Ezra Hendrickson faces his old side in MLS with his Chicago Fire hosting Seattle Sounders, where he thinks his six-season spell provided him to succeed in his first year as coach.
The Fire moved within six points of the Eastern Conference playoff spots, having endured a topsy-turvy 2022 campaign thus far.
Chicago were 2-0 victors in their last outing against Toronto FC and Hendrickson is looking former to facing the Sounders, who he credited for developing his coaching experience.
“I think the main difference is I was going in as an assistant coach, and now I came here as a head coach,” he said. “That in itself brings on a little bit more responsibility, a little bit more pressure.”
“I learned a lot about what it takes to manage players and make sure everyone, not just the starters, continue to buy in to what you’re trying to do.
“Here, my first year in Chicago, a lot of that has been needed because it has not been very easy.
“You really, really have to work on the mental part of it where you’re telling the guy to trust in you, what you’re saying, asking him to do, and eventually, you’ll be successful.”
The Sounders are just one point away from the Western Conference playoff places, but Brian Schmetzer wants more from his side after defeat to Nashville SC.
“We can’t lose the ball in that area of the field and our active defending has to be better,” coach Schmetzer said.
“If a team comes out and beats us fair and square, that’s one thing. But I hate losing when you give away goals that, in my opinion, are preventable.
“You have to be able to keep a clean sheet, (against Nashville) weren’t able to do that.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Chicago Fire – Jhon Duran
Inexperienced rookie Jhon Duran has impressed for the Fire up top recently, scoring a brace in his last game after a pair of assists in his two games before that.
Seattle Sounders – Jordan Morris
Jordan Morris continues to be a threat on the wing for the Sounders, sitting as Seattle’s joint-top MLS scorer along with Raul Ruidiaz (both five).
KEY OPTA FACTS
·Chicago has won only three of its 16 all-time MLS matches against the Sounders (D4 L9), though one of those wins came in the last meeting between the sides, at MLS is Back in 2020. All three of the Fire’s wins over the Sounders have come in the last four meetings outside of Seattle (including Orlando for MLSIB).
·The Fire have won three of their last four home MLS matches (L1) following a 2-0 win over Toronto on Wednesday. The clean sheet was Chicago’s 11th in its last 17 league matches at Soldier Field.
·The Sounders have lost three of their last four matches (W1) including the last two in a row. Seattle has now lost nine times this season, having only suffered more defeats in its first 19 matches of a season once in the club’s MLS history (11 in 2016).
·Jhon Duran scored both of the Fire’s goals in their 2-0 win over Toronto on Wednesday after having scored just once in his first 13 MLS appearances. Durán’s brace is the first multi-goal match for the Fire since Kacper Przybylko scored two against Kansas City in March.
·The Sounders have failed to score in each of their last two MLS matches. Seattle hasn’t gone three straight matches in a single season without scoring since May-June 2018.