Published on April 24th, 2017 | by Jeff Engelhardt0
Player Rankings: Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire
Time heals all wounds.
Saturday’s match didn’t go the way any Chicago Fire fan wanted it to, losing 3-1 in convincing fashion to a team that is simply better when it is clicking on all cylinders. Initial reaction was fierce, because well, the Fire had looked good coming in to the game. Many expected a draw, some dreamed of a win, but reality hit.
But after taking a couple days to absorb the result, I think most realize the result is not that dire. That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement for the Men in Red, because there certainly is. But it was not a “time to panic” kind of loss by any stretch.
Sebastian Giovinco was simply brilliant, and when he is, he is nearly impossible to stop for any team. Jozy Altidore played great and is also a handful for even the best defenders when at his best.
It was the midfield that was the surprise of the night. While not atrocious by any means, the Holy Trinity just never found the second gear. Dax McCarty, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Juninho were outplayed by Victor Vazquez, Michael Bradley and semi-surprise starter Marky Delgado, who I thought had a very strong outing.
Those things can happen when you go to a tough environment like Toronto and it is Schweinsteiger’s first taste of like on an MLS road trip.
The real takeaway from this game will be how the team responds Saturday. Will they be outplayed for a full 90 minutes and lose by multiple goals again? Or will they show a strong effort, the ability to adjust and bounce back and pull a result?
Fire teams of the past have been weighed down by the burden of a loss in the past, but I believe this team has a different mental makeup. They will get a chance to prove it Saturday.
Until then, keep the hope and let’s get to the player rankings!
XI: Luis Solignac – Look, it’s my rankings. I don’t know if he technically was the best player Friday, but there was something about his performances lately that oozes positive energy. And he had the assist on the goal, which counts for something on a night you lose 3-1.
X: David Accam – Again, a bit unusual as I normally don’t rank substitutes but he had a key moment so he gets in. There was a brief injection of life when Accam came on in the 61st minute and he finally scored in the 88th. That’s a goal and assist in consecutive weeks as a sub. His hip looks good.
IX: Dax McCarty – I know I said the Holy Trinity was outplayed, and they were, but Dax was the best of them. He had about a million successful passes, six recoveries, three interceptions and two tackles. He also drew four fouls and committed none while putting a shot just off target. He did his part.
VIII: Juninho – Again, the individually good, but not enough as a group. Very active passing in the midfield and had pretty good service on the four corner kicks. His free kick service was destined to be a goal, but Nemanja Nikolic was offside. Added five recoveries, four interceptions and two tackles. Drew three fouls and committed none. Not enough forward passing.
VII: Joao Meira – Another great night of passing, though most of it went nowhere. Two clearances on a night when the team only had five, but not much else. Not very helpful on the corner kick that Eriq Zavaleta scored.
VI: Bastian Schweinsteiger – His least impressive game in a Fire uniform. His passing still showed some of that top-notch quality, but he wasn’t as active on either side of the ball. Committed two fouls and looked frustrated most of the match. Not bad, just not to his standard.
V: Brandon Vincent – Not much from the sophomore left back, but not much that stood out as bad either. Got beat on the jump ball by Eriq Zavaleta for Toronto’s second goal.
IV: Johan Kappelhof – Three tackles, two interceptions, two blocked shots, a clearance, a recovery and good passing, mostly on the Daniel Johnson attempt that could’ve been a goal. All of that is great. But he got split alongside Michael Harrington on the Giovinco goal and committed the foul that led to the free kick goal. Active part in two goals will sink you. Not too worried moving forward though.
III: Jorge Bava – Made a number of good saves, but just as much questionable decisions. Still seems jittery almost all of the time and you wonder if anything could have been done especially on the first goal and to a certain extent on the second goal.
II: Nemanja Nikolic – Only two shots and none on target. Offsides three times and only played 70 minutes. It was an invisible effort from a guy who had been red hot the last two games. Looked to have tweaked a leg muscle early though, so I’m not too concerned. But it was a no-show on Friday.
I: Michael Harrington – He got beat on the first goal of the game and ultimately all three goals ended coming from his side. He still added three tackles, two interceptions and two recoveries and had a pass that led to a shot, but he was mucho bad. Initially I put had him and Kappelhof because I get tired of putting Harrington at the bottom, but it felt wrong, so he is back here again.