With Frank Klopas electing to keep the Fire lined up in a 3-4-2-1 despite its flaws as of late, surprise, surprise, they lost again! After being vastly outplayed in the first half, Cucho Hernández scored in the 59th minute to put Columbus up 1-0. There was a glimmer of hope when Xherdan Shaqiri, the league’s highest-paid player, scored his first goal of the season in the 88th minute to equalize, but Lucas Zelarayán took the ball off of Fabian Herbers and scored from half-field in the 93rd minute to call game. Here is a short recap of the Fire’s individual performers.
*Players are listed in the order they lined up, followed by substitutes in the order they appeared
Spencer Richey (5) – It is unfortunate that Richey really didn’t do anything wrong before the end of 90 minutes, but being that far off your line for no reason cost the Fire a point. Of course, Columbus’ second goal came from a variety of factors, but Richey’s mistake was easily avoidable.
Miguel Ángel Navarro (7.5) – Besides adding to his portfolio of field goals, Navarro did assist the Fire’s lone goal and didn’t make any notable defensive errors. Looking back on last year and even earlier this season, it’s strange not to be just pointing a finger and Miggy for his performances, but he genuinely has not been too bad recently, which is nice considering how the Chicago Fire are crumbling in every other aspect.
Rafael Czichos (6.5) – Moving to the outside of the Fire’s back-three, Czichos looked slightly more comfortable than when he has played as the single pivot in the back. Rafa had four tackles and engaged in ten total duels, which is pretty good despite the result. An area the Fire lack in, though, is leadership, and unfortunately, as what Rafa is doing as the club’s captain is great, it is not enough.
Mauricio Pineda (6.5) – Neither goal fell on any issues stemming from the center backs, with Pineda also having an alright performance despite conceding twice. Besides a hiccup when going to clear the ball, which resulted in Cucho getting a breakaway that he missed, Mauri was mediocre on the night. The center-back posted an 89.8% passing accuracy and engaged in six duels.
Arnaud Souquet (6) – After a poor showing against the Houston Dynamo, Souquet started the game a bit shaky but played just well enough to work around having his rating dropped any more. Souquet had the second lowest passing accuracy amongst Fire players with 67.6%, only being beaten out by world-renowned playmaker Kacper Przybyłko’s flat 40%. Souquet was substituted by Jonathan Dean in the 78th minute.
Maren Haile-Selassie (6.5) – Even though his performances as the Fire’s right wingback have been pretty “meh” so far this season, Haile-Selassie started this match by being extremely involved in the attack by bombing down the right channel quite often. As all Fire games of recent have turned out, though, Maren found himself with less and less of the ball and was forced to play on the counter as the Fire turned over possession of the ball to Columbus. The Swiss winger did do more defending than normal but rarely looked dangerous in the second half, resulting in being substituted out for Jairo Torres in the 78th minute.
Federico Navarro (5.5) – Besides his league-required one foul outside the box per game and getting nailed by a long shot from Cucho that deflected in, Navarro has just been a shell of his former self. Well-known as one of the Fire’s best players, Fede just has not had any presence on the field besides knocking a few opposition players over and does not connect well with the attack if there isn’t an attacking midfielder in front of him.
Gastón Giménez (5.5) – Facing the same disconnection issue as his midfielder partner, Gastón did little to stop the Fire from being overrun by Columbus at different points of the match. Credit to the Paraguayan for stepping forward more than Fede to try and link some attacking play, but it seems like this pivot collectively have either not been effectively coached to play in this formation, or they don’t know what they’re doing. Giménez was substituted out for Fabian Herbers in the 80th minute.
Xherdan Shaqiri (7) – FINALLY! FINALLY, HE SCORED! Big Shaq opened his goalscoring account for the first time this season after getting on the end of a Miguel Navarro cross in the 88th minute to equalize. Besides that, Shaqiri had a solid game, trying to create opportunities for himself and his teammates for the full 90 minutes, which was unheard of earlier this campaign.
Brian Gutiérrez (6) – With whatever attacking play the Fire could generate falling almost exclusively on the right-side, Gutiérrez rarely found himself included in any play Chicago developed. It was a quiet night from the homegrown with that said, Guti’s play came down to a few outside runs and drawing a few fouls. Gutiérrez was substituted for Georgios Koutsias in the 63rd minute.
Kei Kamara (6.5) – Despite a few flashes of attacking individual brilliance and a high work rate to help the team defend, Kamara had a quiet night as a general lack of attacking support saw fairly few opportunities arise for Chicago, specifically in the second half. Needing some kind of change, Kei was subbed at the 63rd minute for Przybyłko.
Georgios Koutsias (6) – Coming on for Gutiérrez in the 63rd minute, Koutsias could have earned a participation trophy for his efforts. The Fire’s attack was dead, and he tried his best to get something going. Given he continues to play out-wide instead of at the number nine spot, I guess that is good enough.
Kacper Przybyłko (4.5) – Replacing Kamara in the 63rd minute, I think if Kacper Przybyłko was to one versus one a turtle in soccer, the turtle could probably win. The Polish forward was genuinely dysfunctional as a substitute, only completing 40% of his ten passes. His moment of the match came when he nailed the underside of the bar from close range, but it could never have mattered anyway, as the striker was offsides as well.
Jairo Torres (6) – Torres appeared as a substitute for Haile-Selassie in the 78th minute and just barely scraped enough time to get a rating. Jairo wasn’t able to really do anything meaningful in his time as a sub, but at least he looked energized and somewhat determined, which is apparently invaluable when comparing JT to some of the players who started this game.
Jonathan Dean (6) – Dean replaced Souquet in the 78th minute; he made his first appearance since clocking 90 minutes in a dreadful game against Nashville. Similar to Jairo, though, there wasn’t much action for the defender to get into, with most of his time spent defending or watching the attack from afar as he filled in as the team’s right center-back
Fabian Herbers (5) – Herbers was substituted on for Gastón Giménez in the 80th minute and didn’t make much of an impact. His only notable action was losing the ball that Lucas Zelarayán blasted into the net to kill the game.
Frank Klopas (5.5) – Despite sticking with a back-three formation that has been consistently mediocre, Klopas switched the spots of Pineda and Czichos, with the latter now occupying the left-outside center back spot rather than Pineda. It is a change that did look much better. However, one of the biggest issues with the Fire’s 3-4-2-1 (or 3-4-3) is the disconnect between midfielders and attackers. Largely at times, the Fire will be transitioning on the outside flanks, but there won’t be much support for the wingbacks. Even when attacking down the middle, Kei Kamara often finds himself without adequate help from his teammates, which pins most of the Fire’s attacks down to being one-on-one. A 3-4-1-2 could suit Chicago better; however, that could force Klopas into starting either Przybyłko or Koutsias over Shaqiri or Gutiérrez, and I think any Fire fan prefers Shaq and Guti to start over other options. Outside of these tactical notes, discipline is still a bit of an issue for this team, but to be fair, Columbus were getting cards left and right too. Oh, also, we can’t pass the ball! Not sure what we’re doing in training, but it doesn’t seem to be worthwhile considering we haven’t won a game since May 24th. Another day, more dropped points.