Following last week’s draw against NYCFC, the Fire head to Philly on a mission for their first three points of the season. With Chris Brady expectedly starting in net following a minor injury last week, Ezra Hendrickson made a tactical change to the surprise of many by lining up the team in a 5-3-2 formation. The Fire played well in the first half, controlling possession and creating solid goalscoring opportunities, but following a slow start to the second half, met with a Fabian Herbers red card shortly after; they would defend for almost the entire second half and ultimately concede in the 90th minute. Kei Kamara would also (fairly) receive his second yellow card in the 93rd minute, putting the Fire in a spot where they would finish the game with 9 men.
Chris Brady (7) – To clear the air immediately, yes Chris was at fault for the goal. It is also important to note that Chris Brady is also only 19 years old, only making his second MLS start, was injured last weekend, and had a stellar performance up until the goal was conceded. Brady only recorded 1 save, but came off his line several times to either collect the ball or disrupt the Philadelphia attack. It’s unfortunate that such a competent performance ended with a goal in such poor fashion, but expect Brady to learn and come back even stronger.
Arnaud Souquet (5.5) – After an average performance last weekend, Souquet didn’t do nearly enough make an impact on the field playing as a right-wingback. The Frenchman only got upfield to provide service a handful of times, and when he did get into the channel, his crosses and overall linkup play were poor. Souquet would be substituted by Jonathan Dean in the 55th minute.
Carlos Terán (7.5) – Unfortunately with the game being a loss, it doesn’t properly signify how well our three center backs performed, with Terán being the most notable. Tackle after tackle, Téran put on a great defensive showing despite the statistics. In his most impressive defensive moment, In the 74th minute, Téran would barely intercept a cross from out wide, stopping what would have been an easy finish to put Philadephia in front. If he keeps this up, it won’t be long until we hear about European interest in the Colombian.
Rafael Czichos (7) – In another strong defensive showing from our captain, it was Czichos who had the first opportunity of the game off of a well-delivered freekick from Shaqiri. The Fire ultimately did not score, but the German put in another solid performance despite the immense pressure from Philadelphia in the second half of the match. Without this performance from our center-back tri-pairing, the Fire could have easily fallen to multiple second-half goals.
Kendall Burks (7) – In his third start for the club, Kendall Burks put in a great performance, continuously interrupting any flow Philly could find in the first half. The 23-year-old would make 2 interceptions and would play through the whole 90 minutes without any notable errors. In a game that ended so drearily, this level of performance from Burks was a bright spot in a center-back pool that is probably amongst the best in the league for depth.
Miguel Ángel Navarro (6) – In another world, Miguel Navarro likely would have tallied an assist in this match. The most common complaint about Miggy is that he does not do enough when going forward in the attack, but Miggy did well at left-wingback when the full XI was on the pitch. In the first half, Miggy was dangerous when putting in crosses or getting into good spaces to support his teammates. Before Fabian Herbers would be sent off, Philadelphia found their most open space on Navarro’s left side. Nothing would amount, but then the Fire would be forced to defend for almost the whole second half. Navarro is more known for his defensive ability, but here he struggled to contain the Philly attack, with multiple solid goalscoring chances coming from his side.
Gastón Giménez (6.5) – Beginning the game with a goal-line clearance, the first half was well played by the former designated player as he maintained possession well and would help connect the defense and attack in the Fire’s new look 5-3-2. Losing his original midfield partner in the 50th minute, Gastón would only last around 15 more minutes before being substituted likely due to injury concerns.
Fabian Herbers (5) – Coming off of an MLS Team of the Week appearance and being the Fire’s sole goalscorer against NYCFC, this was a poor showing for Fabi against his former club. Notably, Herbers played the best against NYCFC when playing as a right-winger, but today he would start as Gastón’s pivot partner. Before a needless yellow card in the first half, Fabian Herbers was a ghost of his last week’s self in this match. Herbers would put in an extremely poor sliding challenge in the 50th minute, and would subsequently be shown a second yellow to end his outing.
Xherdan Shaqiri (6) – Against NYCFC, Shaq was arguably the worst player for the Fire to remain on the field past halftime. With that said, Shaqiri did well to create early in the game off of dead balls and showed flashes of his dribbling ability. Following the red card to Fabian Herbers, the entire team slowed down offensively, but given Shaqiri’s DP status and salary, he continues to leave the Fire faithful (and most neutrals for that matter) wanting more. He would draw a few more fouls but was never able to get going again. He would be substituted at the 76th minute for Javier Casas Jr. when it seemed the Swiss international asked for a substitution, which is an action that coincides with a performance where his effort for the team was not consistent.
Kei Kamara (6) – Kamara was dangerous early on in the match, even scoring a goal that would be ruled as offsides. With Kacper as his partner, Kamara often would drift out wide and help formulate an attack with the rest of the team. Kei did well and proved to be a force until the team’s first suspension. With his partner being substituted, Kamara would not do a whole lot in the attack in the second half, but ultimately nobody really did. The biggest issue with Kamara’s performance comes when he gets a second yellow card in the 93rd minute and gets sent off. You would likely suspect veteran leadership from Kei to see the game off when the team is already short on strikers and overall players, but that was just not the case, and now what likely would have been a start against Cincinnati turned into a view of the game from the stands.
Kacper Pryzbyłko (5.5) – Coming off a poor performance against NYCFC, Kacper would get the start against his former team in a system in which he would get to play with a strike partner, which is what he was successful in at Philly. Kacper had moments of alright linkup play, but again would miss chances that other starting MLS strikers would feast upon. Kacper would be substituted in the 55th minute, likely to make tactical accommodations because of the first red card.
Chris Mueller (6) – After an injury scare last weekend, Chris Mueller returned to the pitch as a substitute in this match. Mueller was substituted on in the 55th minute, but due to the combination of Philadelphia’s overwhelming press and the Fire having to play down a man, there wasn’t much the winger could do.
Jonathan Dean (6.5) – In his debut for the Fire, Dean would be substituted on in the 55th minute in a like-for-like sub for Arnaut Souquet at right-wingback. Being forced to defend almost the entire 35 minutes he played, Dean did well to stop any significantly dangerous chances from being created on his side. Much to Fire fan’s delight, Dean also gave a flash of his work ethic, taking the ball from the Fire’s box off a failed delivery and driving all the way into the Philly half, charging into a one versus four situation, where he would earn a foul. With Souquet struggling to make a major impact yet so far, Dean could look to earn consistent minutes with performances like this.
Mauricio Pineda (6) – Mauricio would be substituted on following an injury to Gastón Giménez in the 65th minute. At this point in the game, there wasn’t much Pineda could do when trying to build possession or help get the team forward, but his defensive quality was consistent despite the heavy press of the Union.
Javier Casas Jr. (6) – Somewhat surprisingly, Javier Casas would be substituted on for Xherdan Shaqiri in the 76th minute. Casas showed glimpses of his talent and confidence, ripping a longshot that unfortunately was not very close. Hopefully, this game serves as a testament to Ezra’s trust in the youngster and not just a sub on the fly to appease a DP who did not want to be on the field.
Ezra Hendrickson (6.5) – Surprisingly, Ezra shocked most spectators by putting the team out in a 5-3-2 formation. It actually was pretty successful in the first half, with the team dominating possession and creating good goal-scoring opportunities. As injuries and suspensions would go, Ezra’s subs were about what you would expect for the most part besides the early season debut of Javier Casas Jr. The biggest issue comes from the clear inability to assert leadership over a team that clearly had problems with conduct and mental fortitude in 2022. For a team that had 5 red cards and 81 yellow cards last season, and 2 red cards, and 6 yellows in their second game of the season, this is worrisome.