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OaM Player Ratings: Chicago Fire

The staff of Once A Metro gives their scores and thoughts on Gerhard Struber’s first managerial victory in MLS

MLS: Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports


Lenz Ong: Not really called upon much, but tidy distribution helped to beat the Chicago press, and was alert off his line throughout to sweep up danger. Nice to see him bag his first clean sheet.

Mike Battista: There were only five shots on net but I can’t not give him credit. The Brazilian made a handful of great saves to keep the clean sheet.


Ben Cork: Seemed to be constantly be getting picked on by Chicago for long switches despite Gutman constantly intercepting them. Another active and tone-setting wide performance, though his crossing was erratic.

J.J. Post: Though his first touch can be sloppy, Gutman put in another hard-working shift highlighting his tremendous physical gifts and clever ability to intervene on opposing passing moves.


Justin Sousa: Provided a creative outlet from deep with his long passes to help open Chicago’s defensive shape several times throughout the game.

Alexander Xenopoulos: One thing I have liked about Long this year is how hard he has been stepping out. We really did not see much of that under Armas.


J.J. Post: A little less polished than Long, Nealis still had a fine game on a day where the Red Bulls’ defense wasn’t called upon or threatened much.

Ben Cork: Noticeably slower and less clean on the ball compared to his partner Long, Nealis nonetheless didn’t put a foot wrong on the day.


Justin Sousa: Had more of presence offensively in the second half, and his tenacity to close down the Fire in their own half ultimately created the second goal.

J.J. Post: Duncan definitely came out with something to prove after returning to the starting lineup, providing plenty of hustle and ball skills. There were still moments where he was caught out of position, but he seemed to grow into the game as the Red Bulls’ became more and more in control in the second half.


J.J. Post: Probably the most consistent player so far this season, Davis put in another clean, quiet performance helping to dictate the pace in the center of the park for the Red Bulls.

Ben Cork: Was occasionally getting bypassed by Chicago attackers in the first half, but smart passing and calm organizational skills helped team navigate the chippy early stretches and then control second half.


Justin Sousa: The best and most complete performance by any Red Bull on the day. Defensively sound, protected the ball in possession, linked well in the wide channels and scored a well-taken second goal of the season.

Ben Cork: Scored the type of goal you want to see a number 8 score, but showed limits in the role when breaking out wide. Inability to go on long dribble runs or combine with subtlety continues to limit his contribution in build-up at shuttler role.


Alexander Xenopoulos: He has great feet and is quick. When he strikes the ball it is always square and hard. But he is not yet a player who will manage the run of play. What I will also say is surprising about him is that he is fearless. He never shies away from a tackle or getting stuck in.

J.J. Post: A karate kick goal that defies xG and a constant addition to the press makes for a Caden Clark performance that has more or less become the norm for the young Minnesotan.


Lenz Ong: Decent first start at the 10, showed some nice close control on the technical side. Mentally, shows flashes of quick decision making and reactions, which will serve him well in this system.

Justin Sousa: Some nice passes and ideas but was understandably behind at times in pressing with the front line.


J.J. Post: Everything seems to be there but the final touch for Barlow. It’s clear he fits the mold of what Struber wants in a striker, and his unique combination of speed and strength is clearly an asset that makes him a tough matchup for opposing defenders, but his production in the final third remains an isssue.

Mike Battista: Barlow might have Paul Walker hair but the dude isn’t playing fast or furiously. It’s just disappointing to see.

FABIO - 7.8

Justin Sousa: First goal still eludes him, but neither goal happens if Fabio isn’t making the runs he did in the penalty area to disrupt the Fire’s defense.

Lenz Ong: Grew into the game as it progressed, ended up bagging two assists. His pressing play to start the sequence for the first was especially tantalizing, can’t wait to see what he looks like if/when he’s fully adapted to the demands of Stuber’s system



J.J. Post: Yearwood didn’t play the role many perhaps expect him to play as a ball-winning number six, but he proved a skillful passing presence moving the ball forward and was a key cog in the Red Bull diamond once he was brought on.

Lenz Ong: Upped the tempo off the bench. Showed off his vision with some great passes, but also speed in decision making and in closing down attackers. Making a case to start once he’s fit for 90 minutes for sure.


Ben Cork: Didn’t end up getting the goal that would up his stock for a starting position (or a trade) but was a constant threat the back post while the Red Bulls played halfcourt late.


Alexander Xenopoulos: He was decent today and ran the channels pretty well when he was pressing.


Lenz Ong: Came close to bagging a third goal with a ferocious half volley, and was lively throughout his ten minute cameo. Alhamdulillah he plays more this season.


Ben Cork: Unlike last week, Struber didn’t overthink it and went with the diamond 4-4-2 that he himself remarked the players find more intuitive. Didn’t waver or change the plan after a fairly dodgy first half and built confidence in team to not only take the lead but keep on the front foot for the whole 90 minutes - a recurring problem not only in the first two matches of 2021 but in the last few seasons for the Red Bulls.

Mike Battista: He stuck with his backline after that chippy start and it paid off. Struber didn’t go crazy with changes and let things play out. Moving out both strikers who hadn’t scored and making two midfield swaps with the diamond formation worked out well to tire out Chicago.

Justin Sousa: Got the starting lineup right today, and each of his subs did a job to ensure the Red Bulls didn’t fall into a defensive shell for the last 30 minutes.

What were your scores for the New York Red Bulls this week? Sound off in the comments below...