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Chicago Fire fall to Houston Dynamo FC on Saturday. Following the match Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson and Goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina assessed the loss. Read their full thoughts below:

Chicago Fire FC Quotes

Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson

On when the decision was made for Xherdan Shaqiri to stay in Chicago…
“Yeah, he came to training on Friday morning. He was nauseated and stuff, was able to take some medication and train on Friday. But then after that on his way to the airport, he became nauseated again. We just thought it wasn't a good idea to bring him. You know, make sure he's healthy.

He tested negative for COVID, so it wasn't that. But just in case, not knowing, we thought it was best to keep him at home rather than bring him on plane with the team.”

On how much of a concern it is to try to mitigate the health issues within the team with so many players in health and safety protocols…
“Yeah, it's a big problem. It's something we talked about even back in preseason that if we're able to keep guys COVID-free, it becomes an advantage for us. Because last year, a lot of teams who were affected a lot by COVID, some of them didn't make the playoffs.

But it happens. You know, this thing, you could go to the supermarket and get it. But we try to be as cautious and as vigilant as we can to prevent it but it happens. And unfortunately it's happened a couple times to us now.”

On whether it feels like the team lost that progress it had gained after the break with the loss against Houston…
“No. Because you know, we have to keep staying positive and remaining confident. I think what I told the boys at the end, if we're honest with ourselves, that was not a very good performance by us. And it was sad that after such a great performance last weekend, we came here and just didn't really show up.

In the first ten, 15 minutes, we had some good moments, a couple of chances, half-chances in the box. But overall, it was not Fire soccer, and that's not the way we want to play. That's not the kind of discipline we want to show when we step on the pitch.

We are very disappointed, but you know, we're not going to panic. Good thing we have a game on Wednesday, so we have three days to come out and show that this tonight was not us.

But if we're honest, that's not a good performance, and you're not going to win too many games when you perform like that overall. We talked about consistency and being consistent, and can we now add to that performance from last week, and tonight, we didn't. I'm being honest; we did not.

But we'll bounce back and we'll come again on Wednesday. But we have to play better football than we did tonight, all across the board, every player.”

On how the team allowed the second goal to happen…
“Well, again, on a cross that we don't clear and get to them, but still we have an opportunity to make a tackle and we don't. It's just, you know, a couple really, really poor goals. And that's the thing, you're not playing well, but if you don't give up those poor goals, especially that second one right before the half then maybe you stand a chance.

But once we give up that second goal, on the road like that, it's really hard because now they can sit back and not really push the game and it becomes even harder. We struggled with that tonight. The second half, we didn't create many chances at all.”

On how Gaga has been able to turn his form around since the break…
“Gaga is a very good goalkeeper, but when you're a young player, sometimes you make mistakes. He had a couple games where he made mistakes in Cincinnati and Red Bull, but we never thought once or our evaluation of him had changed. He did tonight what he's been doing all year, and that's when being called upon, stepping up and making some saves.

But we can't put our goalkeeper under that kind of pressure in the game. But luckily he was able to keep a couple of them out of the net or it could have been worse tonight.

From a team standpoint, I want to stress that we'll be better come Wednesday because we know and we talked about it after the game that it's not us. That's not how we play. And we want to keep improving and we want to be consistent, but consistently good, not one good game and one bad, one good, one bad. Especially in the position that we're in right now, we need to start getting points. This was a good opportunity to come in tonight and we just didn't take it.”

Chicago Fire FC Goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina

On the team’s performance and playing in the heat…
“Thanks for having me and asking me some questions. I think the team, we started off well. We had a couple of chances to get in front of the game but obviously the other team had chances as well.

I think the quicker we can start putting away our chances the better we'll have at getting a result out of these away matches.

The heat is not an excuse. Both teams are playing in the heat, so I think that's for sure a challenge but we need to come through as a team and work together and stick to our game plan and make sure that we come out on top.”

On his individual performance and whether there were some positives to take away, individually…
“You know, honestly, I look at the team first. So it doesn't really matter if I make ten saves or 15 saves, if two go in the back of the net, then I didn't do my job to the best of my ability.

But you know, I think it's about, now, recognizing how I can organize my defense to make sure that those two goals never happen and making sure that I prevent any chance on goal rather than having to make a save or something like that. I think in all areas, I can improve as well. So I don't think making a few good saves justifies my performance or anything like that.”

On how much losing Wyatt Omsberg for several months affects the team since he has been so steady…
“Yeah, I'm wishing him a speedy recovery. He's a great guy, great personality on and off the field. It's obviously tough but it's part of the game. I think he's doing his best to the best of his ability to make sure that he's coming back before the end of the season but obviously it's a difficult injury. So you know, everyone I think is wishing him the best because we want him back on the field but I think that we have guys that can step in and play the role because I think that we have the personnel to do that.”

On whether the recent global attention has been difficult, especially at just 18 years old…
“It's part of the game, as well. I think the more that things like that, rumors online and everything like that, I think the more I can zone in on my personal performance and making sure that I come and continue to do the things that got me to this point, I think that I'm going to continue to learn and grow because that's what it's about in life, on and off the field. I think it's about learning and using those rumors or anything like that to enhance my game instead of make it worse.”