Throw it away.
The Fire played their best game of the season a week ago and one of their better games on Wednesday against Los Angeles. But the Fire is still a thin squad and a road trip to D.C. on Saturday was just too much to overcome. They were thoroughly outplayed and lost 6-2.
These kind of games happen and, in fact, could help a young team like the Fire grow. One way to prove the recent good form was not a quick fad is to show a strong bounce back performance Saturday at home. They’ll have a full week’s rest and should be motivated to get rid of the taste of this loss.
But a 6-2 loss is still a 6-2 loss, so we need to get to a recap.
The lack of depth on the Fire was evident early as Veljko Paunovic’s decision to give David Accam a breather in the first half meant the offense was toothless. Though they tried, the Fire failed to create much of anything in the way of danger without the speed of their best attacker.
But even more problematic was the fatigue of the back four. It was easy to see this group was starting their third game in a row as all four struggled after the first five or 10 minutes of the contest. Brandon Vincent and Johan Kappelhof let crosses flow freely as they gave acres of space and once the ball was delivered, Jonathan Campbell and Joao Meira were always a step, sometimes two, slow.
Eight goals is a lot to recap so I’m just going to break this down simple.
- The first goal of the game was the best of the bunch. Even a non-fatigued defense would have trouble with this one. It started with an insanely good back pass from Patrick Nyarko at the top of the box. His pass found Marcelo Sarvas who patiently waited for Luciano Acosta to make an umarked run to the far post for the tap-in goal. It looked like Matt Polster probably should’ve stayed with Acosta on that one.
- Polster made up for the mistake right away. In the 31st minute, a Luis Solignac shot deflected way out to Polster who blasted a solid shot from 30+ yards out. Bill Hamid made an uncharacteristic fumble and the ball bounced to an opportunistic Michael de Leeuw who finished on the open net.
- Remember how Nyarko was a big part of that first goal? Well get used to that, cause he was a monster all game including on this one. This time Nyarko used his speed to race toward the endline before cutting a pass back to Patrick Mullins at the top of the box who buried his chance. Kappelhof and Campbell struggled on clearance attempts on this one.
- Campbell would struggle to clear the ball again about five minutes later as Mullins scored his second right before the half. Campbell slid to win the ball but Acosta got on it quickly and sprung Mullins in the box who beat Sean Johnson for the goal.
- BUT THERE WAS LIFE! The Fire scored one of the most ridiculous goals you’ll ever see right before the half. Pretty much Razvan Cocis kicked the ball as hard as he could from a very significant distance. The ball took a deflection off a defender and looped like a rainbow over Hamid for the score. It was awesome. 3-2 at half.
IMPORTANT FIRST HALF NOTE: Khaly Thiam was an idiot and got sent off for a completely unnecessary but deserved red card. In the 34th minute, Thiam committed a foul that could’ve been deemed a yellow for tripping Nyarko on a clear break opportunity. That’s all fine. But then he took exception to the call, talked back to the red AND THREW THE BALL AT NYARKO WHO WAS STILL LYING ON THE GROUND! So yeah. It wasn’t good and Nyarko made another big impact.
- Back to the goals. The second half was all United despite Accam coming on. And guess who got the party started? Nyarko! Every cross United took Saturday ended up being dangerous and Nyarko scored. Lloyd Sam sent in the cross, Steve Birnbaum headed it down and Nyarko did a quick bicycle kick in the six-yard box to finish the chance.
- Mullins jumped back into the action in the 74th minute. Sean Franklin sent a ball toward goal but Mullins came in on a diagonal run and got a touch on it to finish his hat trick and give D.C. the 5-2 lead.
- Nick DeLeon kicked a ball and it went in the net. No one cared at this point. This doesn’t matter.
The story of the game was Nyarko’s dominance for United. He was everywhere and played inspired. If the Fire was going to lose, it was nice to see Nyarko play such a great game.
A tired team playing with 10 men for so long never stood much of a chance against a United team that really needed three points. Sean Johnson deserves a shoutout for some really great saves that stopped it from being even worse, but other than that, time to forget about this one and move forward.