AS IT HAPPENED MLS Game 19: Fire vs. D.C. United

Alright, so I had to miss this game last night to sling d'ouvres for rich people getting married so I'm going to watch it right now and offer thoughts. You know how it's done by now. Mad Gregg has done a great job recapping the glorious CONCACAF Champions League so expect something similar to that. I should note that I already know the final score and I know that Chris Rolfe had a good night (and a good game) and Joel Lindpere also played well. That's about it. I haven't seen the highlights or anything.

Alright, here we go.

PRE-GAME: Paladini is rockin' a swanky pink shirt and some nice scruff for his interview. Ok, that tackle was a little overzealous, but hey, whatever.

PRE-GAME: Ah, yes, the media game. Wish I could have gone again this year. Last year it was killer hot and I played pretty bad. Also, the Toyota Park field is larger than it looks, especially on TV.

PRE-GAME: That mobile app schtick between Dan Kelly and Kevin Egan was delightfully awful. Even Egan said it was cheesy while laughing.

PRE-GAME: Ok, lineups. DCU: Willis; Korb, Woolard, White, Kemp; Nyassi, Thorrington (capt.), Kitchen, DeLeon; Ruiz, Silva Joe Willis gets the start in goal as Bouna Condoul Bill Hamid is with the Nats. Former Fire defender Daniel Woolard leads a back line of absolute nobodies, Saina Nyassi is a depth winger who starts, no Chris Pontius or DeRo, El Pescadito Carlos Ruiz is a shadow of his old self and isn't much fun to hate anymore, and Luis Silva gets the debut start and may be a danger. FIRE: Tornaghi; Segares, Soumare, Berry, Anibaba; Lindpere, Alex, Larentowicz (capt.), Duka; Magee, Rolfe Fire playing their strongest available lineup wasting another opportunity to season some kids. Nyarko sits for strep throat but also badly needed a rest to heal some bumps and bruises he has acquired throughout the season. Logan Pause is available for selection but sits in favor of Larentowicz. I have no problem with this move since Larentowicz is a serviceable holding mid and has been in good form lately. It's his spot to lose, though this is still Pause's team. Regardless, Big Red plays and that's fine.

PRE-GAME: Teams coming out of the tunnel is always awesome. I love the MLS Anthem. Fuck all the haters. Ginger Ninja leads the Fire and Johnny Thorrington leads D.C. Always nice to see Thorrington with the armband. We had to move on, Johnny, but I still miss you.

PRE-GAME: Great crowd shots during an exceptionally terrible rendition of the National Anthem. One of them featured the very handsome Joe Tollefson singing his heart out while Jersey Pete was laughing and presumably asking, "Who is this fucking guy?" and another quick shot showed Tweed with the wife.

KICKOFF: Section 8 looks/sounds great. Fire players huddling, nice shot of the handful of D.C. fans supporting the away team. And, here we go.

23": A quick one-two between Silva and Ruiz almost exposes the centerbacks already.

2': ROLFE!!!! Goal FIRE! Great work from Lindpere on the left side to send in a perfect lobbed cross to Rolfe's foot to guide it past a completely lost Joe Willis. No defensive pressure on Lindpere, Woolard lost Rolfe, and Willis in no mans land. Awful defending from D.C. there. Nice to see the Fire get on the board early for a change.

4': D.C. United passing is completely aimless in the midfield.

5': Magee pressing at the midfield line putting the D.C. defenders under pressure leading to a number of missed passes.

6': Alex turns the ball over as he can't handle a crisp pass from Soumare.

7': Thorrington takes a free kick headed by a D.C. attacker, but the second ball headed away from Berry. Good defending there.

9': Good stats from Kevin Egan as D.C. has bolstered their defense in early weeks while the Fire are leaking goals. Fire are scoring consistently and D.C. can't find the back of the net.

11': LINDPERE!!!! Goal FIRE! Larentowicz takes the ball and runs down the right channel burning then nutmegging Woolard before finding Lindpere all alone at the top of the box to finish with authority. Great buildup, great goal. 2-0 Fire.

12': Replays show Rolfe's checking run almost brings a defender into the passing lane to Lindpere. A hard run to the near post may have been much more effective.

14': Kitchen with a terrible corner that negates the danger. Tornaghi catches an errant cross that goes right to his chest.

16': Fire still pressing high as Carlos Ruiz gets his pass intercepted in the defensive third. Nothing comes from the turnover. Ruiz gets the ball back and sends a 30 yard shot well over the ball.

17': Sound mixer has Section 8 pumped up loud and sounding great.

18': Nyassi dances past Larentowicz and unleashes a tame shot yards wide. Tornaghi yells at his defense for not closing down an attacking player at the top of the box.

20': Nyassi sends a cross to Tornaghi with no one else in sight.

21': De Leon finds room to cross and... well, fucks it all to hell. D.C. is getting more space to operate in the attack but is doing sweet fuck-all with it.

22': Silva gets a shot off that was well blocked by Berry and rolls to Tornaghi.

23': De Leon making a wide open run down the left but Thorrington's cross is out of reach. Johnny knows he can do better than that.

24': Duka with a great run down the left but his low cross is just behind Rolfe making a run at the near post and just ahead of Lindpere near the penalty area. Good movement, good pass, just not quite there. Alex passes back to Tornaghi, but his unpressured clearance goes right out of bounds. For me, Tornaghi's biggest weakness is his distribution. He's good for at least two or three long balls directly out of bounds. Tornaghi's turnover goes unpunished.

25': Berry breaks up a bad touch from Ruiz and springs Duka for the counter. Duka finds Rolfe with centerbacks on both sides of him on a breakaway but his shot goes just wide.

27': Duka called for a foul. He did reach in from behind, but did get ball. Tough call. Thorrington's free kick comes to nothing.

28': Larentowicz seems to be everywhere. Another strong game for him after a half hour.

29': Ruiz SCREAMING at the linesman for the offside call. Fuck off, fish.

30': Alex trying to find Lindpere out wide with a through ball, but Lindpere is comically slow. Korb clears the danger easily.

31': Anibaba with a terrible cross that is half-cleared by Thorrington. Alex picks the ball up and Thorrington hacks him down with a vintage Thorrington tackle. No yellow card, even though it probably should have been.

32': Magee's free kick found Berry in no position to get a dangerous head on the ball. Second ball cleared out easily. Magee seems to be playing well, but not amazing like he has been since coming back home.

33': Dan Kelly asking Coach Klopas the key to the game. I thought Klopas was going to say, "It was the honey, kurwa" but no such luck. Instead he says "We can't goof around and give away chances like this" when Duka can't finish past Willis. Baky intercepts Thorrington's pass well and almost gets the ball taken away from him. Larentowicz and Thorrington engage in battle for a 50/50 ball with the Fire captain winning.

35': Dan Kelly calls Arne Friedrich the "Elegant German" just as Soumare looks like a drunken foal on ice skates with the ball at his feet.

37': Kevin Egan makes a great point of D.C. players winning second balls and winning headers in the box. He's right, and thankfully the Fire are playing an awful D.C. team otherwise the scoreline could have been reversed.

38': Holy shit, "Tequila" sounds amazing on TV.

39': Taylor Kemp with a terrible touch as the ball goes out of bounds. I don't know who that is either, but if he keeps playing he has a better chance of being someone than a Hunter Jumper who only dresses occasionally.

41': De Leon lets a ball go over his foot and out of bounds with no pressure on him. Dan Kelly: "De Leon has been fighting it all night tonight." I believe the correct word would have been "gargling" instead of "fighting", Dan.

42': Another D.C. corner that gets cleared away for a D.C. player to recover the second ball. Poor cross from Thorrington goes straight to Berry and Ruiz clobbers him from behind. No call for the dirty fish.

44': Fire defending deeper with the end of the half looming. Tornaghi stretches to save a deflected long range Thorrington shot. Great goalkeeping from the Italian there.

45+1': ROLFE!!!! Goal FIRE! Rolfie breaks behind the defense and finishes neatly with the left foot from Lindpere. Korb and White lose track of the Fire attacker and Rolfe makes them pay. Man, Ben Olsen is not happy at all. 3-0 Fire.

HALFTIME: Fire playing well in the first half against the team with the worst record in MLS. Clearing second balls remains an issue and the defending looks too relaxed at times. Alex has played rather well transitioning to the attack and Larentowicz has been everywhere on the field. D.C. started pressuring higher up the field towards the end of the first half giving the home side a little bit of a rough time for a while, but key mistakes are occurring less frequently than before. This game is perfect for a 20 minute runout from Logan Pause to nail the result down.

For D.C., no one except Thorrington has stepped up. Nyassi is in over his head, Ruiz can't cut it anymore, and Silva and Kitchen have been invisible. The Fire fullbacks have had little to do all half because Korb and Nyassi on the left and Kemp and De Leon on the right have been ineffective in the attack. Nothing is working for Ben Olsen right now except that Thorrington is a competitor through and through.

46': Dejan Jakovic comes in for Ethan White. I don't think a defender for defender sub will save D.C., but sure, whatevs, Olsen. Now Duka is down stretching something. He looks to be in some pain and is walking off the field with athletic trainers.

47': Quincy Amarikwa coming on for Dilly Duka who heads straight to the locker room. Good sub as Amarikwa has the youthful energy to give the opposition -- oh holy fuck, Soumare almost gives the opposition a golden chance with a soft back pass to Tornaghi. That pass was almost as bad as my passes in my Monday night league.

49': Oh, great stuff between Magee and Amarikwa as the latter finds the former behind the defense. Magee passes on the shot and finds Amarikwa whose bad first touch kills the chance. If either took their chance first time, the Fire would have four goals.

51': Tetris always sounds fantastic. The sound mixer needs to mute the microphone that has the kids yelling in it.

52': Segares shuts down Nyassi. This has been a very good season for Sega so far.

53': Amarikwa almost wins the ball from Korb in the center circle. Soumare wins the ball and plays a vastly ambitious ball that goes right to Willis. Lindpere does well to hustle down the ball 3-0 up after 50+ minutes.

55': Amarikwa dashes through the midfield in the box where Woolard takes him down. Penalty given. Solid call. Woolard is having an atrocious game.

56': MAGEE! Goal FIRE! Willis dives to his left and Magee slots the shot to Willis' right. No chance for the goalkeeper there. 4-0 Fire. Ah... brings me back to the 2008 playoff game. Early Fire goal, a brace, a 3-0 lead, and a second half goal. That 4-0 Fire win in D.C. is one of my favorite all time Fire games.

58': Magee takes a free kick that zips past everyone in the box. No real danger there.

59': Ah fuck, and Silva pulls one back. Great curling shot to the upper corner where Tornaghi had no chance. What a shame too. Kitchen runs through the midfield uncontested to Luis Silva who runs at the defense uncontested and rips a 25-yard shot. Again, the supplier and the finisher were given too much space like so many conceded goals all season long. 4-1 Fire.

60': D.C. look a little more energized and are putting passes together and making off the ball runs much better.

61': Rolfe with a great diagonal ball to find Magee whose shot goes way over the bar. Saina Nyassi comes out for Kyle Porter.

62': Lindpere hustles down the left flank and sends a low cross through the box. Korb cleans up and De Leon's back pass goes out of bounds. De Leon has been awful. The ensuing corner ends with a tame header from Berry to Willis.

65': D.C. camped out in the Fire's defense third, but no dangerous chances are created. Fire containing D.C. well enough, but not assertive as they should be.

66': Amarikwa with another side scissor kick from an Anibaba cross but it's deflected out for a corner. Alex's shot on the resulting corner is blocked and his second effort goes over the bar.

67': First time Fire score 4+ since the last game of the season in 2010, which was really a bullshit game between two teams already eliminated from the playoffs. Offensively, Chicago have been awful for years.

68': Rolfe dribbles through three players on the right flank. Great skill.

69': Dan Kelly has been critiquing Soumare a few times this game, this time calling him "laissez faire" and "not showing urgency".

70': Segares in a lot of pain after Porter clips his shin or knee with excessive force. Yellow card to Porter. Segares limping, but should be fine. I would have given him a beer and packing tape to run it off.

72': I still love Tornaghi running in place to charge up his goal kicks.

74': Porter takes a long range shot at goal without a defender closing him down again. The shot is way off the mark.

75': James Riley coming on for Nick De Leon who was awful. So awful, Olsen puts on a defender for a winger down 4-1 late.

76': Amarikwa with a full bodied tackle to win the ball and send a through ball just too far for Lindpere whose toe poke shot is right at Willis.

77': Silver Fox Logan Pause comes on for Alex. Solid game for Alex. Logan does not takeover the armband. Very strange seeing Pause on the field without the armband.

79': This game has slowed the fuck down. I've yawned a couple times in the last few minutes.

80': Magee chips to Rolfe in the box but it's cleared away. Magee and Rolfe are playing very well together with Rolfe the beneficiary lately.

81': Rolfe takes a swing at the ball but kicks Thorrington instead. Rolfe gets a yellow.

82': Maicon Santos for Mike Magee who had a good game. Magee set the bar so high for himself in his first few games it's disappointing to see only "good".

84': Logan Pause. Smooth as a Saturday night blues crooner. He does so well to turn and distribute to switch the point of attack.

85': Korb comically caught offside when no one else was making a run.

87': Pause finds Anibaba on the right who then crosses the ball directly out of bounds. Pause yells at Anibaba for not playing simple and passing to feet. Yeah, three minutes left in normal time up 4-1 and he's still getting his crew in line. That's why he's our captain.

89': Klopas puts the jacket on over his crisp checkered shirt. I think his shirt is purple. If so, it's just like a shirt I have. What I'm trying to say is clearly I shop at the same place for shirts than Coach Klopas. (No, I assuredly don't)

90': Fire just holding on to the ball here. I really like Amarikwa coming off the bench as the third forward.

90+1': Berry gets a yellow card for bumping into the back of Ruiz who flops like the filthy fucking fish he is. Porter takes the free kick and it's, well, less than good.

90+2': Tornaghi playing the catenaccio game taking forever to take the free kick. Lindpere collects the free kick and dashes towards goal when Thorrington chops him down from behind because it's Johnny Thorrington. JT goes in the book.

FULL TIME: And the whistle blows. Fire win, Pause gets on one knee to thank Wells, D.C. players go to the away end to hopefully apologize for another gargle fest, and the Toyota Park crowd goes home happy.

Fire played well enough to win against a lifeless D.C. United team who looks to have given up and checked out for the season. The back line was never strongly tested throughout yet still managed to give up a goal to a team that scored only their second goal on the road all season. This has to stop as getting clean sheets seems to have become impossible for this Fire team. It will only get more difficult from here as the next round of games are against teams near or above the playoff threshold. Some teams actually know how to play effective defense and will stifle Rolfe and Magee and with the Fire's back line so porous, this will only result in bad things.