Ezra Hendrickson is after a response from his Chicago Fire side when they face Minnesota United following their shock US Open Cup elimination.
The Fire became the first MLS side to lose to a USL League One club in the competition when going down on penalties in Tuesday’s third-round tie against Union Omaha after a 2-2 draw.
Chicago heavily rotated between last week’s draw with LA Galaxy and Saturday’s trip to Minnesota, with five players making their debuts for the club.
Now back at full strength for the game at Allianz Field, Hendrickson has made clear there cannot be a repeat of the midweek display against Omaha.
“It doesn’t matter who’s on the pitch, I don’t think we displayed Chicago Fire soccer,” he said. “It was not intense enough. We didn’t play fast enough and I felt we were too casual.
“I’m very disappointed with the way we showed up and how we performed and that will not happen again.
“The previous defeat is going to hurt for a while. The mentality was not right and I’m very, very upset about that.”
Not only are Chicago reeling from a cup upset, they are scoreless in three MLS games, collecting just two points from the last nine on offer to slip to seventh in the East.
Next opponents Minnesota are seventh in the West, meanwhile, having won three of their last five league games.
And after scoring multiple goals in a game for the first time this term in last week’s 3-1 win over Colorado Rapids, Adrian Heath hopes his attackers can play with more freedom.
“To get three goals in a game, maybe people want to keep talking about it and then we relax, and start to play again,” he said.
“Defensively our goals against column has been very good the past couple of years. I don’t think that’s a coincidence – the continuity we’ve had is better for everybody.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Minnesota United – Robin Lod
Lod is among a raft of players in line for a recall after being rested for the midweek cup win against Forward Madison and will be hoping to pick up from where he left off.
The Finland international scored one and assisted another against the Rapids last week to end a run of five matches without a direct goal involvement.
Chicago Fire – Gabriel Slonina
A month short of turning 18, Slonina has already earned nine career clean sheets since becoming the youngest starting goalkeeper in MLS history at 17 years and 81 days.
Indeed, the youngster has kept five shutouts in seven league outings this season, most recently keeping LA Galaxy at bay last week.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Minnesota and Chicago have met just four times, with both teams having scored six goals in those meetings. Minnesota won the first two matches, but the Fire have avoided defeat in the most recent two, winning at home in 2019 and drawing 2-2 in Minnesota in 2020.
– The Loons conceded six times in their first seven games this season, with only three teams having conceded fewer so far in 2022. Minnesota had never conceded fewer than 11 goals through the first seven games of a season prior to this year.
– Chicago played their fourth 0-0 draw of the season against the Galaxy last week, with neither team mustering a shot on target. It was just the second game in MLS history (regular season or playoffs) to have zero shots on goal with the other being a scoreless draw between Seattle and Dallas on March 28, 2015.
– Lod’s go-ahead goal on 77 minutes against the Rapids was his 18th regular-season goal since scoring his first in 2020. Half of Lod’s goals have come in the 75th minute or later.
– Chicago goalkeeper Slonina’s nine career clean sheets is the most of any goalkeeper in MLS history prior to turning 21.