A brace from Kei Kamara, the debut of Giorgios Koutsias, and three points? The only thing that could have made this match better would have been a clean sheet and more goals from the Fire. Chicago started with their typical 4-2-3-1, but would eventually switch to a 5-4-1 later in the game to deal with the Minnesota press. A mix of luck and tough defending would see the Fire out of the game with a 2-1 win and move them into a playoff spot for the time being.
*Players are listed in the order they lined up, followed by substitutes in the order they appeared
Chris Brady (7) – Brady made five saves total, and was solid before a blunder to give Minnesota their lone goal in the 57th minute. It would be harsh to dock Brady down below a seven as he helped keep the Fire in the game with a close-range save in the 86th minute.
Arnaud Souquet (7.5) – In his best performance for the club yet, Souquet played with more confidence than usual and did well to get the team to transition forward. Souquet had a few crosses in the first half that didn’t amount to anything, however, Souquet would be awarded for his efforts after providing a beautiful cross to Kei Kamara in the 36th minute for a diving header that would inch past Dayne St-Clair for the Fire’s second goal. The Frenchman would lead the Fire in tackles before being substituted in the 69th minute for Wyatt Omsberg.
Carlos Terán (6.5) – Terán showed his usual self in defense and kept Minnesota’s forward line under check for most of the game. In terms of ball retention, Terán has shown better this season, but his performance was still solid overall.
Rafael Czichos (7.5) – Czichos had one of his better matches of the season in terms of his passing range and quality, posting an 83.3% completion rate, which was surprisingly on the lower end of players who started for the Fire. Czichos helped see the result through in terms of defending and leadership, much to the delight of Fire fans who may have been expecting another last-minute collapse.
Miguel Ángel Navarro (7) – Navarro fended off competition from Alonso Aceves and Jonathan Dean to get the start as the Fire’s left-back. Miggy had a composure defensively he had been missing in most games he has played this season, but still was only alright when attacking.
Fabian Herbers (7) – Herbers had a shaky start to the game, but would find some form as time went on and would eventually lead the Fire in pass completion with 91.8%. Fabi would play the whole 90 minutes and was a defensive presence throughout the game as well, which is something that had not been a strong point in his game recently.
Gastón Giménez (7) – Giménez played with a flair not really shown much in his time for the Fire, and helped the Fire get an early edge over Minnesota. As the game progressed, Giménez’s influence in the midfield did dissipate a bit, and his passing quality would dip, but overall the Paraguayan had a good performance. Giménez would be substituted in the 80th minute for Mauricio Pineda.
Brian Gutiérrez (7.5) – Unfortunate to not come out with some kind of goal contribution, Guti kept Minnesota’s backline on their toes, constantly weaving through the lines to create for his teammates. In the 72nd minute, Gutiérrez created a golden chance for Kei Kamara to grab his hat-trick as Guti would carry the ball against two Minnesota defenders before threading a through-ball to Kamara inside the box, who would then, unfortunately, put it wide.
Maren Haile-Selassie (6.5) – Haile-Selassie was a threat here and there throughout the match, but ultimately struggled to provide service of quality. The Fire did originally start with their wingers inverted which may have not helped Maren, but the Swiss winger has shown more attacking potency in previous matches. Haile-Selassie would be substituted for Jonathan Dean in the 69th minute.
Kei Kamara (8) – Getting the start ahead of Kacper Pryzbyłko and the recently arrived Giorgios Koutsias, Kamara would end up scoring both of the Fire’s goals to get them a much-needed three points. After a somewhat lucky opening goal, Kamara would nail a wonderful diving header across his body into the bottom left corner of the goal for his second of the match. Kamara was influential in the team’s buildup as well but was substituted in the 74th minute for the debut of Giorgios Koutsias.
Chris Mueller (7) – With Ezra starting with his wingers inverted, Mueller would start on the right wing instead of his favored left, but would switch back as the game grew on. Mueller was dangerous for large stretches of the match, but his finishing was more errant than usual as he would send a few shots over the bar. Despite this, his dribbling was fantastic again and opened a lot of space for the Fire.
Jonathan Dean (6.5) – Subbing off Maren-Haile Selassie in the 69th minute, Dean would play as a right-wingback as the Fire would transition into a 5-4-1 in order to try and kill the game. Most of Dean’s minutes were spent defending as Minnesota started to get a hold on the game, but the defender did well overall and continues to prove that he is a valuable asset.
Wyatt Omsberg (6.5) – Making his season debut for the Fire, Omsberg would appear in the 69th minute swapping for Arnaud Souquet as the team would transition to playing with three center backs. Omsberg did well to hold his previous club at bay as the Fire would finish the match mostly defending.
Georgios Koutsias (6.5) – Finally making his debut for the club, Koutsias would substitute Kei Kamara in the 74th minute. As the team was set up in a 5-4-1, Koutsias did not get the opportunity to play as a number nine, however, he did press well and showed his hard work ethic in the few minutes he got playing as a right midfielder.
Mauricio Pineda (N/A) – Pineda would substitute Gaston Gimenez in the 80th minute, but unfortunately did not have enough time to make any sort of impact.
Kacper Pryzbyłko (N/A) – Like Pineda, Pryzbyłko would appear in the 80th minute as a substitute for Brian Gutiérrez, but did not have enough time to make a mark on the game.
Ezra Hendrickson (7) – Ezra would choose to line the team up in their typical 4-5-1, but would later flip the team into a 5-4-1 towards the latter part of the game to try and get more defensive coverage. Tactical changes have been a shortcoming of Ezra’s plans as a manager, however this was at least a sign of some sort of change. Minnesota did manuever through the Fire a bit after this change with quick passing, overloading signs, and substitutions, but the Fire did see the match through. Credit is partially due to Ezra, as the team did not decline as much as they usually do when pressure starts to mount, with some chances even coming up late into the game. With a better rotation of subsittutues as well, Ezra did a bit more than usual, and this game was overall a positive for him.