Would you look at that, Ezra Hendrickson’s Fire dropped points from a leading position once again! After a shaky start to the match, Kei Kamara would score a thunderous header from an Arnaud Souquet cross in the 34th minute to go up 1-0. The Fire never would assert dominance over the Red Bulls, and would ultimately concede in the 89th minute to Cory Burke off of a corner delivered by John Tolkin.
*Players are listed in the order they lined up, followed by substitutes in the order they appeared
Chris Brady (6.5) – Brady had a pretty good game up until the 89th minute, making three saves and keeping the Fire in the match early on, but as the goal originates from the homegrown missing the punch to clear the ball out of the air from the corner which NYRB would score off of, his rating does have to get docked down a bit.
Miguel Ángel Navarro (6.5) – Navarro had a good match defensively against NYRB, which likely served as a slight sigh of relief for Fire fans as the Venezuelan has proved to be error-prone when under heavy pressure in the past. Navarro engaged in 14 total duels, winning 66.7% of them. Offensively Navarro found good space on the left side of the field but either never found the ball at his feet or provided good enough service.
Rafael Czichos (7) – Despite being subject to plenty of antics from the New York Red Bull players, Czichos himself had a good match defensively. Like Navarro, the German had 14 duels total but won a slightly higher 75% of them. The Fire’s captain did only have a 64.9% accurate pass completion rate, but the team as a whole could barely hold the ball in the second half and was vastly out-possessed by the Red Bulls, thus limiting most of Czicho’s on-ball action to long balls and clearances.
Carlos Terán (5.5) – Directly after signing a new long-term contract extension, Terán would be limited to only 33 minutes because of injury concerns. Before his substitution however, Terán’s passing was extremely errant and almost gifted NYRB a goal within the first twenty minutes after he was pressed by the opposition forwards, resulting in a deflected pass that would grant NYRB a one-on-one with Chris Brady, ending in a wonderful save to keep the score at zeros.
Arnaud Souquet (7) – In the past few weeks we have seen a clear improvement in performances from Arnaud Souquet, which is great considering his slow adaptation to Major League Soccer. Souquet would whip a ball in from out wide to find the head of Kei Kamara for the match’s opening goal, but as the Fire would fail to get control over the match, Souquet would be forced to help park the bus. All-around it was a decent performance from the Frenchman.
Gatsón Giménez (7) – One of the Fire’s best players on the night, Giménez has recently amped up his creativity despite playing within a pivot with heavy defensive responsibilities. Giménez helped the Fire transition well in the first half and often would pick up the ball, shift the defenders with his dribbling, and lay it back off to his attackers into fields of space. Giménez also finished fourth for passing completion across players on both teams who played a full ninety minutes, with a rate of 72.1%. That number is relatively high for Fire players given the fact that they were out-possessed in 11 of the 19 five-minute intervals.
Federico Navarro (7) – Finally consistently getting back into the starting eleven after recovering from his injury, Navarro did well in his 62-minute stint, breaking up NYRB’s play frequently in the first half and getting the Fire back into possession. Navarro would eventually be substituted for Fabian Herbers. Following Fede’s substitution, the Fire would only dominate possession in one five-minute interval out of the remaining six, with the team’s final possession number falling to 47.70% despite comfortably controlling possession before that. Not sure that is a coincidence.
Maren Haile-Selassie (6.5) – It was an overall poor performance from the Fire’s wingers and attacking midfielder, but Haile-Selassie proved to be the most involved in the match. Originally linking up well with Arnaud Souquet to get the right-back into space to serve the cross for the Fire’s goal, afterward the winger struggled to formulate any more major end-product on offense. Haile-Selassie would be substituted for Jonathan Dean in the 73rd minute.
Chris Mueller (5.5) – It has been a struggle to find form as recently for Chris Mueller, as the winger has just not looked himself when on the ball. Typically lethal, Mueller looks to be overthinking almost every time he finally starts running at defenders. In terms of finishing, Mueller is a ghost of his former self, consistently being unable to get the ball on target. Notably, after a wonderful through-ball to get Mueller into space for a one-on-one to goal, the winger took a loose touch with his outside foot, squandering the opportunity to get the Fire up by more than one goal. Overall too slow and too sluggish to make an impression on this team at the moment.
Brian Gutiérrez (6.5) – After being rested in the Fire’s midweek game against the Chicago House, Gutiérrez notably got the start over Xherdan Shaqiri. It is unknown whether that be because the Swiss international is reportedly still recovering from injury or simply because Ezra has started reading the tweets under the CF97 hashtag. Regardless of why this change finally happened, Guti was quiet in this match and struggled to fully press his foot on the gas. The Fire were never able to formulate any offensive threat down the middle of the park, with Guti being substituted in the 73rd minute for Xherdan Shaqiri.
Kei Kamara (7) – The Fire’s trade for Kei Kamara was widely touted as a solid move as the team struggled to find goals last season, and Kamara is historically one of the most consistent scorers in Major League Soccer. I’m not sure many would expect him to have the impact he has had though, as he is currently the team’s leading scorer with four goals. Kamara is currently scoring every-other game, and this was no exception. Besides his goal, Kamara engaged in 20 duels and helped the Fire try and regain possession with his pressing countless times. The only issue was that Kamara’s fitness struggled a bit here, but that is expected given that he is 38 years old.
Mauricio Pineda (7) – Taking off Carlos Terán in the 33rd minute, Pineda would play the remainder of the time left as a center-back, and did well to try and keep the Red Bulls from becoming a threat. Even though he played 53 minutes out of the full 90, Pineda entered into 17 duels, which was the second-highest across both teams. Mauricio Pineda typically is one of the Fire’s best passers, but was relatively below average in this outing, but that is likely due to the Fire’s inability to retain possession in the second half of the game.
Fabian Herbers (4.5) – Coming on in the 62nd minute for Federico Navarro in a bit of a head-scratching decision, Herbers was unable to make his presence known in the midfield. Directly after coming on, possession violently shifted in favor of New York, and that is statistically apparently related to Herbers coming on and Fede coming off. I don’t want to knock Herbers too much as it wasn’t his choice to come on, but a much better performance was necessary for the Fire to come out with a much-needed win.
Alonso Aceves (5) – Alonso Aceves appeared in the 62nd minute as a substitute for Chris Mueller and was unable to make any impact on the game despite his great performance during the Fire’s midweek game against the Chicago House. Aceves only accurately completed 20% of his passes but did engage in five duels as Ezra started parking the bus.
Jonathan Dean (5) – Coming on to play as a wingback/winger in the 73rd minute for Maren Haile-Selassie as the Fire would park the bus to protect their 1-0 lead, Dean was unable to pressure the Red Bulls into any kind of major mistakes or changes in play style. Alongside that, Dean also only completed 50% of his passes and won zero of his four duels. This was a performance that differed heavily from those Dean has provided so far this season.
Xherdan Shaqiri (3) – Swapping with Brian Gutiérrez in the 73rd minute, Shaqiri failed to even register a single completed pass. Given more minutes, maybe he could have amounted to one, which would have probably warranted a contract extension in the eyes of Georg Heitz. Shaq’s lack of time here holds me back from dropping the Designated Player down even further.
Ezra Hendrickson (3.5) – Many Fire fans finally thought there was some positive change on the horizon when Ezra decided to bench Xherdan Shaqiri in favor of Brian Gutiérrez as the team’s attacking midfielder, but as the game progressed it appeared to be an irregularity in terms of Henrickson’s typical coaching decisions. This may be Ezra’s worst display of tactical changes and substitutions with Gutiérrez ending up coming off to give Shaqiri his necessary designated player minutes, the decision to have all four of the Fire’s regular fullback options on the pitch at once, and the inability to sub on a forward despite the team needing another goal. 38-year-old Kei Kamara was clearly running out of gas in the later parts of the match, and despite having Georgios Koutsias and Kacper Pryzbyłko on the bench, Kamara would remain on the pitch as Ezra used all his substitutions elsewhere. Also noted several times already, the Fire blew another lead! Except it wasn’t to typically high-performing teams such as Cincinnati, Philadelphia, or Atlanta. It was to Eastern Conference last-place New York Red Bulls. Disasterclass.