It started off well enough, but it seems that the Fire just can’t get up after getting knocked down.
Early on Friday, it looked as though the Fire might pull off something good, but ended up conceding two right after the other in the 8th and 9th minutes, leading to a 4-1 defeat on a baseball field.
What was apparent from the beginning was that the Fire looked a bit more like themselves, which is bad because they are the team dead in last place. The Fire’s attack looked decent, but still relied too heavily on David Accam; while the defense seemed to be ineffective on the left side (Hey Michael Harrington!) But it wasn’t all bad and all was not lost because Arturo Alvarez was just simply excellent tonight including the cross to Luis Solignac that was the only goal for the team tonight.
The offense tried really hard and honestly were able to cut pretty deep, but they needed to finish their chances. This NYCFC defense the Fire faced tonight is practically the worst in the league and it showed tonight. Okay, maybe not in the scoreline, but it was shaky. The Fire attack may have relied too much on Accam, but it was for good reason because New York wasn’t doing well enough to cover him. He was let go too many times, but the real offender for missing chances was the guy who did eventually find the net: Luis Solignac. He may have found the net on an amazing cross from Alvarez, but he missed another two shots high over the bar that should’ve gone in if they were even on frame. And though he looked good when he got here, Michael de Leeuw has been unusually quiet for the past game or two. Hopefully he doesn’t stay that way, but he was tonight.
Defensively, let’s just say Harrington had a rough night. The reason I keep mentioning Harrington is because he played a part in all four goals given up. The first goal (in the 8th minute) was a bad cross sent to his end, in which he stood there while his man headed it right to the middle where Jefferson Mena had just gained position. If Harrington were looking where he needed to be and got where he needed to be, there would’ve been no diving header from Khiry Shelton.
Next in the 9th minute, Harrington could not match the pace of his man, Shelton, who passed it on to David Villa who easily split the center backs. If Harrington could have kept his mark, he might have had a chance to at least let the center backs react better. In the 44th minute, Villa took out a breakaway into the Fire end. The furthest back defender was, you guessed it, Harrington. Harrington tries to go for the other man running on (which is admittedly a good decision), but Johan Kappelhof isn’t there long enough to make a difference as Mendoza pulls off an amazing chip shot on an off-the-line Sean Johnson. That one was on the entire defense.
The fourth goal came in the 83rd minute from Villa and on his last play on the pitch, Harrington got worked over. Harrington was up the field due to being a part of the attack as the team was chasing goals, but he still was the last person in front of Villa before the shot and got beat. Villa does that to a lot of people though.
While it may sound like I have a vendetta against Harrington, I don’t. He just honestly had one of those games where he was sticking out in all the wrong ways.
Though the Fire lost 4-1 and missed plenty of chances, at least there were chances again, which has been a positive trend lately. Sure Solignac missed two sitters, which is still inexcusable, but he scored a goal. Sure de Leeuw and David Arshakyan kind of looked invisible out there, but at least they didn’t kill attacks. The Fire even looked more offensive on counters. In fact there were still stand outs in the squad in players like Alvarez, Razvan Cocis, and Matt Polster. Polster almost even got an assist, while Cocis caught Josh Saunders off-gaurd with a ball that could’ve gotten a rebound in. These players all did their part, but their part wasn’t good enough when there is just one missing piece in a vital spot.
The team still has a foundation they can work on next year. This game didn’t really matter and I don’t think any of the games to come will matter that much either. What will matter about them is looking for the spots that need the most fixing. If Veljko Paunovic took my opinion into account, I would say this game showed Harrington is probably not the left back for the squad, starting or depth.