Friday, September 21, 2007

Chicago Fire 1-1 FC Dallas - How not to kill off a match

Chicago Fire 1-1 FC Dallas

So what do you think the Fire coaching staff is talking to Calen Carr and Paulo Wanchope about today? If it is anything but how to keep the ball and waste time at the end of a match, then the Fire are doomed. This was not a pretty game as neither side had much ball control. Again and again, passes were intercepted and knocked out of bounce.

Dallas did start strong, but then they faded. Carlos Ruiz is getting a lot of cheer for the late goal, but he was absent for much of the rest of the game. It is great to see Toja back, but his skill is not yet at the level it was before the injury. Then there is Denilson who didn't really do anything for the full 90. He is still new to the club, so he is trying to find his flow, but I was surprised that he didn't pop to life at some point. But somehow it was all okay as Dario Sala had a really strong performance in front of the net while Clarence Goodson carried most of the heavy lifting. Sure Goodson is a bit of a hot head at times, but he does know how to do what needs to be done (a little like Michael Bradley).

Chicago has got to be kicking themselves over this one. On a night where Blanco finely looked his age (not a good thing), they still managed to hold a 1-0 lead deep into stoppage time, only to see two points disappear. Matt Pickens had a good night between the posts, CJ Brown made some big moves and Chris Rolfe's blast was heart stopping, but other then that, the side was flat. But the thing that confused me the most was the way they ended it. Calen Carr has tons of energy, but why didn't he go to a corner and force a foul? Did he not get any instructions from the coaching staff telling him to hold it? If not, what were the coaches thinking.

Dallas is not a dominant team like DC, but there is one thing they know how to do much better then just about anyone in the league and that is come back late. I can think of at least three games where they have got stoppage time goals and a couple others where they scored late in regular time, so if it was the coaching staff that failed to initiate the 'kill the game' strategy, one has to wonder what hope the Fire have.

So how bad is it that Chicago failed to get the full three points? They are only two points up on Colorado for the final playoff spot with five games remaining, but two of those games are against DC, one is at home to New England and one is on at Chivas. There is a good chance that they will get 3 points or less from those four matches. The only good news for them is they end the season with LA.

The Crew have a slightly easier time as they go to Toronto, face LA and Dallas at home and then end on the road to New England and DC. This schedule should allow them to get 6 points (and maybe a couple more) for the rest of the year.

But the Fire's real concern is Colorado who have two matches against Real Salt Lake and one at home against Toronto FC, plus road games at New England and Chivas. Real is improved and Toronto can always surprise, but of the three in the race, the Rapids have the best chance on paper. It is not hard to image the club getting 9 points from this schedule and beating Chicago for the final spot by just one point.

If the Fire misses the playoffs this year, the final five minutes in Dallas will be one of the major reasons why.

Goals: CF: Chris Rolfe (5) 56'
FCD: Carlos Ruiz (7) 93+'
Attendance: 15,059

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Blogger The Wolf said...

Both Wanchope & Blanco looked slow & um well... old. Chicago needs to go for gold this year. Another year on both these guys isn't going to help Chicago's cause.

6:52 PM  

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