Jason Johnson, and Harry Shipp were off the mark. So who should it go to? I honestly can't put my finger on it - maybe you can?
Fun fact time: Only three players acquired since Andrew Hauptman bought the team in late 2007 have reached the 100-appearance mark for the club - Sean Johnson, Patrick Nyarko, and Gonzalo Segares (who still counts, even though he was drafted by AEG). Its too bad we have so much roster turnover year after year, maybe something isn't right and needs to be fixed.
If you were at the match Saturday night, you noticed people wearing black, the black banners, and the black wrapped around the capo stand. If you didn't know, supporters are fed up with the organization, especially with the de facto president, owner Andrew Hauptman. Section 8 were quiet as supporters either stayed in the parking lot during the match or sat quietly in the Harlem End during the match until two black banners were unfurled. Here is a snippet of the banners I took from the Skyway:
At some point Hauptman is going to have to face the music and accept blame for the sad state of affairs within his organization and his lack of a relationship with supporters. Don't get me wrong- there are some good people in the Fire's front office, but the damage that has been done on and off the field over the past 6 to 7 years builds up has made this kind of confrontation inevitable. I hope the FO tries to rectify the situation, and that the supporters will continue their protests until something is done. I will be wearing black to the rest of the games this year - and probably next year also, if I even choose to continue to invest financially into Andrew Hauptman's investment.
"I'm not interested in being average."
That was said by Andrew Hauptman in a 2008 interview with Chicagoland Soccer News. Congratulations Andrew! You do not have an average franchise, you have a failure. Maybe its time to face the facts you just aren't good enough to run a successful sports team.
Up next for the Fire is a home date versus the New York Red Bulls tonight. New York are currently sitting second in the Eastern Conference and still have a legitimate shot at winning the Supporter's Shield again this season. They have a lot riding on this game and will undoubtedly be going for the Fire's jugular Wednesday night. What do the Fire have to play for? Yallop still thinks that the Fire have a shot at making the playoffs still but anything less than three points on Wednesday will put that prospect on life support and the thought of the 2015 wooden spoon and 2016 preseason on deck.