In a hard-fought match between the two sides, the Fire fell behind after conceding a pair of penalty kicks in the third minute of first half stoppage time and in the 70th minute. Nashville midfielder Hany Mukhtar converted both spot kicks to put the home side up 2-0, before adding a third goal in the second minute of second half stoppage time. After the match, Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson and team captain defender Rafael Czichos offered their thoughts on the result. Read their quotes below.
Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson
On Rafael Czichos, the thought process behind the lineup and Chris Mueller not traveling with the team…
“Rafa, we are not sure what is going to happen there. We have to check him tomorrow and get a better idea of what that is as far as Tuesday, his availability for Tuesday. Chris had an injury and he couldn't make it tonight, so that's why he didn't come.
As far as the lineup, the changes, with two games in three days like this, we wanted to make some changes, rest some guys. You know, we have been running some guys out a lot of minutes throughout the year, and we wanted to give them some rest. You know, Guti had a little tightness in his groin. Souquet is an older player that we felt needed some rest tonight.
Same thing with Kei; a 38-year-old guy, to play tonight and then have to come out again and have to play two days later, we felt that would affect him. But you have a squad, you know, and it doesn't matter who is on the pitch. We have to go out and play the way that we have been playing this year.
Tonight we don't show that. We didn't show up. I have to take the blame on that, because when your team don't show up and when you're a team that's based on possession, lost possession so many times in such easy situations, just unforced errors, and then the way we played, we opened up when we have the ball, and when we lose it like that, just our rest defense was not there, and so we got countered on and we just couldn't catch up to guys.
The changes were just based on, you know, having three games in two days, and trying to make sure that we have some fresh legs and we have guys available for both games. But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter who is on the pitch. That was not indicative of our football and what we have been doing here, and that falls on me.
I have to give the guys, even the ones who have not been playing much, I have to make sure they are ready to play when they step on the pitch.”
On if pressure is growing within the group to get results…
“Well, yeah, there's always pressure. In this sport there's pressure. In my position, there's pressure. There's always going to be pressure. But we can't worry about the pressure. We have to go out and play football and believe in what it is that we are doing.
The nine games before this, we played some very good football at times, and we need to just have confidence, (be) courageous, remember those things and continue to do those things and then shore up some things that we were not very good at like set pieces. We have to remain confident.
Like I told the guys tonight, every year, there's always one game that you just couldn't get a hold of anything. You know, tonight we just couldn't get a hold of a game, and they capitalized on every mistake that we made.
So it’s a quick turnaround. We have to shake it off and get ready to play again on Tuesday.”
On the reasons the Fire struggled to be dangerous in the attacking third…
“Well, it's a combination of both. It's a very good team and they are a very good team at home, and if you come here and you turn the ball over as much as we did, you're going to pay for it because they are a very good counter attacking team, and so they did that a lot to us tonight.
We were on the back foot from the start of the game. Even when we got into the final third and we had a couple of crosses, (they) just kind of went across the face of the goal. We didn't connect on (those crosses) and they picked it up and they were off to the races on the other end. We got counterattacked a lot tonight, and that stems from us not keeping the ball, not possessing the ball like we normally do.
I don't know the exact percentage as far as possession but it wasn't much. There (were) a lot of unforced errors, a lot of turnovers that you don't normally see from us, and tonight we paid. Every time we turned the ball over, we paid. They went on the other end and either got a corner out of it, or they got a PK or they got a goal. We have to get better at that.
But the main thing for us is to shake it off, and know that that's not Fire football and know that's not the way we've been playing all year because that's not indicative of what's been happening with us for the previous nine games.
So we have to get back to playing like that for Tuesday. It's a quick turnaround. We have no time to sulk or be depressed. We've got to just turn around, shake it off and be ready to play on Tuesday.”
On how to motivate the team for Tuesday and plans for the lineup…
“We'll put the strongest lineup we have available, barring injury and fatigue. We'll get a team out there that's the strongest that we have available. Sometimes that might not be the 11 best players. It might be the 11 best cohesion; the 11 best cohesive players because that's what it's going to take.
This is a Cup game. This is something we talked to them about at the beginning of this tournament, that this is a way for us to reconnect with our fans and get our fans back behind us. You know, because for too long now, they have nothing to show for their support for us, and winning a trophy is something that can do that. It would go a long way of doing that.
So we want to make sure that we put the best team that we have available out there on the pitch on Tuesday, and so we can continue in that tournament.
And then we get ready for St. Louis again on the weekend, because the games are coming, and we don't really have time to relax or to sulk on what transpired tonight. We have to go out and make sure that we have the strongest team possible on the pitch on Tuesday, so we can do a better showing than we did tonight.”
Chicago Fire FC Defender Rafael Czichos
On why he was forced to come out of the match in the first half…
“I hope so. That was the reason I went out so early. I felt kind of tightness in the muscle, and yeah, I didn't want to make it worse. So that was the reason I gave the sign for substitution.”
On how the leaders on the team can help to turn the group around…
“Yeah, first of all, we have to forget this evening as fast as possible. Today, we are allowed to be frustrated, but from tomorrow on, we have to keep our heads up and (we) have to focus on Tuesday. It's going to be a very important game. Everyone knows it in our team, and everyone will focus on it from tomorrow on.
So I think that we know that we have been showing way better performances than today. Yeah, of course, today was like from the beginning, one of our worst games so far. But we know that we are able to play better, and that's what we want to show on Tuesday.”
On the mood in the locker room after the match…
“Yeah, it's very silent. Like I said, everyone is disappointed about the performance today. But like I said before, we have a game in three days already, so there's no time to keep being frustrated, and yeah, that's what we are focusing on on Tuesday, and I think the coaches will prepare us for St. Louis and then we want to show a completely different performance.”
On the importance of the Open Cup to the Club…
“Yeah, everyone knows that the Club has a very good history in the Open Cup, and it's a very important competition for us. We want to win it. It's only like five more games I think. So it's a good chance to bring a title home and to qualify for the Concacaf. That's what we want and what we are working for.”