Frank Klopas elected to field a heavily rotated side in his new favorite three-back experiment on the Fire’s field trip to Foxborough to take on the New England Revolution. After an early Georgios Koutsias finish and an own goal from New England, the Revs came back to set the score at 2-2. Maren Haile-Selassie scored to get the Fire up 3-2, but poor marking saw MLS and USMNT legend Jozy Altidore score just four minutes later to equalize again. Here is a short recap of the Fire’s individual performers.
*Players are listed in the order they lined up, followed by substitutes in the order they appeared
Chris Brady (7) – Returning as the Fire’s starting goalie after Klopas gave the nod to Spencer Richey against Austin FC, similar to the 3-3 tie against Atlanta, there wasn’t much Brady could have done to have kept the ball out of the Fire’s net. The homegrown made three saves total, but in the 55th minute, he came up big to keep the Fire in the game while it was 2-2.
Kendall Burks (6.5) – Playing on the left side of Mauricio Pineda, Burks had a decent game as he sort of oddly got into the attacking half a few times despite his limiting role as a center-back in a three. Burks posted 0.27 expected goals off of two shots and, alongside that, had a good passing game. Alongside his defensive partners, Burks likely could have done more to keep the Fire ahead but generally played well enough. Burks was substituted for Arnaud Souquet in the 73rd minute.
Mauricio Pineda (6) – Playing as the center back in the middle of the back three, Pineda had a bit of a rough match defensively. Pineda was only involved in three duels, and he won one of them. The defender had another display of his great passing, however his night was cut short after a ball off the face forced Mauri into injury, then being subbed off for Rafael Czichos in the 61st minute.
Wyatt Omsberg (6.5) – Omsberg got the start as the Fire’s right-sided center back and did alright, completing 83% of his passes and getting into a handful of duels. Omsberg really did the most he could do in terms of defending when the Fire got scored on, and overall had a good showing, but maybe could have done more defensively.
Miguel Ángel Navarro (7.5) – Playing again as a left-wingback, Miggy played the cross that was deflected into the net by Andrew Farrell in the 22nd minute to put the Fire up 2-0. Besides that, Navarro was one of the Fire’s best performers as he entered seven duels, had two tackles, and won four fouls.
Gastón Giménez (6.5) – Playing next to Jairo Torres as the Fire’s two central midfielders, Gastón had a lackluster match, notably being dispossessed easily a handful of times and showing some clear fatigue when having to track back. Giménez still passed well and was pretty involved defensively, but that could partially be due to the aforementioned Torres placing most of that responsibility on the Paraguayan.
Jairo Torres (6.5) – In his first start since returning from injury, Torres had a fairly mediocre game despite his recent substitute appearances being impactful. Jairo was good at keeping possession, but a subtle lack of defensive action or attacking creativity kept JT from really standing out in the Fire’s two-man midfield pivot. Torres was substituted for Brian Gutiérrez in the 67th minute.
Maren Haile-Selassie (7) – Although struggling a bit to get involved through the first half and beginning of the second half as the Fire’s right-wingback, Maren came up big time as he scored in the 78th minute from a quality one-time finish after receiving a ball on the turn from Kei Kamara in the Rev’s box. Afterward, and specifically after conceding again, Maren took on more defenders and showed some final-minute intensity as he tried to get the Fire back ahead but ultimately could not.
Xherdan Shaqiri (8) – Getting the start despite many fans assuming he’d be rested, Shaqiri immediately got involved in the match as he played a beautiful through-ball to Georgios Koutsias to score in the tenth minute. Shaq was influential in some aspect of every major attack the Fire had, which may add to the recent potential for justification of his hefty price tag. On another side-note, Shaqiri also led the match amongst both teams for duels, with 16 total.
Georgios Koutsias (7.5) – Earning his first start in Major League Soccer, Koutsias started in a pairing with Kacper Pryzbyłko and made his presence known early on as he scored in the tenth minute after getting on the end of a pass from Xherdan Shaqiri. Besides his goal, Koutsias pressed extremely well and showed better than usual in terms of his dribbling. Koutsias was substituted for Alonso Aceves in the 73rd minute.
Kacper Przybyłko (5.5) – After finally finding some form recently, Kacper’s performance level was notably lower coincidentally after being put in his preferred two-striker system. Pryzbyłko was largely ineffective in the attack other than a few instances of linkup play with Xherdan Shaqiri and… that’s about it. A slow performance was marred with Kacper being forced into concussion protocol after a collision between two New England players, subsequently being substituted out for Kei Kamara in the 62nd minute.
Rafael Czichos (6.5) – After an injury to Pineda, Czichos was substituted in for the Bolingbrook native in the 61st minute. With the Revs gaining most of the attacking momentum, all Rafa could really do was defend during his stint on the pitch. Pretty much exclusively just defending, Czichos likely expected to get a straight rest this match, so throwing him in a bit cold with most of the center-back depth already on the field probably didn’t help.
Kei Kamara (7) – Kei Kamara subbed out the concussion-protocolled Kacper Pryzbyłko in the 62nd minute and immediately became involved as the Fire were forced to try and rely on counter-attacks and interceptions. Kamara worked hard to press, later being rewarded for his efforts after receiving the ball in the box and then turning to lay it off to Maren Haile-Selassie for the Fire’s third goal.
Brian Gutiérrez (6.5) – Guti came on as a sub for Jairo Torres in the 67th minute, and as the Fire shifted around tactically to accommodate the influx of substitutions, Guti got lost in transition a bit, never really making his mark. It was a bit of an off night in terms of the youngster’s passing and creativity, but hopefully, Guti uses his short stint of time as a rest for the important and soon-to-come game against Toronto FC.
Alonso Aceves (5.5) – Replacing Koutsias in the 73rd minute, Aceves never positively got into the game. Aceves had a few overlaps where he received the ball out wide, but nothing ever came from it. His most notable action, however, was dropping his mark in the 83rd minute, with his mark Jozy Altidore, who then scored.
Arnaud Souquet (N/A) – Coming on for Kendall Burks in the 73rd minute, Souquet never got the chance to do, well, really anything other than knock the ball back and forth a few times. Souquet had only 11 touches and went into one duel, and given the lack of action, I do not believe Souquet can be labeled with an accurate rating.
Frank Klopas (7) – The original reaction by most fans after seeing Klopas’ starting lineup was, well, a bit confused. Rotation was expected, but the players starting made it a bit difficult to envision how the Fire actually was going to look on the pitch. Ultimately, Klopas opted to stick with his wingbacks after originally trying it out against Austin with a 3-4-3, but he is now moving into a 3-4-1-2 after resting plenty of players. The decision to play with wing-backs again had its positives and negatives, and some credit should be given to this team going ahead twice this match. Although not a crazy or bizarre decision, Klopas’s choice to play primarily rotational players had its repercussions, as the Fire really should have come out with all three points.