After each Fire game this season, we’re asking our followers to select their Man of the Match. Today, you voted for midfielder Brian Gutiérrez.
— MenInRed97 (@meninred97) March 19, 2023
It was a frustrating night for the Fire, who saw a 3-1 lead evaporate in the last six minutes as Cincinnati tied the game late. That finish overshadowed the positives, with those being the effectiveness of the attacking quartet, even in the absence of Xherdan Shaqiri. While any of Chris Mueller, Maren Haile-Selassie, or Brian Gutiérrez would have been worthy winners of the man of the match award, it was the latter who will take the prize.
Guti was unfortunate not to get on the field last week, but with Shaqiri unavailable, he was the natural replacement at the #10 position. The 19-year-old has shown time and time again that he is at his best when deployed in that central role underneath the striker as opposed to out wide, and he was excellent tonight. Gutiérrez provided the assist on the first goal, playing the ball through for Kacper Przybyłko who finessed the ball into the far corner. Guti also set up the second goal, spraying a beautiful ball out to Chris Mueller on the left wing, who won the penalty Czichos converted. Even when the Fire’s attack began to whimper in the latter parts of the second half, Guti was still taking on defenders and trying to make things happen both with his passing and dribbling. He was so good as a 10 that Ezra Hendrickson will have a decision to make once Shaqiri is back, and the Swiss DP could potentially play on the wing where he has featured for Switzerland in the past.