The Fire faced off against Nashville away with a notably rotated side and left the Music City with zero points and an injured Rafael Czichos after Hany Muhktar scored a hattrick. Ezra Hendrickson spiced it up and started the team in a 3-4-1-2, but after the injury to Czichos, Hendrickson moved the team back to their normal 4-2-3-1, where they then provided an absolutely abysmal performance which saw the Fire drop into 14th place in the Eastern Conference.
*Players are listed in the order they lined up, followed by substitutes in the order they appeared
Chris Brady (7.5) – Probably the only positive to come out of this match was the performance of Chris Brady, as the homegrown made a handful of notable saves to keep the Fire’s hopes of getting a draw alive. As two of Nashville’s goals were penalties, there is not much more that fans could have expected out of the youngster.
Alonso Aceves (6) – Aceves started as the team’s left-wingback and showed glimpses of his talent on the ball. Despite that those glimpses, Aceves was incredibly susceptible in defense and was under pressure by Nashville’s forwards for the whole 90 minutes. Against House, Aceves was hailed for his attacking threat and ability to put in a solid cross, but in this match, Aceves couldn’t even get the ball into the box.
Rafael Czichos (7) – Rafa Czichos started as the Fire’s central defender in Ezra’s 3-4-1-2, and busted the team out early with a few tackles inside the six-yard box, but after an early injury scare the captain was substituted out after 21 minutes for Maren-Haile Selassie.
Wyatt Omsberg (5) – Getting his first Major League Soccer start for the Fire this season, his performance couldn’t have been much worse than it was. The only visual I can get of Omsberg is when he was absolutely dusted by Jacob Shaffelburg right before earning Nashville’s second penalty. Omsberg was too slow physically and on the ball and was ultimately punished for it.
Kendall Burks (5) – The defense overall struggled when forced back into a 4-2-3-1, but the center-back pairing, in particular, struggled to deal with the pace and flair of Nashville’s attack. Burks particularly gave away a poor penalty after the Fire were hit with a counterattack, resulting in Nashville’s second goal. It was just not a good showing for the talented youngster.
Jonathan Dean (5) – Another player who was not up to the task in this match, Dean started in his natural right-wingback role and was alright before the Fire’s formation switch. After being pushed back into a more defensive role, Jonathan Dean showed engaged in ten duels, winning none of them. That statistic speaks volumes on its own already.
Federico Navarro (6.5) – Besides giving Nashville their first penalty, Fede was one of the only players from the Fire who were even just average. In a game where Nashville had 18 interceptions, Fede held a 91.2% passing rate. On top of that, Navarro was involved in 12 duels, winning eight of them. Outside of these stats, however, Fede could not pull the starter rope hard enough to get the team’s attacking going at all.
Fabian Herbers (5) – Herbers started the match as Federico Navarro’s midfield partner but had relatively no impact on the game as the Fire were mildly out-possessed in the first half. Herbers also was not a threat going forward, and with these factors having accumulated, Fabian Herbers was substituted directly after the second half commenced for Gastón Giménez.
Xherdan Shaqiri (4) – Same old same old for Xherdan. A lot of not running, a lot of complaining, and a lot of misplaced passes. The only positive that comes to mind is Shaqiri playing a beautiful pass on the turn to Brian Gutiérrez for the Fire’s sole big chance. At the same time, I vividly remember Shaqiri walking miles behind Kacper Przybyłko when the forward was leading a counterattack despite Shaq originally being the closest attacker to the striker. I guess, in the end, performances really don’t matter when your pillow is stuffed with eight million dollars.
Kacper Przybyłko (5.5) – Getting the start in a pretty rotated attack for the Fire, Kacper, who I will now be referring to as Bylko thanks to Twitter, provided some linkup play throughout the first half, but as the team could barely get anything going in attack there was not much the Polish striker could do. Bylko had a notable counterattack opportunity in the first half but was given little support by his teammates, ultimately ending in nothing. Kacper was substituted in the 63rd minute for Kei Kamara.
Georgios Koutsias (5.5) – Koutsias started the match as Kacper Przybyłko’s strike partner but would be shifted out wide following an injury to Rafael Czichos early on. Koutsias never really got involved in the game, and as the Fire were trailing, the Greek youth international would be substituted shortly after halftime to make way for Brian Gutiérrez.
Maren Haile-Selassie (6) – Haile-Sellasie was subbed on after 21 minutes for Rafael Czichos and helped give the Fire a sliver of attacking threat by running at the Nashville backline and putting them briefly on their back feet. It was not a night the winger will remember in terms of end product, though, with nothing ever amounting from the Swiss’ efforts.
Gastón Giménez (6) – Subbing on after halftime for Fabian Herbers, Giménez’s recent good form did not translate well in this match, with the Paraguyan not doing anything of note besides pass it straight out of bounds on one occasion. Interestingly enough, Giménez only engaged in two duels despite the Fire defending most of the time when they did not have the ball. Not a great performance by any means, but Giménez was just thrown straight into this cesspool of a match.
Brian Gutiérrez (6.5) – Swapping with Georgios Koutsias after halftime, the biggest question was why the homegrown was not playing despite not being allowed to depart for the U-20 World Cup. Apparently, this decision was simply down to some slight groin tension, but Gutiérrez would be subbed on anyway. Guti was given the best chance of the night for the Fire after Xherdan Shaqiri found his feet from a driven through ball, but the youngster would shoot directly at Joe Willis.
Kei Kamara (6) – Kei Kamara would be substituted on in the 63rd minute for Kacper Przybyłko and made a decent effort to get something going in attack. Kamara had a good first-time shot saved by Joe Willis, but other than that was relatively uninvolved. That is probably due to the Fire’s general inability to attack or retain quality possession in this match, however.
Ezra Hendrickson (4.5) – The decision to use heavy rotation in this match has received mixed reviews, especially given Brian Gutiérrez starting on the bench, but overall it was a decision most managers would make. The decision to keep the defense the way it was also an interesting one, as collectively, it was one of the team’s worst displays all season. That choice, again, was likely due to rest purposes, but maybe Ezra should have rested Czichos instead of playing him, as if the German misses out against Saint Louis midweek, the results could be catastrophic. The five-back experiment returned briefly, and it is good (I guess) to see some kind of tactical decisions ticking in Ezra’s head. The subs were alright, but subbing off Koutsias before Kacper is not a choice many would make. Given the upcoming US Open Cup match, some slack has to be given. Not a lot, though. This was the most depressing performance I have seen from the league’s most notable underachievers in a long time.