The Chicago Fire were dumped out of the U.S. Open Cup by the USL League One champions, Union Omaha. A pair of penalties from Rafael Czichos gave the Fire the lead twice, but the visitors pulled it back both times and won in the shootout. There were some bright spots, but the Fire were, quite frankly, not very impressive.
Starting Lineup (left to right): Richey; A. Reynolds (M. Navarro 105+1’), Czichos*, Burks, Espinoza; Oregel (F. Navarro 90+1’), Casas; M. Rodríguez (Ivanov 90+1’), Gutiérrez, Offor (Przybyłko 90+1’); Duran (Bezerra 77’)
* - Carlos Terán was supposed to start but was injured in warmups and replaced by Czichos.
Spencer Richey (6) — Richey made his debut for the Fire, but it wouldn’t be a massive surprise if he doesn’t play again for the Fire. His performance wasn’t terrible — he made four saves and saved one penalty in the shootout — but he let two slip through his fingers that he should have saved. The stoppage-time equalizer at the end of extra time also could have been saved.
Andre Reynolds II (6) — In his first start for the Fire, Reynolds was very involved with 100 touches but couldn’t convert that into any production. He was substituted in the 105th minute after what was, albeit, one of his better performances for the Fire.
Rafael Czichos (8) — In what was a dismal performance from the Fire, you can’t complain about Czichos. He wasn’t supposed to start but came into the lineup when Carlos Terán was injured before kickoff and scored two penalties before converting his kick in the shootout.
Kendall Burks (6.5) — There’s not much to say about Burks’ Fire debut; his inexperience was apparent, and positioning was imperfect, but that is to be expected. He won’t be seeing the field in MLS anytime soon.
Jhon Espinoza (6) — Espinoza came into the role of an attacking full back, which suits him well. He scored his penalty and produced some crosses but mainly was ineffective throughout the 120 minutes.
Sergio Oregel Jr. (7.5) — One of the few bright spots for the Fire was the debut of Sergio Oregel. The 16-year-old went 90 minutes and took some time to grow into the game, but he looked confident on the ball once he was comfortable. Hopefully, this won’t be the last we see of Oregel this season, who is regarded as one of the top prospects at the club.
Javi Casas Jr. (6.5) — Casas got his first-ever start for the Fire and wasn’t very inspiring. The 18-year-old was a liability on defense and couldn’t create many chances. His passing was solid, though, as he completed 95% of his passes over 120+ minutes. Javi is a talented player, but he’s not yet ready for the first team.
Missael Rodríguez (6) — The 19-year-old striker made his pro debut, playing on the left wing. Over 90 minutes, he only touched the ball 33 times and only made 11 passes while missing some good opportunities. He created a chance right at the end of the 90 minutes, which his teammates would ultimately squander.
Brian Gutiérrez (8) — This was a horrible outcome for the Fire. but Brian Gutiérrez didn’t put a foot wrong and looked great in the #10 role. Sometimes, he drifted deeper and sat next to Oregel as an 8 in front of Casas. He won the penalty for Czichos’ second goal. On the ball, Guti looked confident and ready to take defenders on. Yes, it was USL League One quality defending, but he showed that he’s prepared to step up into a more prominent role with this team. It defies explanation why he didn’t take a penalty kick in the shootout, though, especially over the substitute left back Miguel Navarro.
Chinonso Offor (5.5) — Offor didn’t really do anything except win a couple of headers and have one shot blocked. He was substituted in the 91st minute after barely impacting the game, albeit in an unfamiliar position.
Jhon Duran (6.5) — Duran wasn’t too bad, but he needs to get into better positions to score. He is technically gifted but still has lots of work to do to be a success in MLS. He came off injured towards the end of the second half, with his most significant contribution coming when he drew the penalty for the first goal.
Victor Bezerra (5) — Bezerra is only able to salvage a “5” rating from his Fire debut because he converted his high-pressure penalty in the shootout. He came in in an attacking role, tasked with helping the Fire put away any chance they could get and find a winner. He was handed a golden opportunity on a platter to do that, and he missed.
Kacper Przybyłko (3) — These ratings have been pretty generous for the most part this season, and it should be difficult to get anything below 4.5 by design. At some point, though, the hammer has to come down on the 1.25 million-man Kacper Przybyłko. The trade seemed like a “can’t lose”: A proven MLS striker who doesn’t even take up a DP slot. But somehow, he’s been so ineffective it is actively hurting the team. He made no impact off the bench, and his penalty in the shootout hit the bar. The Fire should start eyeing up other options because this team needs goals, and Przybyłko is not providing them.
Fede Navarro (6.5) — Navarro was his usual self. Good defensively in the midfield. Not expected to provide a whole lot going forward. Not much to complain about.
Stanislav Ivanov (6) — Ivanov didn’t make much of an impact off the bench in extra time. He scored his penalty, though, which is worth something.
Miguel Ángel Navarro (4) — You can’t expect a positive rating when you miss the decisive penalty. Navarro was put in a tough spot; perhaps Ezra should have handed someone like Gutiérrez or even Fede Navarro the sixth kick, but he still missed. Navarro had 20 touches in his 15-minute cameo in extra time.
Ezra Hendrickson (4) — Say what you will about the performance, the individuals on the field, and the opportunities given to young players... the Chicago Fire is out of the U.S. Open Cup at the hands of a third division team. Omaha just wanted it more, and Ezra has to take responsibility. The test will now be if the team can have tunnel vision and immediately focus on the next game, a road game in Minnesota next week.