Well that was something, wasn’t it? The Fire avoided disaster by the skin of their teeth. This game was... a lot. Red cards, strange subs, and great performances by the newest members of the team.
But what exactly did we learn from the Fire’s 1-1 draw against Orlando?
The Fullback Situation Is Untenable
For as good a job Nelson Rodriguez has done this offseason, he’s still can’t win. Going into the January transfer window, everyone and their mother knew that the Fire needed to do something about their fullback situation. Matt Polster and Brandon Vincent were gone, and there was criminal lack of depth at the position already. NRod failed to do anything. And now we’re stuck with Diego Campos, who is a midfielder, at right back, and Jorge Corrales, who is very bad, at left back.
Corrales had another dreadful performance. When Orlando found success in their attacking third, more often than not it was his expense. Even before the red card, he was having problems being out of position and was indecisive at critical moments.
It may turn out that the red card to Corrales may be the best thing that happens to the team this season so far. Hopefully he stays off the pitch for the rest of the season and gets sent to Michigan or Indianapolis.
CJ Sapong is Everything I’ve Hoped For
When The Fire signed CJ Sapong from Philadelphia the week before the season started, I was both excited and worried. It struck me as one of those moves you’d expect from Kenny Williams and the White Sox. This was a move that would have been game-changing in, say, 2014, when he was in his mid 20’s and at the top of his game, but now just felt a little underwhelming. I was excited, however, because Sapong had potential to do some good things for a team that was lacking in scoring power off the bench.
Sapong has delivered in spades. Two goals in two games would be reason enough to celebrate. But it’s all the other things that he’s done as well. His hold up play has been really good when he’s played at the top of the formation. He’s always exactly where he’s supposed to be when he needs to be there. And he did all of it in two positions, too. His play on the wing was really good as week. I’m really happy with this acquisition. He definitely earned our MOTM selection this week.
Marcelo is Good
Speaking of good acquisitions, the signing of the season is Marcelo. Hands down. Our runner up MOTM didn’t put a foot wrong on Saturday afternoon. He was able to mop up the mistakes the fullbacks made, as well as contain the threat Dom Dwyer posed whenever they crossed paths. He was also instrumental in helping deal with Nani, who was Orlando’s best player. The Fire may have one of the best centerback pairings in the league, and that’s in large part thanks to him.*
* Yes, Dom Dwyer’s goal was the direct result of a screw-up by Johan Kappelhof. Even with that happening, they still were able to stifle him, Nani, and Tesho Akindele before he got hurt, at all other relevant times. That Kappelhof was able to recover from that blunder and play well otherwise says a lot about his quality and mental attitude. And therefore, the argument can be made that they are one of the best central pairings in the league.
What were your takeaways from the game? Let us know in the comments below!