04 October 2011
Posted in Chicago Fire
Before I get into the depth of this article and analysis of the game, I first have to first give a shout out to Chane Keller. As a Fire STH who lives about 200 miles away from Toyota Park, I thought I was the only crazy person who made that drive for the matches. In trying to find a place to watch the match tonight, I found out that he drives up for them also - and he lives about 30 miles further south than I do. A special thanks to Chane for giving me a place to watch the final tonight, and also for making me feel less nuts about the amount of driving I do to get to Fire matches.
Now, onto the actual match. First of all, we are still the Kings of the Cup. I don't care that Seattle has a 3-peat now, or that their new Twitter hashtag is #3attle. We are - and always will be - the Kings of the Cup. In addition to that, I have to say how proud I am tonight to be a Fire supporter. Our side played with a lot of class and guts tonight. They went into the most hostile environment in the US, and held on for dear life. In the end, it wasn't enough but I am not hanging my head too much.
Okay, first, to all of the Section 8er's that made the trip out there tonight, good on you. You were outnumbered by about 35,000 people, and there were times where I could faintly hear your chants and songs over the Sounders supporters. The section looked great all match, and the number of flags waving was awesome. Way to do it right.
Now, I don't even know where to begin with the actual play. I guess I'll start with the Fire MVP for this match.
Sean Johnson - Absolutely incredible performance. This match could've easily been 4 maybe 5-0. He's young, talented, and just a joy to watch. He is only going to get better - which should be scary for the rest of MLS. He deserves another call-up to the national team, more people should know about him. I thought he played incredibly well, and he is a huge reason that the Fire were in this game until the very end.
Marco Pappa - I officially take back every negative thing I've said prior to the RSL game. There was a stretch where Pappa frustrated the hell out of me, and I thought he was just pressing too hard. The RSL match seemed to flip a switch for him. I was a little hesitant to be overly excited for fear that it might grow his ego even more, but I think he played very well tonight. A couple of great shots from distance that get by most people not named Kasey Keller.
Cory Gibbs - How many times did he come up huge for the Fire tonight? There were times where Josip Mikulic looked like he was in trouble, and Gibbs was there to help him out. He's a great defender, and it can't be said enough that when he's on the pitch, the Fire back line looks better all across.
Dan Gargan - Wow. Another great performance by the most underrated Fire player out there. It was a shame to see him walk off looking like he was on another planet, but I think he played an awesome game as well.
Pavel Pardo - Besides SJ, I think he may have had the biggest impact for the Fire tonight. How many times did he get in between a Sounders player and the ball? He saved a few errant passes by our side and intercepted a few by their side. Another good performance by Pavel, and I continue to be proven wrong in my assertion that he was too old and un-fit to be a valuable addition to this club.
Dominic Oduro - Had no room to work. His speed was completely neutralized out there and he just had no space to do what he does best.
Patrick Nyarko - Pretty much the same as Dom, I felt like every time he tried to cross the ball in or do anything he was surrounded by highlighter colored shirts.
Daniel Paladini - I don't know what to say. I love the guy, love the way he plays - one of my favorite guys on the club. That being said, he played poorly and I don't think he's who you want out there on a daily basis if you're trying to win hardware. He's a great player for a mediocre club - but if we're trying to move away from being mediocre, he can't be starting in big matches. I understand there was really no choice here, but he's too hit or miss.
Gonzalo Segares - Overall, pretty happy with what Sega brought tonight, much better than the Sega we saw early on.
Josip Mikulic - I can't say enough times how much better I think this team is when Anibaba is playing and Mikulic isn't. I'm sorry, he is a great tackler, but he just can't run with the attacking players in this league. He's not fast enough or agile enough, and that causes problems along the back line for this club. I was not impressed by him - once again.
Logan Pause - I really wanted this win for our captain. I mean - REALLY wanted it to happen for him. Thought he played well, not too much to say about it, nothing spectacular and nothing horrendous.
Frank Klopas - I was furious that we didn't see Grazzini earlier. But then I heard Frank say that Sebastian could've only given about ten minutes. I don't know what else he could've done. I will say that I'd rather see Orr Barouch in there instead of Diego Chaves, but other than that I don't have a lot of complaints about the way this game was managed. I still want Frank back next year.
This was probably one of the best matches I've seen this year. The Fire showed so much heart and passion to weather the storm early, and come out in the second half really looking to change the tide of this match. Unfortunately they couldn't do it, and the two Sounders players I mentioned in my pre-match preview (Keller and Fredy Montero) were the two that really killed us.
I was disappointed with how chippy the game got at the end, and there's about 3 new Sounders players on my list now, but when you have that much passion out there on one pitch, it's hard to avoid. I was thoroughly impressed with the performance of both sides' defenses tonight. Seattle shut down the speed of Dom and Patrick, and they made it impossible for the Fire to play their game. Well done.
All in all, I was driving home very upset about the outcome. After having a little time to collect myself I'm ready to move forward to the rest of this MLS campaign, and to next year. This is going to be one scary team for the foreseeable future. There is too much good, young talent. Well done tonight guys, you made me proud - FIRE TIL I DIE.
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