Quote Sheet | Hendrickson, Kamara on dramatic 3-2 win at Inter Miami CF


Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson and forward Kei Kamara spoke to the media following the team's 3-2 win on the road at Inter Miami CF, in which Kamara scored the match-winner in second half stoppage time. Read their quotes in full below.

Chicago Fire FC Quotes

Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson

On the victory and team performance tonight…
First of all I want to say that I'm glad the shoe is on the other foot tonight. Last week we gave up a late goal to tie. We didn't lose, but it felt like a loss. Tonight we wanted to make sure it didn't happen. I thought the guys fought really hard. I told them at halftime, listen, they are at home, they are a very good team they are not going to go down easy, to expect a fight. And I thought we matched them and we were able to get away on the break after going to the 5-4-1, and you know, Kei (Kamara) did what he's been doing all these years in the League, putting that ball away. That was a big goal for us.

This is a win that could really transform a team and really give you some momentum. We have three home games coming up now, so hopefully this will propel us into getting some full points at home.”

On the decision to move to a 5-4-1 in the second half…
“Especially once it gets to be 2-2, this is something that we practiced during this week. We went into the 5-4-1 and we just basically, we're on the road and we wanted to make sure we didn't lose the game because if there's an opportunity to win it, then we are going ahead and do that.

So during the week, we practiced defending, defending and once we win it, can we find that outlet. And Guti, I have to tip my hat off to him because last week in the tie against Cincy, he missed two, maybe three passes where he could give up the ball at the top of the box. We sat down and we watched that on film as a team and in our reflection and we talked about that. Tonight he was in the same position two times and he made the right decisions. On the first goal for Chris, he slid it across and didn't try to be too fancy; and again with Kei, he played him in and Kei put it away. It's good to see when a young kid like that is developing as much as Guti is developing. I thought it's been two good games by him, and we just want to continue to grow on that. But overall as a team we just wanted to make sure we did not lose the game; we played for that opportunity, and when it came, I thought we did well with it.”

On the team scoring three goals in consecutive games and whether that’s what he envisioned for the season…
“Yeah, well, something that we worked on a lot during preseason was our ability to score goals, to be better in the final third. Because last year, we had 12 shutouts, and in a 34-game season, (if) you have 12 shutouts you should make the playoffs.

We knew why we didn't make the playoffs. Beyond the injuries, it was us just not putting our chances away so we worked on that a lot during the preseason. First game, we get both our pivots injured in the first half, so that limits your opportunity to really play an attacking style of football. Then we go into Philly, you go a man down five minutes into the second half, so again that limits your chance to really get on the offensive end of things.

But the last two weeks I thought we did really well, as you said we got six goals. And you know, if we can win 1-0, I'll take that. I just want us to put ourselves in position every game to come away with points, whether it's at home or on the road. At home, we want full points. On the road we'll take ties but we don't play for ties. We play to win games.

And hopefully we can continue with that because this is really uplifting for the boys tonight, because after what happened last week, they were a bit down. We kept it positive during the week, and I'm just really happy for them that they came out and stuck with it tonight and came up with a win in a difficult place to play.”

On whether the team’s reaction to get the win was what he wanted to see from the players…
“Well, yeah, definitely, and like I said, we trained on this exact scenario this week, all right, where the game is tied or we're up, and we just make sure we protect the lead or we don't lose the game. But also, you know, not just sitting on the back, on the 18, but looking to get forward. You know, keeping that one guy up and trying to play forward, and we did that really well tonight. So it's good to see something that you work on in training show itself in a game. But at the end of the day, these guys were not going to give up tonight. It would have been easy because of what happened last week; that we give up the two goals and the game is tied 2-2 for these guys to just hang their head and not fight. But I thought every man, even the guys that we brought on to help shore up the minimum point, put in the effort. They all did. They worked hard. And that's all you can ask of your players: Work hard, trust the tactics, trust the process and believe in what we're doing, and I think these guys are believing and it's starting to show.

Beyond that Philly game, is the only game that so far in the three before tonight that we didn't come out with points, and it looks bleak to see people, but in that locker room, there's no negativity. It's all positive. It's all ‘we know we can play better, we know we should do better, and let's just go out and do it.’ That's something that it's ingrained in them because that's something that we preach as a staff to them every day. You guys, shut out the noise. Don't listen to experts out there. You guys are much better than people are giving you credit for and it will show. The only way to go out and get recognition is to go out and prove it on the pitch, and I thought tonight was a good start in that direction and we just hope to continue like that.”

On the performances of Jonny Dean and Alonso Aceves…
“I thought they did really well. Let's start with Jonny (Dean). He's a guy that we brought up from USL last year and he's someone that we are very happy with. He's a guy that can play multiple positions, and you know as a coach you have someone with that kind of versatility, it's really good to have. He's someone that we trust and someone that we have no issues with putting on the pitch.

So when Miguel Navarro was out at left back, we knew he was a natural fit there. He's a right-footed player but like I said, he can play many different positions and he showed that tonight. Is he the full product yet? No. But he's getting there and he's improving day-by-day, and he puts it in, in training, and it's good to see his development, also, in just the short time he's been with us.

Alonso (Aceves) has just been with us a couple weeks now. But again, we didn't mind when we wanted to go into a 5-4-1 or 3-5-1-1, whatever you want to call it, to put him on the wing, on the left wing, and I thought he did well. He has his defensive tendencies. He knows when to step, when to drop off. He knows how to close guys down and I thought he did well when he came in.

Everyone tonight I thought played well. Those two guys, I was very happy with their performances tonight.”

On Kei Kamara and what it means to have a proven goal scorer on the team…
“Kei did tonight what he's been doing for quite some time now. If (Brian Gutiérrez) got that ball to him, he would put it in the back of the net. He's a guy that I trust and I've known for a long time now. He came in and we were on the same team, in my last years, he was a rookie in Columbus.

So he's someone I know really well and someone I trust. So I had no issues putting him on the pitch because of what he brings. He works defensively. He's very good at holding up play; we thought we were starting to lose that battle, so that's why we made that change.

He took a knock halfway through his 30 minutes or whatever he played tonight and it kind of slowed him down a little bit, but he caught his second wind and was able to do what we asked of him, and that's put the ball in the back of the net. He's been good for us on and off the field.

Unfortunate situation happened in Philly where he picked up that second yellow so he missed last week. But he's someone that we thought we missed his presence on the pitch last week, we missed finishing out that game. So, he's going to get minutes. He's an older guy but we know what he gives us. He's still fit and he's going to bring a lot to this team and this organization.”

On two goals coming from low crosses to the back post…
“(It’s) something we worked on. We noticed that once the ball gets on the wing in their final third when they are in the box, they get a little narrow and they always leave the back post. I saw it a couple times when Toronto, and I think it was Philly, played back crosses. They didn't get goals but we knew that was something we could exploit.

So we made sure we told our weak side winger, whenever we are crossing, you make sure you get in. Someone has to get to the back post. Two or three occasions tonight, we had that and we got it to the guy a couple times. So that's something that we noticed as far as their back four, how narrow they get once they are in their box defending.”

Chicago Fire FC Forward Kei Kamara

On what it means to score for 10 MLS teams and do it while picking up a huge goal and win for the Fire…
“Yeah, I'm sorry, I'm going to be really, really bad today and people are going to think I'm lying, but it wasn't really about my goal, or really focusing to say I'm scoring for another team and it was really about how we played the past, you know, three games and not being able to close it out and get a win. So it felt so much bigger than me scoring that goal for the rest of us because, you know, it gives us a lot of belief that what we've been working on, since I've been here for the past three, four weeks now, that it's paying off.”

On the sequence leading up to the goal and what it feels like to score for the Fire instead of against the Fire…
“It's a blur. I'm a striker. I don't remember what happened in the goal. I just scored. It's some things we've been working on, obviously, and you know, Guti being on the ball means he's growing, he's growing really, really well. Obviously I've watched him from being outside of this team and being here for the little bit that I have been and we are just working together. Again, it was a bit hard for us to be up a few goals and then tying it up. But we knew, I knew, actually, we needed just one chance. If we can get one chance, even if it's a through ball, then I can just run behind them. I was looking for one of those things. When I saw the ball it got played to the other side and it kept going in. That was on the far left side and in my mind it was just ‘run to the back side,’ and it was a great pass from him. I think it's the same pass he passed to Kacper (Przybyłko) the last game where he had a great finish, so today was just my turn.”

On what he sees within the team that shows why they can be so resilient in matches like tonight’s…
“Youth, man. Youth. The only thing younger players, when you're around that you can do, is absorb so much of the information that's been given, and that's really what the locker room is. There's a lot of youth in the locker room, but they are taking in so much information. For us now, it's how do we help the rest of the group to help apply that information that everybody is giving. You can see, I can see it from most of these guys -- I hope they didn't hear this interview, but I can see so much of heart that they do have and everybody wants to prove something. And it's great. It's really great. I don't want to feel like it's going to take me long to fit into the locker room. Obviously that's not my character. I'm ready to go right away and ready to just make my mark with them and just be part of the group.”

On his relationship with head coach Ezra Hendrickson after having played with him in Columbus…
“Yeah, great, great. I think it's not good for me to let out that I play for somebody that I played with because the guys call me ‘Grandpa’ in the locker room, that's really bad. I followed Ezra over the years, how he was working over in Seattle and back to Columbus, and we've always talked. We've always talked about the game and what he's going to do when he becomes a head coach of a team, and I believed in him all these years. So I was really happy, even last season, I was happy that he was the leader of the team here. But I remember when we played against this team and I said to him that ‘I want to play for you but it's not happening, so I'm going to punish you today,’ and that's what happened last year.

But when I came here, or since I've been here, we actually haven't had a moment to sit down and talk one-on-one yet because I kind of just want to click with the guys in the locker room first before I sit down with the coach. But I respect him, and it's not about me saying, ‘oh, because we played together.’ You know, I'm always going to work hard. When I deserve a chance to play, he'll play me or he'll tell me what he wants to do, and I'll make sure that I apply it to the fullest.”

On his impression of Brian Gutiérrez and what he brings to the team…
“He's too big for his age. He's too tall. I wasn't that tall when I was that age. That's what I think about him. No, it's great to see that he's coming from the ranks. He's coming from the Academy. He's a local player and being at home, that really does help him. But it's not just him, the group that we do have, I see guys coming from the Academy up, which shows a lot of credit to what the Club is producing from the lower levels.

For him, you can see he wants to adapt to everybody and he wants to make sure that he's competing, not by age but, you know, by his experience and that, you know he's going to play and compete with the rest of the group. For me I'm just going to definitely continue to pass on some knowledge that I do have along the way and hopefully we can all grow together.”