Led by goals from Maren Haile-Selassie and Fabian Herbers, the Fire led Saint Louis CITY out the backdoor of the Lamar Hunt Open Cup in Frank Klopas’ first match as the Fire’s manager this season. The Chicago Fire performed extremely well in defense across both halves, also creating plenty of openings on the counter to keep Saint Louis on their toes after Maren’s third-minute opener. Here is a recap of how the players performed.
*Players are listed in the order they lined up, followed by substitutes in the order they appeared
Spencer Richey (6.5) – Earing a somewhat surprising start over Chris Brady, Spencer Richey was solid as he made three saves against a Saint Louis side with good attacking depth. Richey was a little shaky with distribution at times and failed to get the ball out of the air for Saint Louis’ 93rd minute goal, but overall was reliable.
Miguel Ángel Navarro (8.5) – This may have been Miggy’s best performance in a Fire jersey yet. The Venezuelan was the Fire’s best player defensively, preventing Saint Louis from finishing clear goalscoring opportunities on at least two occasions to keep the Fire ahead. Miguel Ángel Navarro posted three tackles and won 75% of his 14 duels. The left back’s performance could have been rewarded with a goal too, but some things are just too good to be true.
Wyatt Omsberg (7) – Getting the start despite a shaky performance on the weekend against Nashville, Omsberg played a good game to keep Saint Louis’ forwards away from getting too many good chances. Here and there Omsberg’s lack of pace showed when being dragged out wide, but the center-back made up for it with his physical profile. After not getting much time at the beginning of the season, it is good to see Omsberg finish a match in good form.
Mauricio Pineda (7.5) – For one reason or another, Pineda found himself moving back to playing as a center back but showed he needed little time to readapt to this change by playing a good game. A mix of solid tackles and quality positioning from the Bolingbrook native saw that the Fire kept Saint Louis scoreless until the last three minutes, which should help Pineda earn more minutes down the next few stretches of the regular season.
Arnaud Souquet (7) – One of a few of the typical Fire starters that were given a rest against Nashville in preparation for this match was Arnaud Souquet, and that choice paid off as the Frenchman kept up his recent form and had a good showing. Souquet had a few glimpses of a potential assist but should receive more credit for his work done defensively alongside pretty much all his teammates. As play often funneled out wide for Saint Louis, Souquet and Miguel Ángel Navarro were typically there to clean up the scraps.
Federico Navarro (8) – Fede was a brick wall against Saint Louis, putting in blocks followed by tackles followed by interceptions followed by… you get the idea. Fede engaged in 21 duels total, winning 60% of them, which puts him with more duels won than some Saint Louis players engaged in the period. Fede was an offensive threat as well as he left the match with 0.20 expected goals plus assists, with his most notable action being a close-range shot being heroically saved by Ben Lundt.
Gastón Giménez (7.5) – Gastón continued his streak of good form with another solid showing in the midfield. Giménez and his typical partner in crime Federico Navarro helped dominate the midfield defensively, with Saint Louis having a tough time the entire match at breaking the Fire down in the middle of the park. The former designated player and scapegoat has really turned his fortunes around this season, ending the game wearing the captain’s armband.
Xherdan Shaqiri (7) – Shaqiri started this match a little differently than normal, as the Swiss international started as the team’s captain on the night. Shaq was extremely fluid with his teammates in general possession and in attack, with the most notable attribute of his game being that he actually provided effort. Hopefully, this match was a sign of things to come regarding performances for Xherdan Shaqiri. Shaq was substituted in the 62nd minute for Fabian Herbers.
Brian Gutiérrez (8.5) – After being rested against Nashville, Guti started this match as the team’s left winger in Frank Klopas’ effort to fit Shaqiri and the homegrown on the field together, with the youngster having performed extremely well. Gutiérrez was highly creative the entire match, finally being awarded for his efforts as he assisted Fabian Herbers’ goal in the 75th minute. This marks Guti’s fourth assist of the year across all competitions as he continues to lead the Fire in this category. Brian Gutiérrez was subbed off in the 89th minute for Georgios Koutsias.
Maren Haile-Selassie (7) – Maren scored before I could even have his introduction written, so that should say something. Haile-Selassie scored in the third minute of play after Mauricio Pineda‘s headed clearance fell into space for the winger. Maren was a notable offensive threat for the Fire, providing pace and great dribbling as the team’s front four players looked extremely fluid together throughout the match. Haile-Selassie was substituted at halftime for Chris Mueller.
Kei Kamara (6.5) – Although Kamara didn’t get too many goalscoring opportunities in this match, the pressure the forward put on Saint Louis’ backline was extremely helpful for his teammates, with the veteran also helping out with linkup play throughout his whole tenure on the pitch. Kamara was substituted in the 83rd minute for Kacper Przybyłko.
Chris Mueller (6) – Chris Mueller came on in at halftime as a substitute for Maren-Haile Selassie, and although he still has not found his way out of his dip in form, the winger still helped the Fire preserve and increase their lead through constant pressure on the Saint Louis defense. Mueller likely should have scored a goal given the great chances created for him by his teammates, but nothing ever amounted.
Fabian Herbers (7) – After questions arose regarding Fabian Herbers’ role in the team heading into the 2023 season, the German has shown up as one of the team’s most influential depth players, subbing on or starting in almost every game so far. In this match, Herbers was about to earn strictly hustle points for pressing Saint Louis deep in their own box, but a mistake from Ben Lundt and some craftsmanship from Brian Gutiérrez saw the midfielder score his second goal of the year.
Kacper Przybyłko (N/A) – Swapping with Kei Kamara in the 83rd minute, Przybyłko did not play long enough to be properly rated.
Georgios Koutsias (N/A) – Koutsias appeared as a substitute for Brian Gutiérrez in the 89th minute, but did not earn enough minutes to warrant a proper rating.
Frank Klopas (7) – Klopas marked his third managerial return to the club in perfect fashion. The team’s lineup was possibly the best choice possible, and it seemed there was a greater sense of unity and effort from the Fire’s players on the pitch during the match, which is an extremely positive sign. Some may argue the substitutions could have been better, but the ones made ended up working out, and the team (kind of) defended a lead well for the first time this season. With questions arising about Klopas’ role as interim head coach in the wake of the sacking of Ezra Hendrickson, this win provides some positivity surrounding the appointment of the former player.