The Chicago Fire remain unbeaten in MLS following another 0-0 draw, this time in their home opener against Orlando City. The Fire lacked productivity in the final third, and after surviving a VAR scare, held on to secure a point in front of over 25 thousand fans.
Starting Lineup (left to right): Slonina; M. Navarro, Czichos, Omsberg, Sekulić; Giménez, Pineda; Herbers (Gutiérrez 63’), Shaqiri, Ivanov (Duran 78’); Przybyłko
Gaga Slonina (7) — Truthfully, Slonina didn’t have a lot to do tonight. He had one world-class save late in the second half (which even got Fabrizio Romano talking), but the assistant referee’s flag went up thus ruling it irrelevant. Nonetheless, it's another clean sheet for the 17-year-old who continues to progress at an astonishing rate.
Miguel Ángel Navarro (6.5) — Navarro had a few good moments connecting with the midfield as an attacking full-back. However, he had two silly giveaways near his own penalty box which Orlando failed to capitalize on. Despite that, he has certainly improved over the last couple months and has made the left-back position his own.
Rafael Czichos (7) — The addition of Czichos to this Fire team has dramatically improved the backline, and added stability that has not been there the past two seasons. Czichos had 2 tackles and completed 80% of his passes in a second consecutive solid performance. The blip on his performance was the fact that it was his failed headed clearance that directly led to Orlando’s goal (which was later disallowed by VAR).
Wyatt Omsberg (7.5) — Despite coming into the season as far from a first-choice option, Omsberg had one of his best performances for the Fire. He won four tackles and cleared a cross late in the game which likely would have resulted in a goalscoring opportunity for Orlando. Omsberg is another player who has improved since last season and showed that he can be a serviceable option at center back when the starters are unavailable.
Boris Sekulić (6.5) — Like Navarro, Sekulić played a very attacking role from full-back, often finding himself in the final third. His delivery was good, but the forwards were unable to capitalize. Junior Urso’s shot, which seemed like it would have been Orlando’s go-ahead goal, took a heavy deflection off of Sekulić, and it may have even gone down as an own goal had the goals stood. The right back also picked up a yellow card late in the game.
Gaston Giménez (7.5) — Though Giménez has improved the defensive side of his game, he has continued to be ineffective in the final third. He had three shots, but none actually threatened the goalkeeper. Giménez has looked good playing in a double pivot with Mauricio Pineda in the first two games, but he should have the opportunity to take his game to the next level when he will be paired with Fede Navarro upon his return from injury.
Mauricio Pineda (6.5) — Pineda has not been at his best so far this season. He’s been filling in in central midfield, which is not his best position, but he has been an adequate backup there. Completing 83% of his passes, Pineda had a decent game with the ball at his feet. When the aforementioned Navarro returns, Pineda will have the chance to move back to center back.
Fabian Herbers (6) — Herbers had a rough night. One could argue he was lucky to only get a yellow for a very lazy tackle on Facundo Torres in the 12th minute, and he had his only shot of the game saved. He was substituted by the hour mark for Brian Gutiérrez.
Xherdan Shaqiri (7) — Over the course of the first two games, Shaqiri has showcased his terrific ability on the ball which is unparalleled in Major League Soccer. He hasn’t been able to turn that into offensive production, though, as he struggled to create in the final third in his Soldier Field debut. Shaqiri was not afraid to take on defenders, sometimes dancing around opposition players for fun, and he dropped several dimes for his teammates. But his set-piece delivery was mostly sub-par, and his direct free-kick in the 54th minute went straight into the wall. If Shaqiri can move his creativity into the final third, he will certainly prove to be a problem for opposition goalkeepers.
Stanislav Ivanov (6) — Ivanov has gotten better since last season, but that isn’t saying much. Much like his teammates, he couldn’t get anything done in the final third. The best moment of his second consecutive start was a looping shot from outside the box in the first half, which forced Pedro Gallese to make a save, but it never really threatened the Peruvian number one.
Kacper Przybyłko (5) — Przybyłko has been somewhat underwhelming since joining the Fire from Philadelphia in the offseason. Despite often dropping quite deep in the midfield, he could never really get involved in the buildup and ended the game as the starter with the least touches (28). He had a header saved in the 85th minute, but that was his only look at goal in the game.
Brian Gutiérrez (6) — Gutiérrez could prove to be an excellent option off the bench for the Fire this season, and he showed a few flashes of what he can be in a 27-minute shift on Saturday. He got into a few good positions, and had a nice header blocked by Gallese in stoppage time.
Jhon Duran (5) — The Colombian has great potential, but in the first two games it has been evident that he is still very raw. He had one extremely ambitious shot from very far out which was blocked. He also received a needless yellow card mere seconds after entering the game; this was his second booking in as many games.
Ezra Hendrickson (7) — The Fire’s defense in 2022 has been much more solid, and it's safe to say that the arrival of Hendrickson is one part of that. He only went to the bench twice, but that also comes down to the fact that there weren’t too many options that would be able to make an impact on the game. All things considered, the Fire have been set up to succeed in the first two games, and once the goals start coming, the team will start winning.