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The Chicago Fire pushed their unbeaten run to four straight matches on Saturday night with a 0-0 draw against Atlanta United at Soldier Field. Following the match, Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson, forward Chris Mueller, and midfielder Jairo Torres assessed the performance with members of the media. Read their quotes in full below:

Chicago Fire FC Quotes

Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson

On the status of Carlos Terán...
“He pulled his hamstring. As far as the severity of it, I'm not sure yet. We'll have to talk to the trainers and staff afterwards but he did something.”

On his take on the game and the playing surface's effect on the match...
“We're a team that likes to play and it was kind of sticky so, it was hard to play. We're never gonna make excuses for mistakes on passing and stuff like that. But I felt like in the first half especially, we would press, would win it back and then we would not connect that pass and I think that maybe had something to do with it. But at the end of the day, they had to play on the same turf. So, you know, we just got to be better at that, so that we don't defend for 30 seconds, and then keep it for five seconds and then have to defend for 30 seconds again. Over the course of 90 minutes, that becomes difficult for you. So that's something we talked about at halftime. But you know, the field is the same, same turf for both teams. So, no excuses there.” 

On the playing surface's effect on Terán's injury...
“No, I don't think so. I think he, after that throw in, he went on a long sprint, trying to recover when they went out on a break. And I think that's when he tweaked something. So hopefully it's not anything too difficult. We have a very good high-performance staff and very good trainers and stuff. So hopefully he'll be ready for next weekend. But we'll see what happens with that.”

On Gabriel Slonina's future...
“Well, there's something close but nothing has been signed yet. So, I can't really speak on that but there's something very close to happening with that.”

On the physical status of Jairo Torres...
"Yeah, he's come a long way physically. But as you can see, towards the end there, he started cramping a little bit. So, he's not 90 minutes fit yet, but he's gotten a lot better as far as his physical fitness. So, you know, as long as he's able to go, he'll be on the pitch because he's a very important player for us. We were able to get you know, I think 80-something minutes out of him today so that was good. That's a long way from what we've been able to do. And again, that's credit to the high-performance, the trainers and staff that has worked on him this past five, six weeks, because we got him in a position where he was playing 30, 40 minutes, possibly; now we got him up to about 80. So, hopefully by next week, we'll have a 90. But it's just a matter of him being physically fit for 90 and he stays on the pitch, because he's one of those players that could change the game like that. We need those type of players on the pitch."

On the fouls suffered by Xherdan Shaqiri...
"Yeah, well, some calls, you're gonna get some, you're not gonna get some. I thought maybe they were fouling Shaq a lot. I mean, I think even in the first half, I heard a referee saying, 'one more foul, it'll be a yellow.' But you know, it happened and he didn't give it. We were fouling their guys also so, you know, that's part of the game. Shaq is a very good player and that was part of their game plan, obviously, is to disrupt him by fouling him. Some got called, some didn't."

On the team's aspirations to the MLS Playoffs...
"As far as aspirations for the playoffs, yeah, that's still our goal. You know, we didn't get the full three points tonight like we wanted, but from four or five games ago, every game was a game that we're gonna go out and play for three points for. This just means that now, we have to go on the road and pick up three points, but I think we've shown that we can do that. So we're not worried about that. The big thing for me from this game is, you know, a month, two months ago, we lose that game tonight, you know, we find some way to lose that game and that didn't happen tonight. That's a very good team, very good attacking players, the movement is very good. But we were able to keep it to zero; we got a goal that was called back for offside. But I just like the resolve of the players, you know, that mentality, that attitude that, you know what, we're going to play for three points tonight. We're not going to sit back, we went at them toe-to-toe but we didn't get that goal. But what I liked most is that we didn't give up a goal and we weren't going to give up a goal tonight. We were either going to tie that game or win that game. And that's the kind of mentality that I'm liking from this team. And that's going to bode well for us going forward." 

On Slonina's near future with the team...
"Well, I don't really know the full details of it, but I know Gaga will be with us for the rest of the year. But you know, something is very close to happening and I think the kid deserves it. But there's no signature yet or anything so I really can't speak on details as far as that goes. But I'm happy for the kid and it shows that we have some good talent, some good young talent here in this organization." 

Chicago Fire FC Midfielder Chris Mueller

On the team's performance in the match...
"You know, I think that in the first half, we were a bit slow. I don't think that we played up to our standards, especially for coming out at home. I think that we obviously want to be on the front foot and have a bit more of the possession, feel a little bit more in control of the game. But I think that obviously coming into the second half, we responded really well. We had a much better second half, had good chances, as did they in the first half; the game could have gone either way. So obviously, I think that we should have come up with three points given how we were closing out the game, kind of really putting the pressure on them, creating a ton of chances. I obviously missed a pretty important play as well. So, we'll reflect on it and try to be better but obviously, the positive is that we didn't drop points. We continue the unbeaten streak and we'll just reflect, get better and move on to the next match."

On changes through the unbeaten streak...
"I think we're just picking up a little bit more belief as we continue to get good results and especially getting three in a row there, one big one on the road. It just continues to build the confidence of the group and we're continuing to learn from each other and get more chemistry, and as the days go by and training and as the games continue to knock down and we log more minutes together. You know, that's natural and I think that obviously winning helps. So, we're all confident right now, we believe in the group and we believe that with the position that we're in, we'll be able to accomplish what we want to do." 

On the effect of the playing surface...
"I mean, we obviously don't want to make excuses for the pitch because it's the same for Atlanta as well, but certainly it was a bit slow. I think that obviously if you get a little bit of water on there it helps the ball skip around, and that would have obviously benefited us. There were a few times, you could see guys were going after the dribble and it's getting stuck under their feet and you know, just in a couple of those loose touches, you can see little bits and pieces like that where it does actually have a bit of an effect on the game. But we weren't you know, thinking that before the game, that it was gonna affect us in any way. We obviously wanted to get three points regardless. So, it is what it is."

On his chemistry with Xherdan Shaqiri…
"Yeah, so with Shaq obviously, he's a really good player and having him to play with and link with is, it makes my job a lot easier. You know, he's such a smart player in the way that he moves in fine spaces and you know, weights passes into the space for me to run into and is constantly looking for me in behind. We're obviously building a good relationship on the pitch and, you know, he does something for me where he holds me to a really high standard, you know, anytime that I'm making maybe a poor decision or losing the ball in some sort of sloppy way, he's letting me know about it. And, you know, I appreciate that, I can take it. You know, you've got to have thick skin when you play with someone who's played at the levels that he has. And I think it's good because it holds us all to a higher standard, you know, we got to do the simple things right. We got to make the right decisions. That's what's going to continue to give us good results as we move forward. So, I really enjoy playing with him. I think it's making me better and learning from him, obviously, has been a pleasure for me as an individual player."

On the future of Gabriel Slonina...
"Yeah, I don't really know much about Gaga's situation, to be fair. He's got a great future ahead of him. He's a great young player and his head is on his shoulders, you know, he does the right things. He has good habits; he takes care of his body for his age. He's an example to a lot of the guys in the locker room, for sure, in the way that he is professional. So, I have no doubt that no matter what lies ahead of him, he's going to handle it well."

Chicago Fire FC Midfielder Jairo Torres

On how he’s feeling, physically…
“Yeah, it’s been a little bit difficult for me because I had a knock when I came. It was just a little bit ago that I was able to train with the rest of the team. I felt a little bit out of rhythm but little by little I’ve been gaining that rhythm that I was missing. And the truth is that today, it was a complicated game but I felt very good, physically during the game. But we have to get three points in the next game to get ahead.” 

On whether not winning at home in this game complicates the team’s playoffs aspirations…
“We know that at home we have to get three points. This game was very complicated. When we played there, it went very poorly for us and in this game, we wanted to do the opposite, but the result wasn’t there. But I think we have to be focused on ourselves, right, not look so much at other teams. There are 11 games left and we have to get as many points as possible to get to the playoffs.”

On whether having a four-game unbeaten run motivates the team…
“We know that it’s very important to continue to get points. It gives us extra motivation, after being at the bottom of the table we began to win, we began this streak and thanks to the work of the whole team, we’ve been able to climb out of there. We’re fighting for the playoffs and to keep going down that road that is very motivating. We’re excited to be there and to get into the playoffs.”

On how he has adapted on the field with his teammates…
“Yeah, as I was saying, I’ve been training with them now for the full training session and little by little I’m getting to know my teammates, I’m adapting to the style of play that the coach is asking for, the movements and everything. The truth is that I feel very good, my teammates have a lot of confidence in me and they treat me very well. I’m grateful to them for that confidence and I need to pay it back with assists or goals and making dangerous plays.”