After their devastating 3-2 loss against Real Salt Lake, the Fire can dig deep and try to find answers or they can let their season wither away.
After Saturday, one of those routes looks more likely.
The Fire led 2-0 after first-half scores from Mike Magee and Juan Luis Anangono and appeared headed for their first victory. But after three second-half scores by Real Salt Lake — including Joao Plata’s 93rd-minute winner — the Fire were left with their second loss, an eight-game winless streak to begin the season and even more questions about the makeup of the players.
It’s clear that coach Frank Yallop has some questions.
“At some point, you have to figure it out on the field,” Yallop said. “We were very passive in the second half. I can’t do much from where I’m at. But the only thing I can do is make changes in certain things, the lineups, and get other players in.
“Once you’re playing, you’ve got to stand up and be counted. Some of our guys ducked out of it, which is disappointing for me because I don’t think we have this season, other than the last 20 minutes of this game.”
Before those 20 minutes, the Fire (0-2-6) were holding on. Magee and Anangono scored their second goals of the season, and the Fire were holding off undefeated Real Salt Lake (4-0-5)despite being dominated in possession.
Even after Plata’s first goal in the 72nd minute, the Fire had a chance to escape with a win. But that vanished when Alvaro Saborio beat goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the 90th minute. A consolation point was taken away when Plata got free to Johnson’s left and scored.
During the Fire’s disappointing start, which included a streak of six consecutive draws to equal a league record, Yallop insisted that the spirit of the team hadn’t been broken and that the Fire had been the better team in many of those games. Yallop, however, conceded that Real Salt Lake were better Saturday.
“It’s definitely a test for us,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to look at ourselves. There’s nobody else to blame.”