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Fire's scoring woes continue in loss

The Fire's Harry Shipp controls the ball during Saturday's game. | Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

For all the attacking options the Fire acquired this winter, their leading scorer through eight games is central defender Jeff Larentowicz.

That’s not a good sign, and it’s starting to consistently cost the Fire points. It did again in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake.

“It just basically means that probably we are lacking that person that is prolific,” midfielder Shaun Maloney said. If you look at each of the teams, or other teams in the league there’s generally one person that’s five, six, seven goals. I think one of us in the forward area is really going to have to step up.”

Playing without the suspended David Accam, the Fire (3-5-0, nine points) were looking for somebody to help them generate goals. Only Maloney drawing a penalty that Larentowicz converted in the 88th minute (for his second of the year) helped the Fire avoid a shutout and end their scoreless drought at 248 minutes.

But beyond that the Fire’s attack wasn’t dangerous enough, keeping them at seven goals this season.

“This is a game of goals,” coach Frank Yallop said. “We scored one penalty kick.”

Neither of the starting strikers – Guly do Prado and Quincy Amarikwa – impacted the game the way the Fire probably would have wanted. Designated Player Kennedy Igboananike replaced do Prado in the 58th and added to the attack, making an argument with his play that maybe he should start.

Igboananike, who was the first of the three DPs signed last offseason, would want that chance. Though he needed time to settle after his transfer from Swedish club AIK, Igboananike thinks he’s “absolutely” ready to start after not being in the first 11 since March 29.

“For me, I tell the coach I’m ready to play now. I think now I’m settled down now, ready to come into the game. I’m ready to play, but the coach is the boss,” Igboananike said. “He’s the one that makes the selection, so I can’t force myself for anything, so I just have to wait for my chance.”

The Fire have also been waiting for Mike Magee to return, though he isn’t expected back until June from a hip surgery that ended his season last year. Regardless of whether the scoring comes from Magee, Igboananike or anybody else, the Fire know it has to start coming soon.

“Our general play was what we talked about, but just that final cutting edge is just not quite there, and that confidence right now. We’ll keep going,” Yallop said. “I felt that the chances we created were quite difficult to get to that point but we didn’t finish them off, and that’s the disappointing part that sort of sits with us.”