The Fire defeated NASL side Miami FC 5-2 on Sunday 2-19-17. The Fire put in a sparkling team performance connecting passes and possessing the ball. There is clear evidence of this in the lead up to a really impressive team goal scored by David Accam assisted by Nemanja Nickolic. The team put together 9 passes before putting the ball in the back of the net. The ball was moved from the Fire backline to the Miami goal seamlessly. Four other players scored in the match, John Goossens blasted home a Penalty kick, Arturo Alvarez struck from distance, Luis Solignac pounced on a Miami defensive miscue to put the Fire ahead in the third minute. David Arshakyan slotted home the rebound from a Juninho shot, initially blocked by the Miami goalkeeper.
So has Veljko Paunovic finally found the right chemistry and mix of players to make the Fire a winning team again? In looking at the Fire’s last two matches you are starting to see the combined soccer genius of Nelson Rodriguez and Paunovic. It seems they have solved last season’s lack of goals by bringing in Nickolic who can be the spark that Accam and de Leeuw needed to be a powerful attack. It looks like the players are buying into Paunovic’s coaching tactics and style of play he wants. We have two more matches to be treated to these new exciting attacking pairings before opening day. We can also anticipate how the new midfield pairing of Juninho and DaxMccarty will work. The defensive trio of Brandon Vincent, Johann Kapplehof, and Joao Meira are also beginning to show signs that they can be a rock solid back line, the Fire have only given up two goals from the run of play.
The Fire next face FC Cincinnati on Wednesday February 22. This match could afford coach Paunovic the opportunity to look at different lineups, formations and build team chemistry. It is thought in the final match against MLS team Toronto FC we will see the starting lineup that will feature in the opening match of the MLS season against arch rivals the Columbus Crew march 4th.