Despite being reduced to ten men just 26 minutes into the match because of a controversial second yellow card issued to Federico Navarro, the Fire and Atlanta locked horns to hash out a 3-3 scoreline. Both teams took the lead on separate occasions, and Atlanta even had a player sent off themselves, but with United up 3-2 thanks to a Giorgios Giakoumakis brace, up stepped the Fire’s own Georgios who equalized in the 89th minute. Here is a recap of the Fire’s performers in this match.
*Players are listed in the order they lined up, followed by substitutes in the order they appeared
Chris Brady (7) – Besides some slight slippage to Andrew Gutman (who was unmarked) for Atlanta’s opening goal, Brady was solid. Brady posted four saves against Atlanta, with one of the more notable of them having stopped Thiago Almada from scoring another free kick.
Miguel Ángel Navarro (7) – Navarro had another match that is night-and-day compared to those of last season and earlier this season. The Venezuelan was formidable defensively once again and had some decent looks for providing service to the Fire’s forwards in their chase(s) for goals. Miggy had 10 duels, 0.15 expected assists, and an 82.4% accurate pass rate, which is notably high for the left-back.
Rafael Czichos (7) – It was more of the same for Czichos, as the Fire’s captain continues to be a reliable performer in the backline. Czichos was slightly more poor than usual in defense, only winning two duels and winning one tackle and slightly being caught out when shifting for Atlanta’s second goal. Rafa did have higher passing numbers though, and was involved in getting the Fire’s wingers and fullbacks the ball higher up field in order to try and work around Atlanta’s defense.
Mauricio Pineda (6.5) – Pineda showed some growing pains at center back after having some miscommunications with Arnaud Souquet and Rafael Czichos on marking for Atlanta’s second goal, and not seemingly talking enough with Kacper Przybyłko who received the ball with a man on his back from Mauricio and then lost it, resulting in Giorgios Giakoumakis scoring Atlanta’s third. Although both goals are technically not his fault, Mauri could have done more to avoid both situations entirely. On a more positive note, Pineda had an accurate pass percentage of 91.7%, which is extremely high for a center back.
Arnaud Souquet (6) – Arnaud Souquet was a bit sloppier in possession than he has been of late, with a misplaced pass from the Frenchman being the starting point for Navarro’s second yellow card. Souquet also struggled with delivery from out wide, which has often been one of his stronger points in playstyle recently. Souquet also miscommunicated with Pineda and Czichos on the Fire’s man-marking in the box, which saw Atlanta score their second goal. Not significantly worse than usual, but a noticeable hiccup in form. Souquet was substituted for Georgios Koutsias in the 80th minute.
Federico Navarro (5) – After receiving a yellow card just three minutes into the match, Navarro was shown his second booking for a foul that in all honestly did not warrant a second card, if it was Fede who made contact at all. Regardless of the second booking, and if Fede’s first card even should have been given either, it is hard for a player shown red to have a positive impact on the game. At the same time though, how can a player be docked a large portion of his rating for being on the wrong end of a fairly questionable referee decision?
Fabian Herbers (6.5) – Starting in the Fire’s midfield double pivot in the absence of Gastón Giménez, Herbers had decent showings of possession and buildup play, often ending up being fed the ball into space on the counterattack. Once Fabi received the ball though, he was too slow to make a decision or drive forward, which cost the Fire opportunities on more than one occasion. As well, it was Fabian Herbers’ man Gutman who was given slightly too much space to run onto a loose Brady save to score Atlanta’s first goal. With an average performance on the night, Herbers was substituted off for Chris Mueller in the 73rd minute.
Xherdan Shaqiri (7) – Major League Soccer states it was an Atlanta own-goal for the Fire’s equalizer, but if you asked Shaqiri he’d likely say he scored an Olimpico. Regardless of who actually scored, the ball went in the net in part due to Shaqiri, so that has to count for something. Besides that Shaq was once again good at providing service for his teammates and constructing counterattacks for the Fire, but evidently looked a bit tired from about halftime and on.
Maren Haile-Selassie (8.5) – The biggest game-changer for the Fire in this match was Haile-Selassie, as the Swiss winger scored the Fire’s second goal and assisted Koutsias’ equalizer. Maren was extremely dangerous for the entirety of the match and had the match’s second-highest accurate passing rate for a player with 90 minutes at 93.3%. After his short injury stint, it is great to see Maren already back in the swing of things, if not even better than before.
Brian Gutiérrez (7.5) – Brain Gutiérrez had a quieter match in terms of his dribbling, but his overall offensive performance was reliable once again. Guti created several openings for his teammates early on through counter-attacks and fast buildup play, but for a variety of reasons was not involved in any goal contributions. The largest reason is likely that the Fire shifted to a midfield four in-which Guti was involved in to try and work against Atlanta’s pre-red-card press which limited his ability to just go forward.
Kacper Przybyłko (7.5) – Sometimes it can be easy to feel inclined to hound Przybyłko for his performances, but even though the Pole did not score this match, he was extremely influential for trying to catch Atlanta out in transition while the Fire were down a man. Przybyłko worked hard to link up with his teammates all over the pitch and was rewarded for his efforts after chesting the ball down to Haile-Selassie to finish for the Fire’s second goal.
Chris Mueller (6.5) – Mueller appeared as a substitute for Herbers in the 73rd minute and tried to make an impact on the game offensively, but was still a bit too slow in terms of his decision-making and dribbling. The desire to change the game was evident from Mueller, but he continues to struggle to find good form coming out of his recent injury.
Georgios Koutsias (7) – Koutsias came on as a substitute in the 80th minute for Souquet as Klopas was lining the Fire up to go all-out attack to try and get an equalizer. Frank Klopas’ plan turned out to work as Koutsias scored a close-range finish off a pass from Haile-Selassie to put the final score at 3-3. Koutsias was fueled by the fact he could make it so that half of the match’s goals game from a player named Georgios (ignoring spelling).
Jairo Torres (7) – Jairo Torres replaced Brian Gutiérrez in the 80th minute, and had a decent showing given how limited his minutes were. Jairo mostly worked on defense but did help move the ball around on the outside flanks in order to try and find the best cross possible for the Fire to score, which was how the initial cross came about for Koutsias’ goal. Overall, it is hard to grade Jairo based on the fact he got only a minute more than the minimum to be graded, but his limited action on the field was positive.
Frank Klopas (7.5) – In terms of lineups and substitutions, they were about what fans could expect from Frank Klopas. The most noticeable thing Klopas has brought to the table as the team’s coach though is an energy and passion that he has invigorated into a Fire side that was growing infamous for dropping leads and giving disappointing performances. Technically speaking, this game was a dropped lead itself, but given that the Fire got ahead while down a man, conceded twice more, and found another goal to get a point off of Atlanta is impressive and shows a very drastic change mental change for the Fire. Although things are not perfect, Klopas has definitely improved the team’s mentality and hunger to win in their chase for the playoffs.