CHICAGO – Just when it appeared they were about to get a little momentum, it went away over the course of two hours on Sunday.
It played out as it has before for Chicago Fire FC, with chances to score missed early and then the opponent capitalizing on their own. San Jose struck for two in the second half, and by the time the Fire got on the board, it was too late.
A 2-1 loss to a struggling Earthquakes club came after Ezra Hendrickson’s team had scored their biggest win of the season the Wednesday before – a 1-0 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Union at Soldier Field. Instead of moving closer to getting back in the playoff conversation, the Fire are now back tied for last in the conference with 17 points.
“It’s not easy. It’s a difficult task because there are some emotions that go along with those situations, those scenarios that you speak of,” said manager Ezra Hendrickson of the up-and-down-week. “We just have to keep calm, we just have to keep confident and continue to believe in what it is that we’re doing. It’s something that we know that wasn’t going to happen overnight but as long as we’re seeing progress we have to continue to remain confident in that.
“The players are confident. We know that some of these games that we’re losing, we’re right there.”
A chance to get things on track starts Saturday against Hendrickson’s former team, the Columbus Crew, at Soldier Field at 7 PM, a match that you can see on WGN-TV, Channel 9. It’s the first of three-straight home matches for the club that includes a Wednesday contest with Toronto then next Saturday against Seattle.
“I think the overall goal or overall mentality of this team is that at home we want to make Soldier Field our fortress, so anyone who comes in can feel that we are going to defend our fortress to the very end,” said defender Jonathan Bornstein. “That also means we need to win at home and get the points every single time.”
Doing so will be essential for the club to have any shot to climb back into the playoff race after what’s been a slow three months after a promising start. Hendrickson has said often that the club is close but the key is to finish chances on the offensive end, which hasn’t been there for the club most of the season.
The had six quality chances on goal against San Jose, with a number of them in the in the first half, but the couldn’t convert till late in stoppage time when the result was already decided.
“It’s confidence, guys. You gain confidence by repetition. It’s a lot of putting them in a lot of situations that they face in the games, in training,” said Hendrickson on how the team can work on finishing those chances. “Obviously when you have three games in eight days, there’s not much shooting you can do but as much as we can do with the guidelines of the high-performance staff we are going to be focusing a lot on, not just straight-up shooting, but build-up into the shooting, putting guys in 1v1s situations.”