Atlanta United 4 Fire 0 - recap and ratings

An eleventh minute red card set the tone for the match but the Fire didn't exactly cover themselves in glory through the first ten minutes of this match. Atlanta took an early lead in the 4th minute and Chicago seemed to be in complete "absorb and counter" mode even before Johan Kappelhof was sent off. Playing a man down for nearly eighty minutes resulted in some shockingly one-sided numbers. Atlanta won the possession battle 83-17. They completed 870 of 935 passes at a remarkable 93% clip, while the Fire completed just 117 of 192 at a woeful 61%. Atlanta centerback Leandro Gonzalez Pirez completed 129 0f 134 attempts alone.

This match was a test of how far along the Fire have come in their rebuilding process, and they were squarely punched in the mouth and dropped to a knee. Atlanta was clearly the better side and wasted no time in showing it. That doesn't mean Chicago won't compete this year, however. They will.

Despite all of the additions and this epic fail in Atlanta, it's just one game and they will be competitive enough to stay in the race for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. One loss on the road doesn't change that, but is does accentuate the Fire's glaring weaknesses in possession and ability to link from midfield to attack, right back, and a very shaky backline and goalkeeper.

There wasn't much to take out of this game after the red card. Atlanta may not be as good against a team that can exploit their defense, and the Fire aren't as bad as the scoreline indicates. Chalk it up and move on to a winnable match in two weeks at home against Montreal.

Player ratings

GK Jorge Bava (4) - Was lucky not to have allowed more than one goal in the first half. Slow and unsure for most of the first 45. Did manage three relatively easy saves in between getting rounded like a traffic cone by Atlanta attackers.

D Michael Harrington (3) - A ridiculously sloppy throw-in led directly to the red card. A lack of pressure on the ball from the right side on Atlanta's last two scores led directly to goals. A 57% passing completion ratio was even lower than the team's miserable overall number.

D Johan Kappelhof (4) - Some might argue that the red card was harsh but grabbing a player from behind by the shoulder while rushing for a pass in front of the 'keeper is a sure way to earn a red card.

D Joao Meira (4) - Sucked out of position on the first goal and caught in between several other times. Competed a sterling 14 of 16 pass attempts. Beaten on the fourth goal.

D Brandon Vincent (4) - Deflected Gressel's shot in the 4th minute leading to the own goal that set the tone. Lost a mark in the 82nd leading to the final goal.

M Dax McCarty (4) - The Fire's newly revamped central midfield pairing didn't stand a chance against Atlanta. They were simply overrun and could do nothing about it. McCarty completed 65% of his passes and was involved in the team breakdown leading to the first goal.

M Juninho (4) - Only 21 pass attempts from the position that currently serves as the Fire's link to the attack from the center of the pitch.

M Arturo Alvarez (5) - Removed in the 15th minute as a tactical change after the red card, before the full onslaught took place. Managed a shot on goal in the 7th.

M David Accam (5) - Managed to get a good shot on target in the 69th following a Harrington cross. Drew a yellow card on Almiron in the 45h.

F Luis Solignac (4) - Moved out wide after the red card. Nothing in attack but did try to help defensively.

F Nemanja Nikolic (4.5) - Looking at his heat map, he spent most of the match toiling in the middle of the pitch. There's not much a striker can do without service.

D Jonathan Campbell (4) - Replaced Alvarez in the 15th. Kept Martinez onside for the second goal by playing too deep while the rest of the back line stepped up. Cleared a ball right to Villalba for the third goal.

M Brandt Bronico (4) - Entered the match for Solignac in the 66th. No impact. Completed 1 of 2 passes.

M Drew Conner (4) - Subbed in for Nikolic in the 79th. Completed 2 of 3 passes.



Filed under: 2017 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • "That doesn't mean Chicago won't complete this year, however."

    Hey G! Didn't you mean to say "compete?"

  • In reply to Arklow:


  • What struck me before the game even started was the lack of depth on the bench. There was Campbell and that was it.with de leeuw, goosens and poster all injured, there was no good substitutions available. This team needs to get healthy fast and fill out the roster with good bench players.

  • This was just a horrible situation to be in. We should be playing a 3-5-2, with Meira Campbell and Kappelhoff as 3 CB's and Accam and Alvarez as Wingbacks and MDL and Niko up top. This allows us to play our best players and not play Man Bun. If we sign Schweinsteiger the MF would be Jun, BS and Dax and alternate between Polster and Alvarez as Wingbacks. If we don't sign BS I would put Polster in CM. Everything Ive read about this formation screams the 2017 Fire. Only drawback is that it's more complicated and probably would take some getting used to. But I still think were better off than starting Harrington every week.

  • In reply to john:

    What about Vincent? OG this week aside, he's been a bright spot for much of his short time with the Fire.

  • Guys I have noticed quite a drop off of folks participating in the pod cast. That's too bad Guillermo is about the only reliable source of info about the fire in Chicago. About the game it was one of the single worst coached games that I have seen in my 55 years of watching soccer. Yes being a player down is terrible and most red card games are give aways but the way the team played exhibited a team had thrown in the towel. Yes they probably should play a little better in the future but this coach and this general manager should be replaced as soon as oissible. The race for the Fire this season will be with Minnesota for the bottom spot in the league.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    The podcast scheduling is really up to Jeff and me finding the time to record more frequently.

    We'll get to a regular schedule eventually.

  • fb_avatar

    It's always been obvious we're still going to need a #10 player like Nowak, Blanco, Grazzini to link up between the Juninho/Dax position and the forwards and wingers. Even MLS-Cup finalist Toronto realized they needed that and got Victor Vazquez. Nikolic and De leeuw are not that; and Schweini ain't either.

  • In reply to Alex Michalakos:

    I agree. I would not spend dollars on BS. He is a great player, but I would so much rather have Nicol√°s Lodeiro or someone like him. The next game cannot come soon enough.

  • I would not be surprised to see the final standings look like the current one:
    Eastern Conference
    6 Atlanta United 2-1-0 11/3
    6 Orlando City 2-0-0 3/1
    6 NY Red Bulls 2-1-0 4/4
    5 Toronto FC 1-0-2 4/2
    4 New York City FC 1-1-1 5/2
    4 Columbus 1-1-1 4/4
    4 Chicago 1-1-1 3/5
    2 Philadelphia 0-1-2 3/4
    2 Montreal 0-1-2 3/4
    1 D.C. United 0-2-1 0/6
    0 New England 0-2-0 1/3

    But I'm still hoping that we'll be above the line, not below it.

  • In reply to Fuegofan:

    Its way to early to say who ends up where. Teams at the top now seem to go into slumps in the middle of the season, and sometimes teams at the bottom figure it out or add a key piece during summer that changes everything. As impressive as Atlanta looks, remember that their two wins are against a 10 man fire (Who has played horribly on the road for years) and a MNUFC who hasn't figured out what their doing yet (In a frigid snowball fight none the less). Neither of these games indicate that they will be able to continue at the pace they are going. They will most likely regress to the mean as teams figure out how to defend against them. What the "mean" for them is, I have no idea. But don't assume that ATL, Orlando and NYRB will be your top 3 at the end of the season.

    As for us and which side of the line we end up on.... In my mind it depends on how we handle depth. 3 weeks in and we have De Leeuw, Goosens, and Polster on the injury list. Kappelhof now has a red card, so he'll be out next game. that puts Campbell starting next game. This leaves us with a bunch of "Unknown" rookies and Players that haven't been getting playing time on the bench. If we can't get a decent bench together, we will be chasing the wooden spoon again with MNUFC this year.

  • In reply to edubs:

    The Fire won't be in wooden spoon contention this year.

    Orlando and Columbus are prime candidates for the 6th place battle.

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