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Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Fire stagnant, shut out by Wizards

By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire's season of few peaks and mostly valleys took a steep dip once again as the Kansas City Wizards dominated in possession and topped Chicago, 2-0, on Tuesday in front of 12,230 at Toyota Park.

Kansas City captain Davy Arnaud and forward Teal Bunbury provided the offense for the Wizards (10-12-6), who kept their faint postseason hopes alive. For the Fire (8-12-8), their performance was the polar opposite of their 2-0 victory over the Columbus Crew on Friday.

"We just didn't have the right attitude coming from the win against Columbus," Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said. "That should have motivated us to come into this game stronger. We just didn't come into this game with the right attitude."

Fire V. Wizards
Chicago's Patrick Nyarko fights for controls of the ball as he is grabbed by Kansas City's Stephane Auvray.
Arnaud's goal came during first-half stoppage time as Bunbury had the setup pass. Arnaud found the inside of the far right post, driving the ball past Fire goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra for a 1-0 lead.

In the 80th minute, Kansas City took a two-goal lead when Bunbury shot the ball almost straight at Dykstra. The hard strike went underneath Dykstra's left glove at the near right post.

The Fire offense was in shambles, especially during the first half. Chicago did not have a single shot on goal during the first 45 minutes.

"There wasn't really any fluidity throughout that part, and they broke free and scored their goal," Fire forward Brian McBride said of the first half. "It wasn't the performance we wanted."

The Fire's best scoring opportunity came shortly after the Wizards' second goal. After the kickoff, Freddie Ljungberg provided a cross from the right side and tried to find Brian McBride. But the ball deflected into Wizards goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen's gloves.

The post saved the Fire defense on a couple of occasions. In the 8th minute, Craig Rocastle had a deep shot that hit the right side of the frame near the corner and bounced away for a Fire goal kick. Then in the 58th minute, Bunbury took a deep strike and the ball deflected off Fire defensive midfielder Logan Pause and hit the left post. Dykstra was able to recover to take control of the ball.

Rookie midfielder Corben Bone made his first MLS start and fourth appearance of the season. But De los Cobos brought in Patrick Nyarko in the 38th minute to replace Bone.

"Corben showed very little in the time that he was on the field," De los Cobos said. "I understand that he's a young player. But when this opportunity is presented to the players, they need to understand that they need to have the right attitude to take advantage. And I just didn't see that attitude in Corben. I wish he could have played a full 90 minutes. But I just saw a very passive Corben Bone."

Among the Fire's rookie class, the first-round selection of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft has received the fewest opportunities to prove himself on the pitch.

"Take it for what it's worth," Bone said of the early substitution. "Got to keep my head up, keep doing what I've been doing and keep moving forward. It's the past now, so I can't really do anything about it."

Bone said he feels confident in the effort he has been putting in to prepare himself for matches.

"I think I've been working hard, and I think I've been training well," Bone said. "This was my first MLS start. I haven't played a game since SuperLiga, three or four months ago. So it's difficult. But I've just got to keep training well and hopefully the next time I get a start, hopefully I'll get more minutes."

Analysis: The Fire offense looked stagnant as Chicago took mediocre runs and did not look cohesive whatsoever on the pitch. Especially early on, the Fire did not create any type of constructive build-up in the offensive third, and they found themselves away from that portion of the field in many instances.

Kansas City, on the flip side, had some good room to work the ball and made regular crosses from both sides of the pitch.

De los Cobos' decision to take out Bone in the 38th minute probably would have been a proper move if this game had any significant meaning to it. But it didn't. The Fire are out of the playoff picture, and Bone has not even logged 90 minutes this year in MLS play.

The puzzling thing is, if the Fire are looking toward the future and trying new personnel, wouldn't you allow the youngster to work through a poor stretch like that? Why not, at minimum, have him finish out the first half? Saving the substitution might have been helpful, too, with center defensive back C.J. Brown hobbling throughout the final 20 minutes.

Bone was not the only Fire player who had a poor first half. You have to question De los Cobos' personnel decisions, because if he is looking to the future of this team, he has not given the Fire's top draft pick much of a chance to grind things out.