Chicago Fire 3, Sporting Kansas City 1.


The early-season success continues for the men in red (navy). Over the weekend they marched to an important win against Sporting Kansas City, a team that was one of the best in the league last year. Despite it being a rainy night on the lakefront, the Fire played an exciting game of soccer. Going into the match, we knew that the result would be a good indicator of where the team is at, and they did not disappoint. The match told us a lot about the state of the team. Shaqiri scored and was instrumental in the build-up to the other two goals. Kacper Przybylko finally broke the duck netting two goals, both of which were very nicely taken. For strikers, this first goal is crucial and they usually kick on from the confidence they get from getting off the mark. Three points right before we head into an international break is also really good for confidence, both for the players and for the fans who can rest easy for two weeks knowing their team is sitting pretty. Here’s what I felt was the key takeaway from the match. But first, the player ratings:

G. Slonina // 8

B. Sekulic // 7

W. Omsberg // 7

R. Czichos // 9

M. Navarro // 8

M. Pineda // 7

F. Navarro (sub) // 6

G. Gimenez // 8

S. Ivanov // 7

J. Bornstein (sub) // 6

X. Shaqiri // 8

F. Herbers // 6

B. Gutierrez (sub) // 7

K. Przybylko // 9


Biggest takeaway from the match: Key off-season acquisitions finally get off the mark

Going into the match, I’m sure many fans were worried about the fact that their two new attackers had not found the net yet. But, that has now been remedied. Kacper Przybylko got off the mark with two sweetly taken goals (maybe the first one Kansas goalkeeper Tim Melia could’ve done better with), and Xherdan Shaqiri put away a penalty to open his Fire account. For Kacper Przybylko these two goals could be crucial to building his confidence and for him to get into a rhythm where he is scoring regularly. Strikers, obviously, need goals. And for many strikers, when it rains it pours. Hopefully, Przybylko’s goals start pouring in. Shaqiri has played an instrumental role in every goal the Fire has scored this season, and it is good to see that he finally has a direct goal contribution, even if it is a penalty goal. A penalty or not, a goal for our new DP should also build his confidence to kick on. Przybylko and Shaqiri, with all due respect to Rafael Czichos, were our two biggest signings in the off-season. We’re depending on them to supply the goals this season, both creating and finishing them. Przybylko is a very smart striker. His movement in the box is immense and he gets into the right positions at the right moments. This movement allowed Herbers to register an assist, which could prove beneficial to him as he has been one of the strugglers this season. And Przybylko’s intelligence in reading the movement of the ball gave youngster Brian Gutierrez an assist even though the ball in wasn’t exceptional. As already mentioned, Shaqiri played a key role in both of these goals. It was his interception and subsequent pass to Herbers that started the move for the first goal, and it was his pass to Gutierrez that broke the lines and sent him on his way to assist Przybylko for the third goal. Shaqiri’s direct goal contributions number is only at one (the penalty in this match), but none of the five goals the Fire have scored this year would’ve happened without him.

It’s clear to see that the rest of the team is starting to gel with these two front men as the focal points of this team. Gaston Gimenez had his best performance of the season so far, a real DP’s performance, and his relationship with Shaqiri is clear to see. Gimenez was the one that committed the tackle that won the ball back and put it into Shaqiri’s feet in the lead up to the third goal, and the two players have clearly been learning each other’s game and are starting to build good chemistry. As for Przybylko, it is good to see that the creative midfielders behind him are starting to figure out exactly how he wants to receive the ball, and they’re beginning to see the runs he can make. It’s not surprising to see that both of these two players are finding their form. We know what to expect from both of them because of Shaqiri’s exploits abroad and Przybylko’s success in our league, and it’s looking like they’ll both have success and contribute to a successful season for the Fire.

Getting off the mark is important for attacking players, so it’s good that they both managed to do that against a good team like Sporting Kansas City. A 3-1 win against one of the best teams in MLS last year is a very positive sign. We were far better than them on the night, and many of our players had their best game of the season. A Brimstone Cup win in two weeks against FC Dallas will add to the air of enthusiasm around the club. If they can seal the three points there, the Fire is well and truly on its way to a true playoff push.

Featured Image: Chicago Fire/Twitter
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