The Chicago Fire earned another huge win, crushing a depleted Sporting Kansas City team 3-1. Xherdan Shaqiri scored his first MLS goal from the penalty spot, sandwiched by Kacper Przybyłko's maiden Fire goals on either side of the half. How did the players feature tonight?
Starting Lineup (left to right): Slonina; M. Navarro, Czichos, Omsberg, Sekulić; Pineda (F. Navarro 73’), Giménez; Herbers (Bornstein 73’), Shaqiri, Ivanov (Gutiérrez 63’); Przybyłko
Gaga Slonina (6) — It wasn’t the best performance for Gaga, but it wasn’t his busiest either. He only faced two shots, making a simple save late in the game to keep the score at 3-1. His distribution still needs improvement, but he’s still only 17 and there’s plenty of time for that aspect of his game to develop. There’s not a lot that he could have done better to prevent Roger Espinoza’s second-half goal for SKC.
Miguel Ángel Navarro (7.5) — Navarro is one of numerous players who has taken a big step forward this season. Playing in a very advanced role as an attacking full back, Navarro made an impact both in the attack and on defense.
Rafael Czichos (7.5) — The addition of the German center back to the Fire’s defense has dramatically strengthened and stabilized the team from the back. Czichos was brought in to be a ball-playing center back, and he has been excellent in that role; he completed 48 passes, more than any other player. His presence as captain has also been a huge boost for the locker room on and off the field.
Wyatt Omsberg (7.5) — After a fourth successive strong performance, it's safe to say that Wyatt Omsberg has made the starting right center back spot his own. Though he wasn’t quite as involved as he was in his MLS Team of the Week worthy showing last week, there’s not much to complain about. Carlos Teran will have to fight to earn his spot back when he returns to fitness.
Boris Sekulić (7) — Like Navarro on the opposite side, Sekulić has been playing as an advanced full-back and has been thriving in that role. His crossing is a great asset for this team, and his ability to drift into the midfield and combine is also useful. He completed 69% of his passes.
Gaston Giménez (8) — Giménez playing in a hybrid 6/8 role has been a joy to watch this season on both sides of the ball. It’s an exciting shift from his disappointing first two years in Chicago, where he didn’t have the luxury of playing next to a more defensively minded partner in midfield. Gaston completed 44 passes, won 4 duels, and set the tempo in another great 90-minute performance.
Mauricio Pineda (7.5) — Even with Fede Navarro back to fitness, Pineda has continued to earn the starting spot. Growing into his role as a #6, Pineda is emerging as a reliable option to partner Giménez. Pineda helped out on defense, and contributed in the attack as well, all while completing 88% of his passes.
Fabian Herbers (8) — Herbers had his best game in a while, showcasing his high work rate both in the attack and helping out on defense. He was effective at progressing the ball forward and did good work in the final third to get the assist for Kacper Przybyłko’s first goal in the 30th minute. Even if there is competition breathing down his neck, Herbers is proving to be a reliable option in a number of attacking positions.
Xherdan Shaqiri (8.5) — After some nice small moments in the first three matches, Shaqiri was finally able to put it all together in the final third against SKC. The Swiss superstar had the “hockey assist” on both the first and the third goals, finding Herbers and Gutiérrez respectively to create both huge chances. Those two weren’t the only occasions where he created opportunities in the attack, and his ability in tight spaces is just one aspect of his world-class talent on the ball shining through. Shaqiri calmly converted his second-half penalty to cap off a “Player of the Week”-worthy performance.
Stanislav Ivanov (6.5) — Ivanov had a rough outing after scoring his first MLS goal last week against DC. Still, he had a few nice passes and created some looks in the first half. He only had 32 touches, before he was substituted in the 63rd minute.
Kacper Przybyłko (8.5) — Welcome to Chicago, Kacper Przybyłko. The Polish striker finally got on the scoresheet, finding the back of the net twice in an all-around strong performance. Tim Melia could have done better on both goals, but Przybylko was able to get himself into much better positions to score.
Brian Gutiérrez (8) — Gutiérrez was subbed on in precisely the 63rd for the third successive game, and he made the impact that Ezra Hendrickson would have hoped. The homegrown notched his second career MLS assist in the closing minutes of the game, making an inch-perfect cross to Przybyłko following a very nice dribble which saw him isolate Rémi Walter. Gutiérrez will travel to Argentina this week to play with the U.S. U-20 National Team, where he will hope to continue his good form in friendlies against Argentina and River Plate.
Jonathan Bornstein (6.5) — Bornstein came in for a cameo on the left wing again, and helped close out the win. He’s reinvented himself as a versatile option for numerous positions and is a key piece for a Fire team lacking depth.
Fede Navarro (6.5) — Fede didn’t do too much after coming in, but he completed 75% of his passes and was otherwise defensively solid. He’ll have to fight to earn his spot back from Mauricio Pineda.
Ezra Hendrickson (8) — If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; Ezra followed the same blueprint from last week’s win in DC, running the same lineup and substitutes, and it resulted in another convincing win. There’s a different vibe around this Fire team; the players are playing with smiles on their faces, and that has led to points, and the environment created by the head coach is a big part of that.