The Chicago Fire are up and running. With a 2-0 road win against D.C., the Fire climb to fifth place in the early Eastern Conference standings, and with a third successive shutout, there is a lot to be excited about. Let's look at how the players fared in our nation’s capital.
Starting Lineup (left to right): Slonina; M. Navarro, Czichos, Omsberg, Sekulić; Giménez, Pineda (F. Navarro 71’); Herbers (Gutiérrez 63’), Shaqiri, Ivanov (Bornstein 71’); Przybyłko
Gaga Slonina (8) — Slonina made four saves, earning his seventh career shutout from just fourteen career MLS appearances. He wasn’t perfect — he had a few distribution moments where he could have done better — but considering that he played much of the second half through a hurt ankle and difficult cold conditions, he did exactly what was needed. His best moment came in the 14th minute when he had made a huge save from point-blank range against Ola Kamara. It will be exciting to see how he progresses throughout the year.
Miguel Ángel Navarro (7.5) — The Venezuelan left-back had one of his best games defensively in a Fire shirt. Navarro made six interceptions and won 6/7 of his ground duels. He gave up one big chance to Kamara as he slowed down in the last 25 minutes, but it was still an admirable performance nonetheless.
Rafael Czichos (7.5) — Another solid showing for the captain. Czichos soldiered through a second-half injury to help secure another clean sheet, keeping the back line organized. He also made 14 clearances. He had a few chances to score down the other end of the field, and if he can add goals to his game, he will become even more valuable.
Wyatt Omsberg (7) — There’s always a player that nobody expects to play a role who gets an opportunity and seizes it with both hands. For the 2022 Chicago Fire, that is Wyatt Omsberg. He had another strong defensive performance, proving that he can be an option at center back for this team.
Boris Sekulić (6.5) — Sekulić was alright, but nothing special. He made one tackle, completed 66% of his passes, and had one nice header saved right at the end. A decent showing for the Slovakian.
Gaston Giménez (8) — Gaston has quietly been an important piece for the Fire this year. He hasn’t necessarily had the production typically expected out of a DP. Still, he’s set the tempo in midfield when playing next to the more defensively-minded Mauricio Pineda in a double pivot. He completed 33 passes, progressed the ball well with three dribbles, and capped off a good night with an assist on Jonathan Bornstein’s second-half goal.
Mauricio Pineda (6.5) — As alluded to previously, Pineda was next to Giménez in defensive midfield. In 71 minutes of play, Pineda was solid once again, though it wasn’t anything special. He had one nice shot well saved by Bill Hamid from inside the box in the first half.
Fabian Herbers (6.5) — Herbers has been alright this year, but it's only a matter of time before he gets moved to the bench. That being said, he had a few good moments connecting in the final third.
Xherdan Shaqiri (7.5) — The Swiss DP hasn’t had any big contributions in the final third in a Chicago Fire shirt yet, but he’s certainly made an impact. Shaqiri had some nice passes and dribbles, and it’s only a matter of time before the goals and assists start flowing.
Stanislav Ivanov (7.5) — Ivanov finally got his first Fire goal, which is a huge boost for the winger coming off of a rough first year in Chicago. Ivanov was good at dribbling in tight spaces and had a nice dink over Hamid on the game’s decisive goal in the first half. If Ivanov can consistently play at this level, he will certainly be a good piece for the Fire in the winger position.
Kacper Przybyłko (6) — After three games since his blockbuster trade from the Philadelphia Union, Przybyłko is yet to make much of a difference in Chicago. Other than one look at goal right before the half, the #11 struggled to get involved and had fewer touches than anyone else on the field across the 90 minutes.
Brian Gutiérrez (6.5) — Gutiérrez was subbed on in the 63rd minute for the second consecutive time. In his 27 minutes shift, he made a minor impact but didn’t have much to do. He has done enough in his limited minutes to be in the conversation to start on the wing.
Jonathan Bornstein (8.5) — Bornstein had the unique challenge of playing out of position on the left wing, something he hasn’t done since a one-off appearance there in 2013. And despite that challenge, he stepped up in a big way, scoring a great goal to make the score 2-0. It was his second Fire goal.
Fede Navarro (6.5) — It’s not exactly clear why Navarro hasn’t been starting because he wasn’t included in the Fire’s injury report the last two games, but he has been fine in his short cameos off the bench nonetheless. It's only a matter of time before he gets back into the lineup, presumably once he’s back to full fitness.
Ezra Hendrickson (8) — It took Raphaël Wicky 46 games into his tenure before his Fire team earned a road win. It’s only taken Ezra Hendrickson three. The new head coach went with an identical lineup to the first two games, and that consistency worked, leading the Fire to their win. He also pushed the right buttons with his substitution, which closed out the win and helped Chicago remain unbeaten. Overall, it's safe to say he’s had great first impressions.