Fire's offense continues to sputter in 1-0 loss
In the last five games the only players to score against the Chicago Fire are Robbie Keane and Thierry Henry.
It's a great stat, but after Wednesday's 1-0 loss at New York on Henry's 71st-minute goal, it just serves to remind Fire fans they have nobody of the same caliber as Henry or Keane.
"Disappointing for us, anytime you lose," Fire coach Frank Klopas said. "Obviously a great player scored a great goal and made the difference."
Left unsaid is that the Fire doesn't have a "great player" like Henry. Or Keane.
The Fire's only Designated Player is Federico Puppo, the little-used Uruguayan whose DP status came as a surprise to the club because of a technicality.
Not only didn't he make a difference Wednesday, he didn't even make the trip to New York.
Meanwhile, the Fire has scored just twice in its last five games. That's 2 goals in five games without playmaker Sebastian Grazzini, who is on a leave of absence to deal with family issues in Argentina.
The possibility that he won't return grows more likely with every match he misses.
Alex started in Grazzini's place at attacking midfielder and left Wednesday's matinee — played in 106-degree heat — at halftime after the Fire spent most of the first 45 minutes playing defense. Not a good sign.
The rumor mill suggests the Fire (9-7-4, 31 points) will add Dutch forward Sherjill MacDonald after he clears up visa issues.
Based on his resume, it would be an underwhelming acquisition, especially as the Fire's MLS rivals get results from true DPs, not the accidental kind.
With fewer than 10 days left in the summer-transfer window, time is running out for the Fire to do something special, something to energize the fan base and jump-start the attack.
The good news is the Fire still has a playoff-caliber lineup.
Sean Johnson is playing well in goal, the back line is talented and has good depth, the midfield is adequate (especially if Marco Pappa stays), and Dominic Oduro up front scares teams with his speed, if not his touch.
The bad news is that, barring any additions, it doesn't look like a championship roster, especially without Grazzini.
Time is running out for the Fire to make the kind of bold acquisition(s) that can help put up points in the standings and bodies in the Toyota Park seats.
The Fire missed the playoffs in 2010 and 2011. It hasn't had a real DP — excluding Puppo — since Freddie Ljungberg and Nery Castillo left after the 2010 season.
Now management has to ask itself if just making the playoffs is good enough.
There's never a guarantee a DP will work out, of course. Castillo is a great example of that.
But if the Fire is serious about winning, it has to try.
A friendly for the Fire:
The Fire hosts English Premier League side Aston Villa at Toyota Park at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Aston Villa also will hold a training session at 6 p.m. Friday at Toyota Park that is open to the public.
Tickets to the training session are $20 and can be purchased by calling 888-MLS-FIRE or at chicago-fire.com. Tickets to Saturday's match also are available.
Congratulations to Fire assistant equipment manager Allan Araujo on his wedding last weekend to former Burlington Central High School girls basketball coach Jenna Real.
•Follow Orrin on Twitter @orrinsoccer.
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