Chicago Fire FC picked up a point on the road on Wednesday night in a 3-3 draw against the New York Red Bulls. Following the match, Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson and goalscorers Xherdan Shaqiri and Chris Mueller spoke with media about the result. Read their quotes in full below.
Chicago Fire FC Quotes
Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson
On whether the tie feels like one point gained or two points dropped…
“Definitely two points dropped. It's a tie but feels like a loss. You're on the road at a tough place to play against a very good team, and you put yourself in position to walk away with three points and in the blink of an eye, you let it slip away.
We've just got to learn to manage games better, you know, in situations like this because we don't want to find ourselves come August, September, looking back thinking, man, we should have got three there, we should have got three there. These points are valuable points that we need to come away with, especially the ones we put ourselves in position to get them. It's just mistakes and you know lack of concentration that once again has -- you know, in two games now has put us into this position.
But we have to remain confident. It's a quick turnaround. We have a game against a very good -- probably the best team in the League on Sunday at their place, so we have to find a way to, you know, regroup and you know, be ready again on Sunday.”
On what the team is doing to support Gabriel Slonina after a couple of rough games…
“Yeah, and that's the thing, you know, he's an 18-year-old kid. He's a bit inexperienced. But you know, he's a mentally tough kid, and he's made a couple mistakes now in the past couple games but he's still our No. 1.
As far as what we need to do, we just need to put our arms around him, let him know we're still confident in him because he's our goalkeeper and he's a very good goalkeeper, at that. It's just sometimes, you know, players go through situations like this and he's just got to find his way out of it and especially in that position. You've got to be able to forget the last game plan and move on. We need him to do that and we'll help him as a group to get past this game and to get past these couple, you know, blunders. But he's our goalkeeper, he's our No. 1. There's no doubt about that.”
On whether outside factors are affecting Gabriel Slonina’s concentration…
“Maybe outside of the game but in the game I don't think he's thinking about all that stuff. He just happened to make some mistakes.
You know, we all make mistakes as soccer players and it just happened to be that in that position of his, your mistakes are more dangerous, are more costly than someone missing a goal or something like that. But he'll get out of it and we'll make sure that he stays positive and stays confident.”
On Chris Mueller’s performance and inclusion in the team over the last few weeks…
“Chris is a very good player and that's why we knew we had to get a player like him and he's lifted us a little bit. Tonight he played really well. Even beyond the goal, I thought his ability to combine with other players in the attack is very good and we need that. We needed more of that and we are starting to see us playing better, more cohesive once we get into the final third into the front half of the pitch, and he's helping with that.
So we're very happy to have him and I thought he played really well tonight and it was good to see him get a goal. I thought it was a really very good goal for him.”
On Brian Gutiérrez’s performance and what he brings to the Fire…
“Yeah, Guti, we have several young players with very a high ceiling and Guti is one of them and he's showing it. He's learning on the job, so to speak, but he's a very good player and he has some really, really good quality, individual quality, and just his work rate is pretty good. I thought he worked really, really hard tonight on both ends, offensively and defensively.
We are happy to see the way he's developing and how he's gelling with the rest of the players. He'll be a big part of our team going forward and I’m sure with the Under-20 team, likewise.”
On the players who came off the bench and the rotation of players in the next two matches…
“Whenever we have a 3-in-8, 3-in-7 like that, we have to kind of rotate a little bit. We are much deeper now, so we are able to do that, and I thought the guys who, you know, started did well and I thought the guys who came on really gave us a lift. (Jairo) Torres came on was excellent for us and he did really, really well.
When you have games in succession like this, yes, you do have to rotate and it's good to have the ability to do that. And so we don't, you know, run guys into the ground because it's a long season, and it's something that's necessary from the physical standpoint. It's good to see that guys were ready to step up and do the job.
So going forward, you know, whenever we have situations like this, yes, we will continue to rotate, and everyone on this team has to be able to step up when their name gets called, and that's the kind of team we're trying to build where there's not a big drop off from one player to the next.
We are getting there. It's going to take some time but we are working, we are building and I like the progress that we are making. I was very proud of them today except for that finish in the game. I thought we played, like I said, at a really, really tough place against a very good team. I thought we played really well. That improvement, I'm liking that, what I'm seeing from the guys, from everyone.”
Chicago Fire FC Midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri
On the mood around the team after the game…
“Obviously disappointed because we came here to win the game and in the end, yeah, really disappointed how we concede the goal in the last minute, because we have to do better with this.
In general, it was a positive game for us because the last few games were not so good. We didn't have positive results, so it was a good step again in the right direction, and yeah, that was okay. But of course we need to do better and we need to learn from our mistakes because we are doing too many mistakes at the moment and we have to learn from these mistakes and to do of course better to manage this game, obviously, we have to win because we score before, we just before the 90 minutes we score the 3-2 and in the extra time, they score.
We have to do better with this but the guys, they know it, and yeah, we will do for sure better the next time. But in the end, we take that draw, one point, and we keep going. We have another game on Sunday.”
On what went well for the team tonight…
“To be honest, you can see, the new players came in. There is some quality there, and you can see how many chances we create, offensively, and, yeah, you have also a lot of positive things to take from this game, obviously, and how I say before, from the mistakes, we have to learn, and yeah, we have to do better as a team, as a collective, everybody, and then I'm sure we will win games again and we are going to go in the right direction. But, offensively, you saw how we fought back and we came back in front of Red Bull, 3-2. You can see that the mentality is good.
But still we have to work on, and we have to learn from our mistakes to manage these kind of games and to win these kind of games.”
On what advice he gives to a young player like Gabriel Slonina as one of the more experienced players on the team…
“Look, Gaga, he's young, and he needs to learn also, so he will make mistakes. This is pretty normal. He will have always our support. He will learn from his mistakes. He saved us a lot, so yeah, he will learn for sure and we are going to keep going. We are going to help him every time he needs and, yeah, we are behind him. We are going to help him and I'm pretty sure he's going to manage that well, and yeah, he's going to do his work again in the next game and he's going to help us a lot. So I'm pretty sure he’ll learn from these mistakes.”
On how he would evaluate his performance this year…
“Very early to speak about my performances, my friend, because we have already only 11. We played 11 games, so it's just in the beginning of the season. So it's, I think, early to speak about my performance. But you can see in, not only today, but a few games, my quality and I'm here to help this team go forward. Until now, I'm hungry for more and I know that everybody needs to do better because our expectation is high. Yeah, I'm trying my best. I'm trying to help these young players, too, because we are also young and need to learn from our mistakes. So I try to help them, too, in every sense on and off the pitch, but yeah, it's very early to speak about my performance, my friend.”
On whether the quick turnaround before the next game is a good thing for the team right now, or a bad thing…
“No, I think it's a good thing because you have another chance to, yeah, to show up and to do better. So I like it, too, this way and to play a few games in a row because, yeah, you can just be in a rhythm and you can react again and do better from your previous games. So there is another day, another chance to improve and to try to get points, so we don't have a lot of time to think about this game, so we have to think about (moving) forward and yeah, I'm pretty sure the boys are going to be ready on Sunday.”
Chicago Fire FC Winger Chris Mueller
On the mood around the team after the game…
“I'd say it's more negative than anything else just because of the fact of the result. Like you said, we played really well and positively, we fought back multiple times, got ahead on the road, created multiple chances, dominated most of the game for the better part of it, at least.
And you know, it's a tie that feels like a loss at the end of the day, especially where you lose it in the last minute like that, you score, and to just let up that last goal really hurts.
Yeah, we've just got to learn from it and move forward. There's nothing we can do. But definitely I would say that we are all feeling a bit down just because we know we had those three points right there, so it stinks.”
On how it felt to score his first goal with the Fire and be part of an attack that was pretty solid, despite the result…
“It felt great. Obviously you want to contribute as an attacking player to helping the team, and I think it came in a good moment where obviously we went down 1-0 early on sort of a soft penalty call, and I think that the goal just helped the team bounce back and regain some belief going into the rest of the game. I think that we controlled most of it and didn't really let a lot faze us.
Obviously it feels great to score. It's the best part of the game but ultimately, too, you want to win because this is a team game and it just stinks that we weren't able to cap it off with three points.”
On Brian Gutiérrez’s performance and what he brings to the team…
“I think Brian is a really good, talented young player who obviously has a lot of potential and you know, not really a cap on what he can do. You saw it there on the goal, he's really intelligent on the ball, and the weight of his pass, I didn't need to take a touch on the box. He just kind of laid it in the space for me, and obviously had the awareness to just take one touch and play me in.
So I think that other than that, as well, he had a positive game, he drew a lot of good fouls in dangerous areas. He was good on the dribble, had some good touches, found me a couple times as well on the big switch. Yeah, I think that he's promising and obviously has a massive future ahead of him for how young he is and how many games he's getting. I just hope he can continue to build on that.”
On his impressions of Gabriel Slonina that make him think he can get through what has been a difficult two-game stretch…
“As a young player, I don't think you can look back at times where anybody was a young player where they didn't make mistakes.
Obviously being a goalkeeper, sometimes those are highlighted but I mean, being his age and stepping in and playing such a difficult role as goalkeeper where if you do make a mistake, it's right, center stage under the spotlight. But he's a confident kid. He has a good head on his shoulders and he's got people around him who will continue to encourage him and put their confidence in him.
Obviously it's a difficult challenge for him as it is for the team but I have no doubt that he'll bounce back just knowing his character.”