13 October 2011
Posted in Chicago Fire
Coming into Wednesday’s match against FC Dallas the Fire had won five of their last seven league matches. They had 8 days to rest up from the heartbreaking loss in the Open Cup final in Seattle, and FC Dallas was not starting Brek Shea or Maicon Santos. The Fire needed a win if they hoped to cling onto whatever chance they had at a playoff spot.
These two teams opened up the year against each other and played to a 1-1 draw at Pizza Hut Park in Dallas. As we all know, this was a VERY different Fire side in March than the side coming into tonight’s match. It didn’t matter. The Fire got down 1-0 in the 41st minute and they couldn’t come back to save their season. They allowed another goal right after halftime to go down 2-0.
With their season on the line, the Fire did not play like a side that wanted to continue playing into November. They looked flat. They were undisciplined. They were quite simply - bad. There has been so much hope buzzing around this team for the last several weeks, they had finally started to play well together and score some goals - and shockingly WIN SOME GAMES. I can’t understand what I saw tonight, but this club simply looked bad. No Marco Pappa because of international duty. Diego Chaves continued to look bad - wish he hadn’t played the full 90 (or at all).
I can’t come to terms with how disappointing this side looked tonight. So much hope that was built up over the last several weeks is now gone. Not only are the Fire not going to make the playoffs (again) but they couldn’t bring home the USOC hardware either. Another year, another empty trophy case.
The match got off to an ominous start when the duo of Chavez and Jackson broke through the Fire back line early. Chavez put a ball towards the net but his shot went just wide in the 3rd minute. 6 minutes later the Fire were almost hung out to dry on a quick counter attack that again saw Chavez miss what should have been another goal for FC Dallas. Realistically the Fire were lucky to not be down 2-0 before ten minutes had ticked off the clock.
The first real Fire attack came in the 13th minute when Nyarko tried to feed Oduro through into the box, but there were Dallas defenders all over it - just as they would be all night. Gonzalo Segares was shown a yellow card in the 18th minute and the ensuing free kick required a good Sean Johnson save to keep the scoreline level. The 24th and 25th minutes provided a lot of drama and heart stopping action as Dallas took a few shots at the net and Sean Johnson came up with two huge saves. If you haven't seen them, watch the highlights - they'll be on there.
FC Dallas defender Zach Loyd was shown a yellow card in the 30th minute. The 35th minute solidified why I think Dan Gargan is the most underrated acquisition that Frank Klopas made this season. After having Sean Johnson beaten and out of position, FC Dallas took a shot that Gargan saved inches from the goal line keeping the score still 0-0. Gargan would get a yellow card in the 39th that will see him suspended for the next match due to yellow card accumulation. FC Dallas finally broke through in the 41st minute as Jackson was finally able to put one away and end a 400+ minute scoring drought for the visitors.
Another yellow card was issued shortly before halftime as the goal scorer, Jackson, picked one up in the 43rd. Halftime came and went and just 8 minutes after the second half started, the Fire's season probably ended. Danny Cruz put the visitors up 2-0 in the 53rd minute and really silenced the sparse Toyota Park crowd.
The Fire started playing for a comeback right away, and in the 56th minute captain Logan Pause handed over his armband to Pavel Pardo and left the match in favor of the more attacking Daniel Paladini. The 58th minute saw the trend continue as the scorer of Dallas' second goal was shown yellow. Diego Chaves almost put the Fire back into the match in the 61st. With a free kick from just outside the 18 yard box, Chaves put a ball just over the crossbar.
The 62nd minute had a lot of people scratching their heads. After playing with the USMNT the previous night, Brek Shea was brought on to replace Fabian Castillo for FC Dallas. The action was pretty quiet until the 77th minute when the Fire brought on Orr Barouch and Josip Mikulic in favor of Gonzalo Segares and Dan Gargan.
In the 79th minute everything went sideways in a hurry. Pavel Pardo was shown a straight red card for his challenge on Ricardo Villar, clearly a move out of frustration with the situation. Pardo handed the armband to Cory Gibbs as he departed the pitch and he will join Dan Gargan on suspension for the next match against DC United. In the 82nd minute Cory Gibbs was shown a yellow card which means that he too will join Pardo and Gargan due to his accumulation of yellow cards. Danny Cruz was taken off for Bobby Warshaw in the 85th minute, and Warshaw came on just in time to see a beautiful goal by the Fire's Argentine sensation, Sebastian Grazzini. The view from the press box was beautiful. You could see the ball bending right into the top corner and knew there was nothing that Hartman could do to save it.
Maicon Santos came on in the 90th, and I'm betting he wishes he had just stayed on the bench. Within a minute of his arrival on the pitch, Santos took a Josip Mikulic boot to the face and was stretchered off the field. The officials added 5 minutes of stoppage time, and I was affraid that someone might get killed if they added any more. The game was out of hand and way too chippy at the end, and I certainly hope that Santos is okay.
Technically, the Fire are not mathematically eliminated yet, but I certainly don't think that they will earn a playoff spot at this point. DC United lost at Vancouver last night, so there's still some daylight - but not much.
Good news for Pavel Pardo fans - he was asked after the match about his expiring contract at the end of this season and he said, "Of course I’d like to come back. I was talking about this situation with the people from the Fire and they want me to be here next year. And I want to be here also, but not for one year, I’d like to be here for more years. I’ve integrated with this team, the club and the fans. I’m very happy playing here with the Chicago Fire."
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