Note: Players are ranked from best to worst (XI being best, I being wo..." /> Player Rankings: Chicago Fire vs Real Salt Lake - Fire On Ice Soccer

Opinion

Published on March 13th, 2017 | by Ryan Voyles

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Player Rankings: Chicago Fire vs Real Salt Lake

Note: Players are ranked from best to worst (XI being best, I being worst). Substitutes are not ranked unless they play as many or more minutes than the player they replaced.

It’s a pleasant change of pace to do a player ranking when there are a number of contenders for the Fire’s man of the match. With a 2-0 victory at chilly Toyota Park, the Fire made fairly quick work of Real Salt Lake. Whether it was the offensive fireworks the Fire set off in the first half, or their second half defensive stand that prevented RSL from truly getting a good look at goal despite controlling possession, the Fire looked like a team that could win the games one needs to when playoff aspirations are on the mind.

XI: Dax McCarty – Through two games and already McCarty has been a difference maker for the Fire’s midfield. Helped set up the first goal of the game and nearly set up another one if not for a great effort from goalkeeper Nick Rimando. McCarty showed he’s capable of leading the offensive charge as well as being a calming presence when needed to assist on the defensive side.

X: Johan Kappelhof – One of the main reasons RSL’s second half offensive surge came up empty-handed was because the Dutch defender put in the dirty work on Saturday. His double-digit clearances were key in helping Jorge Bava and the Fire keep a clean sheet.

IX: Juninho – The other off-season addition to the midfield did not disappoint in his debut. Juninho showed himself capable of setting up chances, as a late free kick forced Rimando to make another nice save on the day. His partnership with McCarty could possibly give the Fire one of the best midfield pairings in the league.

VIII: Brandon Vincent – A high energy performance from the youngster, though he’ll be kicking himself for missing his chance at a first career goal late in the game – sailing a shot a foot or so above the top-left corner of goal. Saturday was a bit of a hit-or-miss day for Vincent, but his defensive work helped the Fire notch their first shutout of season.

VII: Joao Miera – Along with Kappelhof, Miera put himself in positions that prevented RSL from getting any clear looks at goal. The center back pairing has looked good so far on the young season.

VI: Arturo Alvarez – A consistent thorn in the side of RSL defenders, Alvarez was a pest until getting subbed off in the 70th minute. His one-man offensive charge in the 16th minute resulted in a deflected shot that went past Rimando and put the Fire ahead 2-0.

V: Nemanja Nikolic – Made the most of his opportunities, even though they dwindled as the game went on. Scored his first regular season goal with the Fire after every RSL player thought he was offside, and only a fingertip save from Rimando prevented the Hungarian from notching his first brace with the club.

IV: Jorge Bava – Uneventful game for the Uruguayan, as RSL only mustered one ineffective shot on goal. Did a better job controlling box and grabbing balls out of the air, and he looked better the few times he needed to distribute the ball.

III: David Accam – A rare quiet offensive game for Accam, as he did not record a single shot on goal. Had a few nice plays on the counter, but none truly memorable or too challenging for RSL. Spent most of second half helping the defense contain the RSL onslaught.

II: Michael De Leeuw – Put in the work defensively, but still has not found consistency as the ‘turnkey’ for the Fire’s offense. Did not see much meaningful possession and even when he did, de Leeuw struggled to link up to the other offensive playmakers.

I: Michael Harrington – Despite ranking last, Harrington had a fairly inoffensive game on Saturday. His passing still was poor, but he did not make any egregious mistakes, which is a win for him.

Subs

Luis Solignac- Replaced Alvarez in the 70th minute.

Brandt Bronico – Replaced Nikolic in the 85th minute

Djordje Mihailovic – Replaced De Leeuw near the end of stoppage time

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