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Chicago Fire FC: Talking Points from Ezra Hendrickson’s Press Conference

Ezra Hendrickson spoke with the press last week. Here are some of the main talking points.

Ezra Hendrickson Chicago Fire FC
Photo: Chicago Fire FC

Chicago Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson spoke to the press last week. The first-time head coach was in Orlando as he leads this Fire squad through preseason.

On Tap Sports Net was at the virtual press conference and put together the biggest talking points. Here they are, in no particular order.

Fire Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

Before last week’s trade for Kacper Przybylko, the Fire’s focus had been placed on improving the team’s defense. The major signing to that point was the acquisition of defender Rafael Czichos and all four SuperDraft picks were defenders.

So, when On Tap asked if the club’s focus was going to switch to the attack, Hendrickson’s answer was as clear as can be.

“We’ve stacked up on a lot of defenders and our focus is to now complement that with some attacking players,” Hendrickson said. “Hopefully we cross that line with these players that we are looking at shortly.”

The Fire did cross that line with the signing of Kacper Przybylko. The Fire now have a goal scorer that is proven at the MLS level. On top of that, Przybylko does not take up a Designated Player spot.

It is important to realize, however, that while the Przybylko signing was a sign of progress, the attack still needs to be bolstered.

Bornstein Should be Captain

Hendrickson did not mince words during his introductory press conference when On Tap asked what he thought needed improving as the club headed into 2022.

“Sometimes you need leadership and you need someone to kind of help to bring in those players along, sort of an extension of the coaching staff,” Hendrickson said. “I think maybe some leadership, some issues that might need fixing as far as in the locker room.”

In the same press conference, Hendrickson accidentally referred to Jonathan Bornstein returning to the club when discussing leadership, something the club confirmed with an official re-signing a few days later.

Hendrickson would not commit to who will be the team captain in 2022 this past week. While that should be a team decision, Jonathan Bornstein should be the club’s captain in 2022. He is a fan favorite, loved and admired by his teammates, and leads by example. There is a reason why the Fire brought him back.

Honest Growing Pains

One of the things that has struck me so far in limited conversation with Hendrickson is his candor. He has been blunt, too the point, and has not beat around the proverbial bush.

In his introductory press conference, Hendrickson admitted there would be growing pians in 2022. He used the phrase three different times throughout the entire press conference and continued doing so this past week.

“We have a lot of good players but they are very young, inexperienced players. So when I talk about growing pains, it’s just, you know how it is with young players, sometimes very talented but the curve is up and down. The consistency is not there.”

Hendrickson seems to be taking an approach that places focus on the development on young players. That is great and, quite honestly, necessary for a club like the Fire. Chicago is a hotbed of talent and local, homegrown players should be given a high priority.

However, the club needs to try and make the playoffs this season. Or at least be competitive. You can’t do that with a bunch of young players, especially ones who are inconsistent. The Fire must continue to try to acquire players like Kacper Przybylko who can make an impact now.

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