The contest had some highlights, like a few chances and a goal called back following a VAR review, but that was it really. Neither side really impressed, and they each had to settle for a point as a result.
All in all, it kind of felt like a waste of 90 minutes.
Story of the match
Orlando’s high press really rustled the Chicago backline early on, which led to them giving the ball away a few times. Fortunately for the hosts, the opposition wasn’t able to make the most of the early opportunities.
The Fire arguably should have been given a penalty kick near the 10 minute mark. A clearance from Rodrigo Schlegel got rid of the ball, but it also led to him wiping out Fabian Herbers in the process. It didn’t quite look right, but the referee didn’t point to the spot, and there wasn’t a VAR review to change things, so nothing was awarded.
The first real highlight came in the 17th minute. Orlando seemingly cleared away a corner, but the ball ended up falling to the feet of Stanislav Ivanov. He took a touch before unleashing a shot, but his effort was tipped over the bar by Pedro Gallese.
Things just kind of came and went for the rest of the first half. Chicago controlled proceedings, but they failed to create any clear cut chances. Orlando, for a lack of a better term, absolutely sucked following their hot start, so they didn’t do anything either.
The second half was more of the same early on. The away side were the ones that had more of the ball, but they didn’t accomplish much with it.
That was until the 72nd minute, at least. The Fire just couldn’t get rid of the ball, and Orlando did well to pass it around to create an opening. It eventually fell to Júnior Urso on the edge of the area, and he made solid contact on a strike that took a major deflection before rolling into the back of the net. However, the goal would not stand following a lengthy VAR review since a handball was called on Ercan Kara in the buildup.
Chicago then had a great chance of their own, as Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross picked out Kacper Przybyłko in a dangerous area. He made a mess of the finish, though, heading the ball off of a defender, which allowed it to sail comfortably into the arms of the goalkeeper.
There was nearly a late winner, and it came via another Shaqiri cross. This one flew right to Brian Gutiérrez, but he couldn’t keep his header on frame.
The atmosphere at Soldier Field was quite impressive, not going to lie. There was a good amount of people in attendance, and those spectators did a good job of making noise throughout. Now, we don’t know just how many tickets were given away by the club, but if Chicago can keep this crowd up then they’ll have a decent home-field advantage this season.
Ezra Hendrickson deserves praise for his outfit. The button-up shirt and tan coat was a quality look, and the scarf was a lovely touch.
Xherdan Shaqiri, in terms of technical ability, was clear of everyone else that was on the pitch. He’s just better on the ball, whether he’s dribbling around or picking out a teammate with a pass. Everyone knew how talented he was before he came in, but this performance really proved that. Whether he can turn that into goal contributions remains to be seen, but it’s a good sign for the future.
I know it’s still early, but neither of these teams looked good. Chicago showed promise in possession, but they just didn’t do anything in the final third. Orlando, meanwhile, seemed lost for most of the contest, and they only played well in spurts. Things can obviously change, but this contest wasn’t an ideal look for either.
Man of the match - Xherdan Shaqiri
As mentioned earlier, Xherdan Shaqiri was just a bit better than everyone else.
He had a number of wonderful moments on the ball, either skilling past defenders or flicking the ball cleverly to teammates. Unfortunately he couldn’t do much in the final third, but he did create two big chances late on that weren’t finished.
It wasn’t quite a masterclass, but it was a strong showing nonetheless from Shaqiri. For the Fire’s sake, long may it continue.