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Chicago Fire FC were 2-0 victors over visiting Toronto FC on Wednesday night at Soldier field courtesy of a pair of first half goals from forward Jhon Durán. Following the match, Durán, Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson, and midfielders Xherdan Shaqiri and Brian Gutiérrez spoke with members of the media to give their thoughts on the win. Read their quotes in full below.

Chicago Fire FC Quotes

Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson

On establishing consistency after a loss… 
"Well, one of the last things when you're rebuilding like this, is to get that consistency. And that's something we've been struggling with all year. It's a good 45 here and then a bad 45, or a good 20 minutes and a bad 20 minutes. Normally, in games when we don't have the ball to play, we concede goals. Tonight, we weren't gonna do that. I gotta give it up to these guys, man, because we challenged them tonight to be courageous, be confident and be consistent. And it's hard to do, you know, coming off an emotional loss like we did on Saturday. But they found a way to come out and get the lead, two-goal lead and then keep it. You know, we're still not quite where we want to be, but we know it's not going to happen overnight and we're just gonna keep building and building and now it's a matter of being consistent from game to game. 

But that football tonight, that's how we want to play. We want to get on teams early, get up early, but keep leads, not give them away. We don't want to be a team that's known to give up leads, give away games in the second half; that's not our identity. It was good. It's easy for, being up 2-0 tonight, for guys to remember what happened Saturday and go, ‘oh no.’ But they didn't show that tonight. I'm so proud of these guys. These guys fought, even when they had the better of the play in the second half. Gaga came up with a big save from long distance; they were gonna do anything they could tonight to not lose this game and I'm proud of them. That's all I can ask these guys: stay within the game plan, you know our style of play, you know how we're gonna defend, you know how we want to play, you know how I want to go forward. Do that, and we'll be successful in this league because we have a lot of people on my staff that's been around this league a lot and we know what it takes, you know. It's just a matter of us just now finding that consistency and that's the last little bit that we'll have to get. And I think if we get that we'll be fine going forward.” 

On the performances of Jhon Durán and Brian Gutiérrez… 
“Well, I've always said that Durán and Guti, especially, have a high ceiling, a very, very high ceiling. And Jhon is getting an opportunity to play now and he's able to show that. Even though he didn't score last game against Columbus, he had a good performance. Now it’s just getting these guys up to 90-minute match fit because they just haven't been playing much, so they get a little tired in the second half. But you can see what he can do. You know, this guy is a very talented player, he's very fast, very strong. So, he can be a very, very good forward in this league and can score a lot of goals, but he's also developing some parts of his game that obviously he's got to improve. But we like what we see in these young players. And that's why they're on the pitch, because we see it in training; now that they get the opportunity more often, they're producing and that's all you can ask for of the players, it’s to go out and stay within a game plan and execute when they get the opportunity. Those two especially have been really, really good at delivering when called upon.”

On the decision to play Kacper Przybylko over Jhon Durán earlier in the season… 
"Well, Kacper was brought here to start, to be our number one, but for whatever reason, things weren't going well. He's been in a slump and we decided to make the change. But you know, it was his position to lose and some may say he should have lost it earlier. But we can't just put players on the pitch unless they show it in training. For a long time, Durán was catching up to the speed of play in training. So, he was struggling a bit in training, just keeping the focus, just being mentally there within a game, play within the team concept. So that too, was keeping him off the pitch. But we felt like the time was right, a couple of games ago, to make the switch.   

The kid has done well, and I always tell them it's not a name game, it's about performance. If you're not starting, how you do in training will get you minutes on the pitch. And when you get your minutes, if you do well, you stay on the pitch, it doesn't matter who you are, and everyone is held to that standard. And that's how we're going to be competitive as a team, that's how we're going to grow as a team, by making sure everyone is held accountable and do their jobs. We’re a team that, everyone has to play within their roles. Their roles are clearly defined. There's no secrets about how we defend, what you have to do, how we attack, what your roles are when we have the ball; it's just a matter of going out and doing it. And if you do it, you'll stay on the pitch; if you don't, you'll come up with a bench. It’s as simple as that.” 

On getting consistency from the full team… 
“Well, it's not easy, and I spoke about rebuilding, where that consistency is like that last little bit that you need. If you look back at Saturday, we started seven players who were 23 and under; and I think what happened to us in the second half is that a lot of those guys were just never in that situation before or very often. So, once we took that first goal, because up until the 60th minute, we still had control of that game on Saturday – I hate to go back to Saturday, but just to explain about consistency – not being in that situation very often, after we took that first goal, I think a lot of guys kind of shied away. But we weren't gonna let that happen today. 

This team was going to take on my personality, and that's to never say never, that's to never die. Always be determined, always fight. And it's getting there, we're getting better and better, but that consistency is something we have to build on. And that comes in training, how we train, how we train is how we're gonna play. We have to just continue to train hard, work hard, and they'll show up in games. And when we get on teams like this, I would say 12 to 15 points we've thrown away so far this year, hopefully that's changing. And tonight, being able to come back after what happened on Saturday, I'm happy for the players because I know, as a former player, it's not easy when you let your friends down, you let your team down like that, like you did on Saturday, to now come back out three, four days later and have to put up a fight against a team that you know coming in is a good team. And they showed it tonight, that we have what it takes, but it's just a matter of now doing it game in and game out. 

It's upon me as a coach to get that consistency out of them, because the buck stops here, so to speak. You know, I have to get these players to play the way I want them to play and do it for 90 minutes, not just 45; that's the last thing that we're working on. You know, I'm a first-year coach, too, so I'm also learning some things, I'm learning about them. But it's all positive, that locker room right there is positive. We know where we are on the table. We know we don't deserve to be there. We know we deserve to be much higher. And so that helps us stay confident, because it's not easy to stay confident with what has happened so far this year. But I love coaching these guys. These guys are not going to quit and I like that I like that about them.”

On getting similar results in road matches… 
“Well, we're growing, we're getting better. But we have played well on the road also, but just haven't been able to close games out. I can think of two games in particular: the Red Bull away, going up 3-2 in 99th minute and somehow finding a way to lose that game; and last time we played Toronto at their place, 33 shots not on goal, somehow find a way to lose that game 3-2. So, we have played some good games on the road also, we just haven't been able to finish our games. And that's something that we are trying to improve on. But it takes growing as a team and building as a team and just being focused for 90 minutes. Once we get that part of it, we will be fine, we will climb the table. How far we'll get is yet to be seen, but we have to build on every positive game; every positive result we get, we have to build on that. Because in this league, you win two, three games and you're right back in there. You don't need to be first place come September, October; you just need to be seventh or higher in your conference and that's not hard to achieve. You win a couple of games and depending on what happens with the other games, you're right there. So, we just got to keep believing and we have to do it on the road. We have to find some way to do it on the road because just winning our home games is not going to do it for us. We know that, we are aware of that. We know exactly where we are and what we need to get to and it's just about remaining positive and staying together as a team; no detractors, just being focused on what's at hand, and that's making the playoffs. That's all we have to fight for, is getting into the playoffs. And we're going to fight until we are mathematically eliminated. This team will not quit.” 

On the significance of keeping a consistent lineup… 
“Well, the first part about being consistent is being able to put a consistent lineup on the field. And I think it's been twice this year that we went game to game with the same 11. I think after that first DC win early in the season, and then we played Kansas City next, and then in Houston, I think – but I think maybe Wyatt may have been out, so I think maybe just one time we were able to do it – being able to get a consistent 11 on the field would help in our maturation process and what we try to do. But it is what it is, you know; things happen, injuries happen, red cards happen. So in that aspect, it's not easy, when you're changing two players from the from the back four, to keep that consistency. But Boki and Jon we thought, they’re veteran players and we knew we needed to get some veterans on the pitch to help stabilize things a little bit, and that was what went into that decision. And those guys came out and played well tonight, so that was good. So, if we could stay consistent as far as getting a consistent 11, that will also help.”

On the physical play endured by Jhon Durán… 
“As far as Durán getting hit, he's just gonna have to get used to it. You know? I mean, the whole league is watching and from Saturday and what you saw tonight, defenders are going to try to hit him before we get started. Because once he gets started running, there's no catching the guy. I think O'Neill and those guys realized that a little too late and then they started fouling him, but they were able to pick up two yellows so then, now, you can’t play him physical.  

But he's just got to stay mentally tough. Let the ref call the game. Hopefully the ref sees and make the calls. But sometimes a young player like that might not get the calls that another player might get. But it's just a matter of him staying focused and staying within the game and not worry about guys kicking him, letting the refs do their job and then let me get on the ref, I'll yell from the sideline. You see when I come in every day, I'm always hoarse because I'm yelling so much from the sideline. But yeah, it's gonna happen because he's got that kind of pace, he's got that kind of strength and he's that dangerous. I think defenders might start, you know, maybe hitting him early in the game to kind of slow him down, but he's a tough guy, so it'll be fine.” 

On Xherdan Shaqiri’s significance to the team… 
“Well, I think that's a matter of opinion. For me, he's been playing well. You know, Shaq is carrying a little bit of an injury and stuff – it's not an excuse but it's reality – but I thought he's been doing well. Obviously with the injury, we can’t play him 90 minutes for three games in a seven-day period, so we have to manage that. For instance, last Saturday, the plan was to take him out in the 60th, 65th minute. But he wanted to stay in and we let him stay in; as long as he wants to be on the pitch, we'll let them stay on the pitch. But after about the 80th minute or so, they got weary and he didn't want to cause more damage to that injury. 

So, he'll only come off this pitch, with this team, if it’s an injury reason. He's that important to this team. And what he brings to the team, the spaces that he opens up for other people – he's not scoring 10, 12 goals or whatever – but what he does for us, and what it means to this team, it's been very beneficial for us having him here. And we’re happy with him and we hope to have him back on the pitch again on Saturday. But it's not easy for a guy his age to do it, but if there's one guy could do, it is him. He's the ultimate professional, and we're happy to have him and we like what he's been doing for the team.”

Chicago Fire FC Midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri

On the victory…
“It was the most important thing, I think, to bounce back and to show a positive reaction. It was a good win, important win. We have to keep going. Consistency is important in football and these guys have to learn to be consistent. That’s what we have to learn from these games. We hope we can continue now to win more and more games in a row. That means to be consistent and, yeah, it was a good reaction today.” 

On the importance of getting a goal early…
“To be honest, we had a lot of chances to score more than only two. But that’s football. But for me it was more important how we reacted when we got, again, in front two-nil because the last game we saw everybody that we stopped playing. We did, today, more and better, over the whole game and that was the key today that we still stuck to our gameplan that is to 90 minutes, 95 minutes to play good, and that’s what was important today.” 

On what the team spoke about at halftime…
“I talked to the guys, coach did also, that we have to keep going and to stay focused on the game and to stick to our game plan until the end of the game. That was the key today. We didn’t concede, that was also very good. That, defensively, we stay strong and, yeah, two-nil, two-zero, a perfect day for us.” 

On his lingering injury…
“It’s not simple, always, but I want to help this team even if I feel something. I try my best. Now we have a lot of games to play so sometimes you have to bite on your teeth and to play. 

I hope it’s a bit better but we have to play and I try my best at the moment. It’s not simple for me but I try my best.”

On how the team will use the rest of the week to prepare for the upcoming game against Seattle…
“We know Seattle Sounders is a very good team, a lot of experience, they’ve won a lot of titles. They will come with a lot of confidence here and try to grab three points. But as you know, it’s not so simple to play here and a lot of teams have struggled here. For us it’s important to stay consistent, to stay focused, and to try again on Saturday from the beginning to make a good performance, everybody. Then against any team you can grab points so this is our goal, to try to win more games in a row, to go more up in the table and what is our big goal is the playoffs and we need to win a lot of games.”

On his advice to Jhon Durán, who is starting off his career…
“He’s still young and needs to learn, still, a lot. I’m happy for him that he scored today, two good goals. He needs to work hard. I’m happy for him, I hope he can keep going like this. He needs to stay also consistent now and try to stay on his toes and to learn from these games, too, what was not so good. This is important for him, too, to work hard in training and in the games, then, to deliver.”

Chicago Fire FC Forward Jhon Durán

On his first goal of the game and how they planned for it…
“It’s work that we put in during the week, we worked hard on pressuring and attacking the spaces. I think that was more conviction, wanting to score and score goals. For the other part, I'm happy to start scoring again to help the team.”

On the 360 turnaround from Saturday to today, and getting the result…
“That's football. One week you lose, the next you win. And if you lose, you're not the worst. If you win, you're not the best. I think we worked on what we needed to work on and you see it on the field.” 

On his thoughts on not starting earlier in the season…
“It’s a healthy competition that we have on the team. Well it's like waiting for your time, your moment and doing what you know how to do.” 

On his growth as a player since joining the Fire…
“Yeah, one grows and evolves day-to-day, it is always evolving. I'm happy and working so that we can keep having good days.” 

On his personal goals for the rest of the season…
“As any player, we want to be in the finals and work to win the title but that'll come with work.”

On the celebration of his second goal and what he was thinking about…
“I thought about my dad whose birthday is today and dedicating this game to him, and well, you think about your family, how they should be, how they might be feeling in Colombia and basically that was it.” 

On his ankle after taking contact throughout the game…
“My ankle hurts a lot. We have to wait to see what the residency says and recover and see how that works for Saturday.”

Chicago Fire FC Midfielder Brian Gutiérrez

On how he was able to assist teammate Jhon Durán…
“I just tried to do it and it worked out. He made most of the play.” 

On Jhon Durán’s strengths…
“He is always a threat in the back line. He is really good one-on-one and he’s really fast. He’s a really good player, really talented.” 

On the fact that three Homegrown players were in the starting lineup tonight…
“It’s good for us, the Homegrowns, it’s good for Chicago and for the kids looking at us, it's a motivation for them. We just try to do our best and we got the three points.”

On what he saw when pitching his assist to Jhon Duran…
“I just saw him, I knew he was there. He is always a threat to the backline. The first goal, he was kind of in the same place. He runs in behind are really good, so I just did it and it worked out.” 

On his confidence level increasing with more playing time…
“Yeah for sure the confidence is there and it’s getting better. I just want the team to win and to try to do my best for my team.”