Chicago Fire FC head coach Raphael Wicky and midfielders Luka Stojanović and Fabian Herbers deliver their thoughts on the team's performance in Sunday's 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls at Soldier Field. Stojanović powered the Fire attack with two goals in the game's opening eight minutes to help secure the victory at home.

Up next, the Fire complete their three-match homestand next Sunday, Aug. 15, against Columbus Crew SC (TICKETS).

Chicago Fire FC Quotes

Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Raphael Wicky

On the defensive effort from the team…
“Yeah, it’s true. I think we’re defending pretty well right now. We already had against Atlanta here good defense as well, Orlando, but these last three games were very compact, very, very hard to break down and I think that’s the base. I am happy about that. I think everyone gets to know more and more about his role in the way we play. I think the team is picking up the right moments when to press a bit higher, more aggressive, and then to be a little bit more compact. So, yeah, I am pretty happy about that.”

On the performance from Luka Stojanović…
Yeah, I mean he definitely showed that we can count on him and that he’s there. So, if the player performs like that and then has a good week in training, then I don’t see a reason why he should not keep getting minutes. The reason why he didn’t play, without going into many details, it’s always the question of finding the right balance, who is playing together, who brings what to the team against which team. That’s a little bit what a coach normally looks at when he puts a team together - what is the right balance. That’s what we need to find and I think today with those three players - with Fabi (Fabian Herbers), Luka and Gastón (Giménez), there’s a good balance of a little bit of everything. And I am happy that Luka played 90 minutes. The way he worked for the team. Obviously I am very happy with the goals he scored, that’s his quality in the final third. That’s a great performance from him.

On the type of player Przemysław Frankowski was for the Club…
“I mean Frankie was a great player, or is a great player with a lot of strengths. He’s very, very fast; he can play multiple positions like you have seen - winger, right or left, he can be in the system we play here, he can play second striker, he can play the eight, he can play wingback. Very versatile and brings a lot on both sides. And yeah, that’s what he did here for about two and a half years. His performances here and also at the Euro helped him to go to one of the top-five leagues in the world which I am very happy for him, personally. As a coach obviously you don’t want to lose your players, but I know this is the game and I am happy for him personally. There are certain things I think you can’t deny players when you have the opportunity to go to a top-five league, then I think you have to accept and understand that the player wants to go there. And on the other side it’s an opportunity for other players now to step up and step in and get more minutes.” 

On the injury and update for Carlos Terán…
“I think, as far as I know, it was cramps. I hope it was only cramps and nothing more. Carlos obviously had a strong performance. Obviously he was out for a very long time, so we expected him to play only about 60 minutes, that was the plan. The hope was that he didn’t have to cramp, but yeah, anyway that was the plan. We have to bring him back slowly to the team.” 

On the three-back system leading to the improvement of the team…
“I believe that changing into a back three has given this team a little bit more stability, a little bit more balance between the attacking and the defending. I usually am not a big believer in systems because you have a system or a shape when you don’t have the ball, when you defend you have a different shape than when you attack, you have rotations. I think going into that gave this team and gives this team a little bit more balance right now, yes. 

On the other side, we have scored a lot of goals with this shape as well. So yeah, I am happy the team is performing well under this. But I also know if we have to go back into a back-four the team can do that.” 

On the absence of Álvaro Medrán…
“No, he’s under the health and safety protocol. I can’t go into any more details. What I can tell you is that the whole team and the whole staff is vaccinated. We are fully vaccinated as a full team with staff and players.” 

On the last goal and if he thinks there needs to be improvement there…
“I think overall it was a very good defensive performance. They had one shot on target over 96 minutes and then the last shot, which was a free kick, they had the rebound. Francisco (Calvo) knows and we spoke and the team knows we have to do better on this rebound. When the goalkeeper gets a shot, there is a rebound often and we have to be there. But in general, I think it was a very strong defensive performance where we didn’t give up much. Yeah, we don’t like to concede a goal. It would be nice to be 2-0, we like clean sheets, but at the end of the day it is three points which are important. I think the whole defensive performance was very strong.”  

How late was the decision with Álvaro Medrán…
“This was today; this morning.”

On the timeframe for new signing Federico Navarro to join the team... 
“No, I am the wrong person to ask that right now. There’s always a visa process and stuff and I don’t know how long that will take. Obviously we hope that it won’t take too long, but out of experience, I guess it’s normally a couple weeks. But now with COVID and all the changes in every country, I don’t really know how long it is. Right now I am very, very focused on the players we have and working with them. I’m excited when Navarro comes and then we will integrate him into the team and give him time to get to know the way we play and the way this team plays.”

On the decision of having two goalkeepers on the bench…
“The only reason is we had an open spot. We only had 19 spots filled and we said, okay let’s give Chris Brady another experience to be on the bench, to experience the stadium, to experience there. And if really, really worst case scenario would have happened, we’d have another goalie there. But that very rarely ever happens, but it’s just why not just fill in that spot and give it to a young player to make this experience.” 

Chicago Fire FC Midfielder Luka Stojanović

On scoring two goals in tonight’s victory…
“I feel fantastic, especially because we started the game with a goal. And I think we changed the game at that moment on our side. I believe that these two goals helped the team win these three points.”

On not playing, and what he wanted to prove to himself and his teammates…
“Yeah exactly, I was out for some games. And this was a coach decision that I don't want to go on that because I work hard every day. And I will enjoy this time now and I think I proved myself to me also, to all staff, and all my teammates that have played. And this is the best way to look (forward). I cannot look back, I know I was on the bench, sometimes I didn't even come in, but that's soccer so I have to go forward. This is the best way, today, to show to people that they can believe in me.”

On the importance of getting goals early in the game…
“Yeah, exactly. I think against this opponent, who like the long pass, they don't give a lot of chances to shoot. They do not give a lot of opportunities in their box. I think this was the best way to break the line, to shoot from distance. That’s what I did, and I think this changed the game. From my side, I think we get more motivation, we get focused more on them, in order to see our goal, but the most important is three points.”

On how their last match against the Red Bulls prepared them for today…
“Yeah, I think this game we've been led a lot from behind. And we know what to expect from them. The team has a lot of high pressing on their defensive line. And I think this game today, maybe we changed it a bit. We tried to use our strikers to keep the ball, to win the duels and also we gave them second balls, and third balls, and I believe that we were much stronger and harder on our duels today and that's why I believe it was 2-0 until the end.”

On what this season has been like for him…
“Yeah, I started this season really, really well with the goals. Probably, how I see, maybe this system, that we changed, I don’t even remember now, but I believe that when we change the system, we win two games at home. It's difficult to put all the players in, you have to find their place, but in the best way. The best way is when you get your opportunity, to do the best and try to get to the result and I believe from my side, I know I was out of these games, I say again, but this night today, I hope it will change everything in a better way. And I hope we can also be much more aggressive and score more goals in away games.”

Chicago Fire FC Midfielder Fabian Herbers

On a string of strong defensive performances…
"I would say at the Philly game, as well, so three games in a row we have two ties. We didn't give up a lot. In Philly, we played 60 minutes with a man down. Against NYCFC, a good offensive team, limiting them to (not) a lot of chances, although they scored a lot of goals in the past games. And then today as well, I thought the game went well, went in our favor obviously, scored early with Luka and right away (getting) another one. First half wasn't the best game soccer-wise but I feel like we grinded it out, we limited them to chances, they had a couple here and there but didn't really give up a ton. So, really proud of the group, how we handled it. Thought, yeah, 90 minutes, we put in a real shift. Second half, we had the game under control. Still not happy that we, at the end, give up a goal still - we had 95 minutes under control and then in the 96th minute, we still give up a goal because we didn't follow up the shot. We should be better there, just be 96-minutes focused, not just 95, that's what it all comes down to. But proud of the group and happy that we got away with three points." 

On the difficulty of playing the New York Red Bulls…
"Like you said, Red Bulls, you always know what you're expecting, you have to put the fight in, you have to put in a shift and I feel like we were ready for that from the first whistle. I thought we were good in the duels. Obviously, it helps when you score two early goals. Luka scored a first amazing goal and the second one as well. You know, when we had the long throw with Carlos, that was also something we talked about tactically, that we want to take advantage of that. Every long throw he has is kind of like a corner kick so that helped, obviously, and that worked out for us as well. Leading 2-0 helped us and then it's an ugly game, it's just running it out and we did that, we put in a shift in a lot of heat here today; first half was really hot, second half luckily it rained a little bit, you know, made it a little easier to run and fight for it. But yeah, really proud of the group to beat a strong Red Bull team." 

On closing out games…
"Yeah, it's hugely important, I think. I feel like the more mature teams, they know how to grind out those games. They know when you don't have the best game soccer-wise, they know how to get points. I remember the game against DC, we were up 2-0 in the 80th minute and then still gave it up 2-2, and I feel like we had it last season a couple times, as well, where we were up 2-0 and still gave it up a little bit. But the trajectory is very important, that we mature as a team, that we don't give up goals. I'm still a little bit annoyed that we gave up that one goal at the end but we should go home here with a 2-0 win and a very mature performance and I think the guys did so. Really proud of the guys that came in as well, to mention Luka, hasn't gotten regular minutes; Elliott Collier has put in a shift and a lot of guys contributing that haven't gotten a lot of minutes recently, so really proud of them as well."

On the departure of Przemyslaw Frankowski and addition of Federico Navarro…
"Obviously Frankie, a good guy, good person as well, a (good) soccer player obviously. As you guys know, he's a player that's really fast and shifty and really that quickness you can't teach. He has a talent born to him. I thought he had three great, almost three great years here in Chicago. Obviously sad that he's left but we have to keep moving on as a team. Navarro, I don't really know him. I've never seen a game of him. Obviously, a defensive midfielder, I believe. Hope he can contribute to the team, hope he can give us some stability but I haven't seen him yet so I can't really comment too much on it."

On the importance of earning points at home…
"Yeah, of course it's important. I feel like we've left some points even at home in the past so I feel like it's important that we collect them now. Three points are important that we keep them at home, especially in this league; I don't know what it is but it's just a huge favor when you play at home, especially with the history of Chicago Fire as well, we are struggling on the road. I mean, to be able to make the playoffs, we have to push on the road as well. We have to get points on the road, we have to mature on the road, we have to play dirty and keep points there as well. But obviously, playing at home is always better, love the atmosphere, love the fans; today was great I thought, they pushed us until the last minute. So I'm happy to play at home, but again, we have to get points on the road as well."

On conceding possession but still managing to win…
"It's hard to answer, but usually when you're leading, I think the other team pushes more. They tend to push more and that's why they have more of the ball. When we're down, we want to push more and they sit back a little bit. I feel like that may be part of it. I feel like today was a reflection of it, you know, we were good. In the beginning, it was 50/50, I feel like there were a lot of duels. And then we score the two goals and then we sit back a little bit, you know. Obviously we don't want to give up a goal and that's why the other team maybe possessed the ball a little bit more, that would be an explanation. But I don't know."