By Anna Ferkingstad
With a crowd of over 4,000 roaring fans crammed into Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, WA, the Chicago Fire struggled to contain the Seattle Sounders offense in Wednesday’s US Open Cup semifinal. The Fire were denied an opportunity to earn their fifth Open Cup title after falling 6-0 to the Sounders with their leading scorer, Mike Magee was out on a red card suspension.
Sean Johnson (6.5): The struggling Chicago defense made for a tough 90 minutes for Johnson. Several agile saves in the first half left the Fire thankful they were only down 3-0 after 45 minutes. Although the majority of the Sounders goals were out of his reach, Johnson had a notable series of saves off of a header from Seattle’s Andy Rose in the 12th minute and then in the 64th minute with a header and rebound from Kenny Cooper.
Lovell Palmer (4): Looking forward, Palmer needs to improve his man marking and learn to minimize sloppy and reckless tackles. In the 6th minute, he lost Chad Barrett on a backside run to allow the Sounder’s a 1-0 lead. Additionally, he left Cooper wide open in the 83rd minute who put Seattle at 5-0 with a header off of a cross from DeAndre Yedlin.
Jeff Larentowicz (4.5): Despite the scoreline, the MLS veteran Larentowicz was the most reliable of Chicago’s defenders. Larentowicz had several decisive clearances but ultimately the gaps in the defensive line were unforgivable. His weak tackle on Obafemi Martins in the 79th minute allowed Seattle to go up 4-0.
Bakary Sourmare (4): Throughout the game, Seattle’s Cooper and Barrett were able to capitalize on the holes between Sourmare and Larentowicz. Sourmare began the game with several strong tackles but then fell to sloppy passing and slow transitions as the first half continued. In the 84th minute, he was beat on the dribble by Seattle’s Martins, who then assisted Cooper’s second goal.
Gonzalo Segares (4): Similar to Palmer, Segares needs to be more aware of his marks on corners and free kicks in Chicago’s defensive third. In the second half, Segares struggled to contain the speed of Yedlin and the energy of Rose. A sloppy foul against Seattle’s Lamar Neagle in the 82nd minute gave him the third of four Chicago yellow cards.
Grant Ward (6): During the first 45 minutes, Ward was vigilant in containing Neagle’s attacking runs on the left side. However, his inability to follow Seattle’s Marco Pappa down the wing in the 58th minute allowed Pappa to get off a cross that gave Rose the Sounders’ third goal of the game.
Razvan Cocis (6.5): A recent transfer to the club, the 31-year-old offered a commanding presence in the center of the field. He blocked a slicing shot from Barrett in front of the goal in the 72nd minute but ultimately was slow on the transition for the Fire.
Matt Watson (6.5): For the duration of the game, Watson offered the Fire creative forward progression and strength in the air. In the 60th minute, a through ball to Amerikwa down the right flank gave the striker a great attacking opportunity. However, he was one of many Chicago defenders that neglected to mark Rose on the corner that gave the Sounders their second goal in the 34th minute.
Alex (6.5): For the majority of the game, Alex played with composure and demonstrated good vision. He aided in earning the Fire their rather high possession percentage, with Chicago at 57% and the Sounders 43%. Throughout the second half, though, Alex was caught ball watching many times by Yedlin’s attacking runs.
Harry Shipp (5.5): In the beginning of the game, Shipp aided greatly in the Fire’s transitions forward. As the game continued, however, sloppy play allowed the Sounders to pick off several combinations. In the 82nd minute, Shipp trailed back to mark Yedlin on a free kick, who eventually beat him down the line and assisted the Sounders fifth goal.
Quincy Amarikwa (7): Amarikwa was Chicago’s firecracker. With only four regular season wins for the Fire and their star striker, Mike Magee out on a red card, the Fire needed energy up front and Amarikwa offered it. The announcer, Ross Fletcher even referred to him as “human dynamo.” Although the struggling Chicago defense meant the attacking opportunities were few and far between, Amarikwa’s constant runs kept Seattle’s Jalil Anibaba on his toes. Looking at the remainder of the MLS season, Amarikwa (along with the rest of the Chicago offense) need to improve on their combination in their attacking third.
Matthew Fondy (6): Yet to score in the MLS, Fondy entered the game in the 62nd minute for Ward to a scoreline of 3-0 out of Chicago’s favor. He brought new legs and energy to the game with several refreshing combinations with the center midfield and outside defense.
Chris Ritter (5): In all honesty, Ritter did nothing extraordinarily good but nothing terribly bad. Subbed in for Watson in the 74th minute, he lacked the decisiveness in the air of his counterpart but unlike the majority of his teammates, seemed to follow his marks on defense.
Logan Pause (5): Similarly unremarkable like Ritter.
Frank Wallop (6): With Chicago’s leading scorer Mike Magee out on a red card against the Atlanta Silverbacks, Frank Yallop would have been better off playing a 4-5-1. Adding the extra body in the midfield would have helped to contain Seattle’s scorching offense. However, Yallop was strategic in bringing fresh legs into the center midfield with substitutes Logan Pause and Chris Ritter in the 74th minute. The 6-0 scoreline makes it clear though that Wallop has a lot of work to do with his defensive line looking at their next MLS game against the Montreal Impact.
Jair Marrufo (7):Marrufo did well to contain the Chicago tempers of the second half but had no controversial calls. Five* yellow cards were issued in the game: four* to the Fire and one to the Sounders. (*corrected)