By Amanda Beemer
Last night’s match between the Chicago Fire and Colorado Rapids saw 13,607 attendees – a pretty decent number considering the mid-week makeup match happened to fall on the same evening the Chicago Blackhawks were expected to win the Stanley Cup. The second meeting between the two clubs had the same result as the initial match played in Colorado back in April – a 2-2 tie and bitter disappointment for the Fire. Head Coach Carlos de los Cobos summed up the effect of the outcome well by saying that the Fire “lost two very important points”. Although not a loss, one single point certainly isn’t an ideal parting gift as the Fire take two weeks off in observance of the World Cup.
Despite the result, the Fire were responsive and dynamic throughout the first half of the contest; when Rapids forward Omar Cummings scored in the 21’ (his first MLS goal since playing the Fire back in April), less than two minutes later Fire midfielder Marco Pappa scored the equalizer. Pappa scored again in the 46’, putting the Fire up 2-1 at the half. The Fire’s play was much more subdued in the second half, but they managed to hold on to their lead until they scored in the 90’(unlike Philly, this time the goal actually mattered); in the spirit of the Blackhawks I was counting on Pappa for a last-minute hat trick but unfortunately, no dice.
According to Head Coach Carlos de los Cobos in the post-match press conference, the Fire were “not the same team” in the second half. Though this is true relative to the first half of play, in reference to the Fire’s performance throughout the season the opposite is true. Contrary to prior matches, the first half saw Mapp actually playing an integral part by having good speed and making intelligent passes. Additionally, Nyarko took a flurry of shots, most of which were actually very near misses rather than completely random strikes in the general direction of the goal line. For example, in the 9’ he made his way past three defenders and took a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar, and in the 32’ he shot from very close range but the ball managed to swerve just wide of the net.
The return to form in the second half was characterized by a lack of concentration as well as general sloppiness. The Fire were unable to maintain control of the ball throughout the half, and as a result there were far fewer scoring opportunities. Once again, several substitutions were made to no avail, including Collins John coming in for Brian McBride in the 65’; John was undoubtedly looking to score as his first and only MLS goal was scored against the Rapids two months ago, but he was unsuccessful.
It is clear that the Fire had the potential but lacked the consistency to get the three points they needed, in both this and previous matches. After the match De los Cobos stated he will be taking advantage of the World Cup break to implement some changes and ideas he has regarding the players. Hopefully, in the next two weeks he can figure out a way to keep our defenders on track and talking to one another and get our midfielders to learn from their mistakes. Maybe he can also have a chat with Dykstra about how his job doesn’t end at the 89’ mark.
Amanda is a long-time Chicago resident and avid Chicago Fire fan, and has been following MLS for the better part of a decade. Although she makes an awesome spectator, she is a god-awful player. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org