The Chicago Fire dominated St. Louis CITY in a highly-anticipated matchup today and ultimately won 1-0 over their regional rivals. Rafa Czichos’ first half goal proved to be the difference between the two teams, and sent St. Louis’ large traveling contingent back down the I-55 in a sad state.
*Players are listed in the order they lined up, followed by substitutes in the order they appeared
Chris Brady (7.5) – After being rested in the U.S. Open Cup match against Saint Louis, Brady unsurprisingly got the start back in MLS play. Brady was tested early on by St. Louis, but all two of his saves were routine for the goalkeeper. Although Spencer Richey has proven to be a reliable option for the Fire, the decision to keep Chris Brady from going to the U-20 World Cup seems to be a good choice.
Miguel Ángel Navarro (7.5) – With another great performance, Miguel Ángel Navarro is beginning to really cement his place as the Fire’s starting left back despite the competition behind him. Navarro has recently shown an increased level of concentration in defense and was rarely beat one on one in this match. Miggy got forward well too, and played a few good crosses into the box. Navarro put a curled cross onto the feet of Kacper Pryzbyłko for a tap-in late into the second half, but the goal was called back for offsides on Pzybyłko’s end.
Carlos Terán (7) – Returning from a short injury-stint, Carlos Terán picked up an injury 30 minutes into the match from a strong aerial challenge. Before his substitution, Terán played well and kept St. Louis’ attack from ever getting any great looks on goal.
Mauricio Pineda (7) – Starting again as one of the Fire’s center backs, Pineda was honestly unbothered despite St. Louis trying to get an equalizer. Pineda’s only defensive stats were when he engaged in four duels, but besides that, the Chicago native never even had to make a tackle.
Arnaud Souquet (7.5) – As St. Louis chose to primarily attack on their left side of play, Arnaud Souquet’s defensive responsibilities were increased this match, however, the Frenchman kept all of Nicolas Gioacchini, Célio Pompeu, and Indiana Vassilev at bay. Souquet engaged in 11 duels and linked up well with Fabian Herbers when transitioning into the attack. After a tough start to life in MLS, Souquet has turned his fortunes around quite a bit.
Federico Navarro (7.5) – Fede once again dominated the midfield alongside partner Gastón Gimenez in a similar fashion to the last matchup between these two teams, as St. Louis struggled to dictate play through the middle due to Navarro’s physicality and defensive work rate. Fede Navarro had the Fire’s second-highest accurate passing rate with 84.8%, and entered 11 duels, winning 60% of them.
Gastón Giménez (7.5) – After playing a frighteningly close back pass to Chris Brady in the first few minutes of the match, Gastón calmed down quite a bit in terms of moving the ball around the field and ultimately played another solid game. Although shown a yellow card for persistent infringement, Giménez kept the midfield incredibly stable and posted an 82% accurate passing rate and 15 duels, which was a match-high.
Xherdan Shaqiri (8.5) – Where did this guy come from and what did he do to Shaqiri? In an almost unrecognizable performance from the Designated Player, Shaq was feeding ball after ball to his teammates into space, constantly playing inch-perfect through balls. Shaqiri stood over a freekick for the Fire in the 40th minute, where he played a looped ball to the back post onto the head of Rafael Czichos for the Fire’s opening goal.
Brian Gutiérrez (8) – Apparently the best way to stop Brian Gutiérrez from getting goal contributions is to foul him. St. Louis did that, often. Ask John Nelson about that. Besides drawing Nelson into a challenge to get him sent off, Guti linked up well with his fellow attackers and created a solid amount of goalscoring opportunities. Brian Gutiérrez did struggle a bit with the physicality of St. Louis but overall played well.
Fabian Herbers (7.5) -–Fabi started as the Fire’s right-winger in this match following the absences of Chris Mueller and Maren Haile-Selassie, and once again proved to be a reliable option. Herbers notably linked up well with Arnaud Souquet all throughout the match and continued to perform when alternating sides with Brian Guitérrez. Herbers was substituted for Georgios Koutsias in the 72nd minute.
Kei Kamara (7) – Kamara was extremely dangerous in the first half of the match, posting a handful of shots on target that were all unfortunately saved by St. Louis goalkeeper Roman Bürki. Besides that, Kei Kamara was extremely helpful for the Fire in buildup play and kept the pressure high during his whole tenure despite showing some fatigue. Kei Kamara was swapped for Kacper Pryzbyłko in the 72nd minute.
Rafael Czichos (8) – Czichos appeared in the 34th minute as a substitute for Carlos Terán following an injury to the Colombian and made his mark on the match only six minutes later when scoring the Fire’s opening goal off of a cross from a Shaqiri freekick. Czichos ended his evening by posting a 90% pass accuracy, which was the highest across both teams.
Kacper Przybyłko (6) – Appearing as a substitute for Kei Kamara in the 72nd minute, Kacper didn’t appear too interested in the match, signaled through his body language and lack of concentration in some instances. The Pole did work back here and there though and was unlucky to have a goal called back for offsides, but in the end, it did not have a noticeable impact.
Georgios Koutsias (6.5) – Georgios Koutsias entered play as a substitute for Fabian Herbers in the 72nd minute as a right winger and had some solid moments despite his limited minutes. Koutsias worked hard to try and catch St. Louis out in transition, and did in a few instances, but never got a goal or assist.
Jairo Torres (N/A) – Jairo returned to play for his first game since sustaining an injury in the Fire’s home opener as a sub for Brian Gutiérrez in the 89th minute, but unfortunately was not able to earn enough minutes to be properly rated.
Frank Klopas (8) – In his first two matches as head coach this season, Klopas ended any thoughts of a rivalry with St. Louis by dominating them in both matches. His substitutions are what fans should expect given the squad’s current fitness, but in terms of man-management, all of the Fire players seem way more bought into the team’s tactics than when Ezra Hendrickson was still head coach, despite there being minimal changes. Klopas is seemingly getting the best out of Xherdan Shaqiri, and although Shaq’s performances have a long way to go before justifying his wage bill, Klopas is setting the Designated Player in the right direction. This coaching tenure could not have started better for Frank Klopas. Third time must be the charm.