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.
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.