This match was a rollercoaster of emotions for Fire fans, with the ultimate destination being one that is all too familiar. After 13 minutes into the first half, Atlanta forward Georgios Giakoumakis would score the opener, but the Fire would gain control of the match for large stretches of play afterward. Eventually, Kacper Pryzbyłko would score an equalizer in the 90th minute after missing a breakaway the play directly before, but it would all be for naught as Atlanta would score again after a deflection off of the back of Maren Haile-Selassie.
*Players are listed in the order they lined up, followed by substitutes in the order they appeared
Chris Brady (7.5) – There really has not been an in-between for performances for Chris Brady this season. The young goalkeeper made an amazing close-range save in the 96th minute to keep the Fire’s hopes of a draw alive, but ultimately his efforts were not rewarded. Brady made two other quality saves beforehand and was positive the entire match.
Arnaud Souquet (6.5) – After some solid performances in the past few weeks, Souquet was just average in this game. Souquet didn’t really do much to stand out but also wasn’t poor enough to be knocked down any more points. Souquet could have come out of this game with an assist, but the team’s finishing was bad the entire match.
Carlos Terán (7) – After an injury scare last week, Terán was back to his usual self, and was one of the team’s best performers. The Colombian kept up well with an Atlanta attack that has been dropping goals on teams fairly easily this season and neutralized the threat of Georgios Giakoumakis after his early goal.
Rafael Czichos (6) – This was what could be Rafa’s worst game so far serving as the Fire’s captain. After failing to clean up an easily interceptable pass from Atlanta’s Brooks Lennon, the ball would land at the feet of Georgios Giakoumakis for the opening goal. Czichos settled down a bit afterward but still made a few notable errors here and there during the rest of the 90 minutes he played.
Jonathan Dean (6) – After Miguel Ángel Navarro’s poor performance last weekend, and Alonso Aceves still adjusting to life in MLS, Jonathan Dean would get the start at left-back. For Atlanta’s opener, Dean was slightly caught out by a beautiful long ball from Thiago Almada, but again the ball was perfect to a p so its hard to put that entirely against Dean when it was a certain DP’s fault for not continuing his press on the Argentine in the first place. Besides that, Dean was a bit shaky in possession, but his work rate partially made up for it.
Fabian Herbers (5.5) – Herbers loves getting booked doesn’t he? Besides a pretty pointless yellow, Fabian Herbers was not effective enough as the Fire’s lone midfielder in Ezra’s attempt at a 4-1-4-1, and was turning over the ball and getting overran by Atlanta’s midfield pretty frequently until his substitution in the 62nd minute for the return of Federico Navarro.
Xherdan Shaqiri (5) – The Fire put an emphasis on pressing Atlanta deep into their half by using their two number 10’s and striker, and Xherdan Shaqiri certainly did NOT work nearly hard enough, which caused the press to breakdown completely at various points. Shaqiri just does not look like he can physically keep up with what Ezra needs him to do as the centerpiece of this team, and that is extremely worrisome. It also isn’t a shock either. Simply not good enough for being one of the highest-paid players in the league. Shaqiri would be substituted in the 61st minute for Gastón Giménez.
Brian Gutiérrez (7.5) – Guti started the match a bit slow, but definitely grew into play well into the match, providing creativity and vision for his teammates as the Fire chiseled at Atlanta for an equalizer, continuing to prove that he should be the Fire’s starting attacking midfielder. Brian Gutiérrez had a wonderful assist in the 90th minute to bust Kacper out of a fire-fan Twitter rampage after the Pole missed a one-on-one with Clément Diop, and could have had more assists if his other forwards stopped shooting field goals. It must have been the Benz that threw them off.
Maren Haile-Selassie (6.5) – To speak on it immediately, the own goal was honestly kind of funny. Maren isn’t even looking as the ball hits his back and goes into the Fire’s net. Besides that, the Swiss winger was so-so. His runs were tremendous, constantly getting into good goalscoring positions. His dead ball service was quality too, which is a positive seeing as his countryman can barely keep the ball in play. Haile-Selassie’s biggest issue was finishing, with several quality goalscoring opportunities going off target. Guti fed Maren an over-the-top through ball in the 26th minute, but it would end up on the roof of the net as Atlanta’s goalkeeper rushed to close the distance. Haile-Selassie also had a free-kick opportunity saved in the 93rd minute. In another world, Maren comes out of Atlanta with a brace and three points. Not this world though.
Kei Kamara (5.5) – Kamara had a pretty poor game overall, missing a few opportunities other strikers in MLS would feast upon. Kamara was overall too slow to really threaten Atlanta’s backline. Typically as well, Kamara is one of the Fire’s most consistent duel engagers and winners, but here he only won two of his four total engaged duels. It just seemed like there was not enough gas in the tank here, with Kamara being substituted in the 72nd minute for Georgios Koutsias.
Chris Mueller (6) – Mueller was kept under guard by Atlanta, and as of recently Mueller has not been posing enough of a threat in front of the net. This game was a part of that trend, as the winger would post 0.24 expected goals and assists but come out of the game with neither contribution. Also worrying to some fans is Mueller’s lack of link-up play with Jonathan Dean, as the left-back made plenty of overlapping or supporting runs but generally did not receive the ball. In the end, Mueller made way for Alonso Aceves in the 81st minute.
Federico Navarro (7) – Coming on in the 62nd minute for Fabian Herbers for his second appearance of the season following an injury sustained in the Fire’s season opener, Navarro showed his old self in the minutes he was able to play in as a sub. Navarro helped break up any rhythm Atlanta was finding alongside pivot partner Gastón Giménez, showing that he is ready to be a major player for the Fire again.
Gastón Giménez (7.5) – Subbing on in the 61st minute for Xherdan Shaqiri despite injury concerns against Philadelphia, the Paraguayan was key to gaining complete midfield control over Atlanta after he was subbed on. Giménez has not been the Fire’s most popular player with fans in the years he has spent here so far, but recently his performances are changing a lot of minds.
Georgios Koutsias (6) – Appearing in the 72nd minute as a substitute for Kei Kamara, Koutsias continues to show a solid work ethic but still does not make the most of his chances. Given his age, this can be looked past easily, but it would be nice to see the forward score his first goal for the club already. Koutsias ran at the Atlanta backline well as the Fire’s only striker, but as Kacper Pryzbylko would be subbed on too he would be forced out of position where he would lose his influence.
Alonso Aceves (6) – Swapping with Chris Mueller in the 81st minute, Aceves never really got engaged in the action too much, but still played enough to warrant a rating as the game played almost ten minutes of extra time. Aceves slotted into the left-back spot as Arnaud Souquet would be substituted as well, with Jonathan Dean moving over to right-back.
Kacper Pryzbyłko (6.5) – Substituting Arnaud Souquet in the 81st minute, Kacper would play as a target man for the remainder of the match. After being gifted a breakaway from Atlanta, Pryzbylko would fire the ball directly at Clément Diop. Atlanta could not retain the ball however, and Brian Gutiérrez would be able to feed a pass to Kacper for the Fire’s equalizer.
Ezra Hendrickson (5.5) – There is a large array of positives and negatives to draw from this match. Ezra’s 4-1-4-1 looked like it could work once full squad fitness returns, but as the double pivot of Gastón and Fede returned and played very well, would that really be the right tactical move? Speaking of lineups, why is Fabian Herbers starting as the team’s lone holding midfielder? Why did Kei Kamara remain on the field so long despite having a poor game? We have the attacking options to substitute him out whether it be like-for-like or not. Mentally speaking, the team is in the same place as usual. Giving up points because of individual flaws and mistakes that are easily avoidable. Is there any accountability in the locker room? This is a trend that is continuing despite Ezra’s promise that dropping points will not become a theme for this squad. I will say that in this match Ezra’s subs were the best they have been all season, but it seems like when the team starts chasing results at the end of games, the formation and tactics for the front line just melt into a puddle. Up and down for Ezra once again.