But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t stuff to take away from the match. Here’s what we learned.
The Fire Couldn’t Outrun Themselves
No matter how the club tried to run away from the sins of it’s past, it was almost inevitable that it was going to catch up to them.
The lack of cohesion, quality, and drive let the Fire down early on in the season and now the chickens had come home to roost. Losses to Cincinnati, Montreal, and San Jose, along with dropped points to Vancouver and Columbus, ended up making the differences. The front office’s failure to put out a proper roster at season’s start, combined with the failure of the coaching staff to figure out tactics and Nikolic’s inability to score as he had in the past, was a heady poison that killed the Fire’s season.
They need to take these as lessons learned into the off season, and come back in 2020 better prepared.
Nico Gaitán Is Not The Answer
The signing of Nico Gaitán was greeted with much fanfare and anticipation, and with good reason. After a bit of a feeling-out period, he was becoming important to the things the Fire were doing offensively, and was looking like a really solid player. In his first seven appearances he had himself two goals and two assists.
Then he got injured.
It wasn’t a big injury, mind. He missed only two games, the 4-1 thrashing at the hands of the Quakes, and a 1-1 draw with NYCFC. But when he came back, he wasn’t the same player. On Sunday afternoon, he was invisible for large periods of action, and his most visible action was him crashing into TFC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, ultimately ending his day a few minutes later.
Since his injury, Gaitán has not had the impact I want a player of his caliber. This team needed for him to single-handedly take over games. They needed him to be the #10 that can win games all on his own. That’s what he was brought in to do, and he has not delivered. That’s not to say he’s a bad player by any means. He’s one of the best set piece deliverers the Fire have had for a while, and sometimes he can produce magic. But it’s not consistent enough to be the talisman the Fire needed him to be.
The Kronholm Conundrum
Kenneth Kronholm has impressed the last few games, especially Sunday afternoon. He had several saves worthy of SOTW, and was more calm and in-control than I’d ever seen him play in a Fire jersey.
That being said, I still can’t get out of my head the early Impressions his unstable play gave me. He’s shown me that there's nothing to worry about in regards to his play, and yet I can’t help but feel nervous whenever he receives a back pass or when his hands come in contact with the ball.
Intellectually, I know he’s either better than or similar enough to David Ousted, but at the same time, I’d still prefer the Dane in between the sticks.
Those are our takeaways from Sunday’s match. What about yours? Drop us a comment below with your thoughts.