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Chicago Fire FC fell 2-0 to New York City FC on Sunday night at SeatGeek Stadium. After the match, Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson was joined by captain Rafael Czichos and midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri in offering their assessments of the performance. Read their thoughts in full below.

Chicago Fire FC Quotes

Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson

On the performance of the team...
"I wish I could give you an explanation but I don't have one because, as I just told them inside, that was very disappointing. That was by far our worst performance this year. And to give that type of performance at this time of the year, this crucial, critical time of the season, it's just not acceptable. You know, last week was last week but we needed to turn around; we know that we have to win our home games. And we talked about that. But tonight, it was just, we just didn't look the part from the start, from start to finish. In the end, we had to take Carlos out because he's just coming back from hamstring so we went into a formation that we never really played before. But even before then, you know, a poor goal to give up. And then second goal, three, four minutes into the second half like that, we can't do that. 

But beyond the goals, it's just the way we played both offensively and defensively. We talked at halftime about, we're just not connected on passes, we're not seeing passes, we're not playing forward, there's no movement off the ball. We just looked out of sorts tonight and I don't know. I mean, we have to learn how to play under pressure, there's a bit of pressure there, so maybe that has something to do with it. But you know, we have to remain confident, we have to remain with belief that this is still possible, everything is so close. So, I don't think we've given up confidence but we didn't show up as a team today. We didn't play the Chicago Fire football like we've showed at times this year. I mean, there are times we just would win it and give it away, every time in the first half, in the first 10, 15 minutes. 

So, there's really no explanation for that. But we just got to get better next week because it's no easier task coming up with Montreal. But it's us, you know, we have to play better than that. It just wasn't good enough. Even defensively; we were not tight to people, we didn't run with players. You know, it's inexcusable, unacceptable and that's something that we'll correct."

On the goals conceded...
"Well, I don't know who it was or what happened there, because it was a clearance and then three of our guys basically run past the ball and he was able to come and no one stepped up. We didn't step up to even, you know, put a little pressure on the shot. It was a good shot but still, if someone is putting pressure on that, maybe he doesn't hit it that cleanly. But it was a good goal. 

But the second goal was just, we can't give that up. You know, we have a ball to play forward, to at least clear. We’re at the top of the box, and we decided to go deep in our box. And now Rafa has to try to dribble out of pressure which, then we give that up. It's just not good enough. When things like this happen, when games like this happen, as a coach, I have to take the blame because it seems that they weren't ready to play. They weren't ready to face the pressure at hand and that's something that I got to make sure that those guys go out there and play with a clear mind and play without fear and be more confident. You know, we just didn't want the ball, we just didn't move the ball. Not having Gastón (Giménez) hurts a little bit because he helps us through the midfield, move the ball. But you know, they were missing players too and they showed up. We're at our place and we didn't, and as a coach, I take responsibility for that. Because I was very disappointed tonight and I don't like for my teams to play like that, you know? I've never been a coach who accepts performances like that. And for that, I know we'll get better next game."

On the team reaching its ceiling within conference play...
"No, I don't think so. Because you know, beyond those top three or four teams, everything is still there within reach. You know, we have eight games now to play. We just gotta remain confident and I gotta make sure I instill that confidence in them, that we have not reached our ceiling, that our ceiling is above the line, if there is a ceiling. The last two games and yes, it's been tough opponents. But NYCFC haven't really been in that good of form and we're at home, and we're fighting for our playoff life. At the least, we have to show up. And tonight, we did not show up; that's the disappointing thing about it. I know we can play better football. The goals we've given up, even last week, are very soft goals. Some miscues but for the most part, just soft goals. And that has to stop. And so it starts with that, we've got to stop giving up poor goals and then the football has to be better. Tonight is the first time all year that I felt we weren't in the game the entire time, from start to finish. Yeah, there were some moments, hitting the crossbar late in the game there, but for the most part, our game was not fluid and we play a more fluid football than what we showed tonight. And I don't know how to explain that but I know we haven't reached our ceiling because I still think this team can do what it takes to get into the playoffs." 

On substituting Mauricio Pineda with Fabian Herbers...
"Well, we knew we had to take Carlos out but as far as taking Pineda out, we just needed a little bit more in the midfield that we thought we weren't getting offensively or defensively. You know, it's sometimes difficult to jump from position to position like that, but he's played there before and we just didn't feel like he was having the game, him and Fede weren't complementing each other as we've seen in the past. So, we felt like we had to make a change there. Maybe bring Fabi in to try and help with some of that movement in the middle so we can get forward a little bit easier. They were very good at keeping us going square and back and we're a team that likes to move the ball forward, break lines and we just weren't getting out of the back. And so, the decision was to get someone that maybe could help us a little bit better than we were getting at the time." 

On keeping Kendall Burks on the bench... 
"Kendall played last night with the second team. We had him on the bench in case there was an emergency, maybe Carlos couldn't go in warm ups, or he went down early in the game, something like that. But once it got late in the game like that, you know, we felt the best thing to do was to get more attackers. We were down 2-0 at the time too so putting another defender on probably wasn't the right thing. We wanted to somehow get Chris and Guti on the wings, with Jairo and Shaq and Fabi in the middle, with Duran. You know, just try and get some more attacking players on the pitch rather than come in with another centerback."

Chicago Fire FC Defender Rafael Czichos

On tonight’s loss…
“I don't know. It's right after the game, it's really hard to say. Home game, was a good atmosphere. The pitch was great. The weather was okay. I don't know. We are really disappointed. I think you guys can feel it. It's really quiet and yeah it was a big chance for us to come back after the tough loss last week. But we didn't make it and we have to keep our head up and we have to look forward to next week.”

On the play that led to NYCFC's second goal…
“I don't know if he touched me. I think the situation was over or I thought the situation was over. Then I got the ball, I didn't see the guy coming from the left and then I tried everything to find the solution to get out of the situation. Unfortunately, he didn't whistle and yeah, second goal, and then it's really hard to come back against New York City FC.”

On the amount of pressure NYCFC put on the team tonight…
“Yeah, when we knew that before. We had a lot of meetings and analyzed New York City and that was not a surprise for us, but we couldn't find the right solutions. And we were always a step too late, especially in the first half. Even the new formation in the middle of the second half didn't help us. We were too lazy today at the end of the day, so yeah, tough loss. But like I said, we have to keep our heads up.”

On the difference between the playing surfaces at SeatGeek Stadium and Soldier Field…
“Both (are) okay, it's not 100 percent perfect. But of course, it's a different stadium. But like I said before, the atmosphere was okay. Was good actually. And the fans, they tried to push us. Yeah, but we didn't show it on the pitch today.”

Chicago Fire FC Midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri

On his thoughts about the match…
“We lost the game, simple as that. Today we lost and we are not happy. We need to do better, next week is another chance.”

On what the team can do better on the pitch…
“We need to be better on the ball, guys need to take the ball and try to play forward. There (are) a few things we need to do better. But we will sit together and check this out with the coach.”

On the explanation for how the team played tonight…
“The coach gave us information on how to play and we tried to do that on the pitch. And today we didn’t do what the coach wanted and what we wanted to do. It just wasn’t good enough today. NYCFC had more of the ball and was more comfortable with the ball. We have to play normally like this. We try to do better but we need to work on things in practice.”

On what things can be worked on the pitch…
“There (are) a few things. We have to deal better with the ball, you know, we need to want the ball more, everybody. This is what New York showed us today, how we should play. They played very well, they managed the game and that is what we want. We weren’t in our best form today.”

On comparing MLS to European soccer leagues…
“There (are) a few differences of course. You can’t compare much to Europe because it’s a much different league. If you saw, today, the game (between) Chelsea and Leeds, how intense it was. So there are a few differences. But the MLS is coming now. There are a lot of good players coming to the league from Europe in their best age. And I think the league is getting better but it’s still not the same as Europe.”

On his perspective when the first goal was conceded…
“I think it was from a corner. It was a nice shot to be fair, he put it in the correct corner. It was difficult to defend this.”

On the space that NYCFC had on the first goal…
“We can defend better, everybody, and we have to show our mistakes and try to do better in the next game. Simple”