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CHICAGO (Sept. 18, 2022) –  Chicago Fire FC II closed out the inaugural 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season with a 1-0 victory over Inter Miami CF II on Sunday afternoon at SeatGeek Stadium. Alex Monis scored early in the match and the defense held on for Mihajlo Mišković’s first clean sheet of the season. The result eliminated Miami from the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs.

After the match, Chicago Fire FC II head coach Ludovic Taillandier, defender Carlo Ritaccio and midfielder Alex Monis talked about the season-capping victory against Miami.

Chicago Fire FC II Head Coach Ludovic Taillandier

On the match, playing spoiler against Inter Miami CF II and closing out the season with a win at home…

“Yeah, we told our players that we needed to respect the game until the end, until the last game, and play this game 100 percent, like we played all of them, or we tried. In general, we had different sides of the spectrum in this game with moments that we felt we controlled the game, with other moments we trying to deal with their waves, and we were mostly defending close to our goal. Which is not what we do best. But we were able to improve game after game on the defensive side of the game.

We also tried to defend together a little lower on the field sometimes when we cannot do differently because sometimes you are not able to keep the ball enough and you are not able to have the possession enough to go up the field together and potentially counter press and stay in their half. We weren’t able to do that enough. Then we had we had to stay in our half and to try to defend the score all the way to the end.

Then yes, look, the team was brave. It’s probably something we didn't do as well a few months ago. We have a little more maturity I would say, even though I'm not completely happy with the way we played today. Especially in the second half, the lack of control on the ball. We want to play a position style of football based on having the ball and when we don't have it we want to press to get it back fast, and we're not exactly able to control the games the way we wanted to. But the win is good. That's four wins out of the last five games. I'm proud of the improvements of the team and other players.”

On Alex Monis’s goal and what he brought to the team this season…

“He really helped us in the first half with these runs behind. He's very good at it, very good at running diagonally behind the defense and that was one run behind the defense that ended up with his goal. That's really something he brings to the team and he’s a very important player for us, his capacity to run behind and to finish. He was definitely involved in many goals we scored. I’m happy with him.” 

On what he learned in this inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season that can be applied for next season…

“We learned that details can make a difference. We learned that we have to keep our attacking style but at the same time to also be ready to defend better. And then we learned how to be more together, whatever we do, in the good moments and in the bad moments. Sometimes you don't find the ball and just try to be compact, to resist the opponent. We learned to handle the hard better, I would say.”

Chicago Fire FC II Defender Carlo Ritaccio

On the result of today's match closing the season with a win…

“Sometimes my people think of winning as an amazing feeling, it’s pretty, it's something so glamorous. But at the end of the day, sometimes it's gritty and ugly. And we needed to do an ugly job today and we got it done. It wasn’t the way we’d love to play. But I am proud of the team and staff. The way we approached the game because our mentality was fantastic.”

On the lessons learned this season as captain…

“Yeah we learned a lot. Obviously we have a very young team, but a very promising team. And I think we all understand now that the margins are so slim that one little mistake, one little lapse of concentration is gonna cost us. But I think towards the end of the season we’ve really grown and matured a lot. And I think there’s still a long way to go. But like I said before I’m really proud of the team,”

On his message to the staff, the locker room and his family in New York…

“First and foremost to the staff, I know that the job is not pretty, I could totally understand. The amount of work, commitment and effort they put into us. I’m so grateful for them. In terms of the guys in the locker room their mentality is awesome. Their commitment to work with each other and the idea that it’s bigger than themselves is something that is really mesmerizing for a group so young. It shows how mature they are. How much more they have to go and how much more potential they have. And then all the way back home in New York, to my mom, dad, brothers, and all my family out there. The constant phone calls and facetimes. They’ve been so supportive and I’m so grateful for having them in my corner. I’ve been truly blessed.”

Chicago Fire FC II Midfielder Alex Monis

On grabbing his fifth goal of the season…

“It was good to get another goal and finish on a high note for the season. It’s been tough all season but the boys grinded it out today. And I’m just happy to help the team.”

On teammate Omari Glasgow’s play to grab his fourth assist to set up the winning goal…

“Yeah it was a bit of a counter attack. And he picked his head up well, he saw me in stride. I took a moment to look across to see if anybody was open and I just decided to give it a go and thankfully it went in.”

On the lessons learned this season…

“A lot of ups and downs for sure. But I think this group has grown tremendously from the start of the season. These last stretch of games we’ve put together a lot of good performances and got some good results. I think it’s building good momentum into next season. And hopefully we can carry that into next season and get more results.”

On his message to the players, staff and his family…

“I just want to thank all the players and staff for putting in the effort this year. Like I said it’s been a long season and they've all played a part in my development, with the first team as well. And then my family members as well for always pushing me to keep going and help put together good performances.”