Breakdown: Fire vs. Toronto FC

The Fire stumbles its way to another draw

The Fire stumbles its way to another draw (ap.com)

T.J. Zaremba dissects another “Meh” performance by the Men In Red.

Chicago Fire’s return to MLS action against Toronto FC was forgettable to say the least.

It looked like a battle of two teams playing early in the season, instead of a mid-season contest wherein one team had played Open Cup games the past two weeks.

The weather was unseasonably cold and there was a constant light rain that made conditions crappy for the fans. It also appeared to play havoc on the players’ footing.

Because the Fire were up a man for the last hour of the match, the overall passing numbers were exactly what you would expect them to be.

Fire-Tor Passing Numbers

Some of the best numbers on the season for the Fire (mlssoccer.com)

As was the possession. The first 30 minutes were pretty equal, with the Fire owning possession after the red card was issued to Toronto’s Luke Moore.

60 minutes up a man means lots of possession time

60 minutes up a man means lots of possession time (mlssoccer.com)

However, the Fire’s finishing was lacking.

192 square feet.  Need to use more than the middle.

192 square feet. Need to use more than the middle. (squawka.com)

The Fire’s problems began with their lineup. By starting Ritter and Big Red together, the Fire were using two defensive midfielders. Therefore, the attack would have to come from the wings.

A huge hole in the middle of the Fire attack (mlssoccer.com)

A huge hole in the middle of the Fire attack (mlssoccer.com)

Chicago pushed their attack through the right side during the first half.

Fire attack stays away from the watchful eye of OTF editor Scott Fenwick (squwaka.com)

(squwaka.com)

This meant Harry Shipp spent a lot of time in the attacking midfielder spot instead of on the left

Left-center midfield role again for Shipp (squawka.com)

Left-center midfield role again for Shipp (squawka.com)

When the above occurs, it often leaves left back Greg Cochrane on an island. This is what Jermain Defoe exposed on his run and cross that led to Toronto’s goal.

After a failed first half, Frank Yallop inserted Alex. This allowed the Fire to play more centrally and left in the second half.

Attack the other way, Fire attack remains allergic to Scooter (squawka.com)

(squawka.com)

The fact that it only took Alex 45 minutes to be Squawka’s Man of the Match demonstrates the Fire’s complete ineptitude during the first half.

Alex made good use of his time (squawka.com)

Alex made good use of his time (squawka.com)

Speaking of ineptitude, here are the two shots (and hopefully last two) that Fire DP Juan Luis Anangonó took during his 20 minutes on the pitch.

The last two shots for Anangono (squawka.com)

Adios, JLA. (squawka.com)

The graphic above is a microcosm of Anangonó’s time in Chicago.

Considering the Fire are the “Kings of the Draw,” why would Wednesday night’s result have been any different?

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Follow OTF Soccer on Twitter @OTFSoccer

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T.J. Zaremba was BarnBurner #110 and 1998 second-half season ticket holder in Section 8 of pre-mothership Soldier Field. After over a decade on walkabout, with a handful of guest appearances, he returned in 2011 and has been a regular (when his commitment to Uncle Sam allows it) at Toyota Park with his wife and the Hamster. Follow T.J. @TJZaremba

*infographics courtesy of mlssoccer.com and squwaka.com

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