Chicago Fire FC are back in the MLS Playoff fight.
The team’s 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps boosted their Eastern Conference standings to ninth, putting them just two points behind a top seven slot.
Chicago head coach Ezra Hendrickson hailed the team for their efforts, labeling the victory “one of the bigger wins” of the 2022 Major League Soccer campaign.
“It’s a very big win for us, probably one of the bigger wins that we’ve had this year,” said Hendrickson. “Even when the game was tied 1-1 in the second half, I had no doubt that we were going to win the game. Just because we were playing so well, and I knew that eventually we’ll get the goals that we needed.”
Chicago’s triumph over the Whitecaps marked just their second road victory this year, and seventh overall. The Western Conference team saw a turbulent start to their season, winning just two games in their first 10 matches.
Despite the addition of European figure Xherdan Shaqiri, the Fire fell to last place on the table for several consecutive wins. But the team reversed their fate on July 13, kicking off their three-match winning streak to climb the Eastern Conference standings.
“It’s just good to be back in that playoff hunt,” Hendrickson said. “That’s where we wanted to be all along the entire year and we’re happy we’re here. As I told them just now, we have to continue to do this. Don’t become complacent.”
Chicago Fire players echoed their coach’s sentiment, expressing excitement at the prospect of reaching the playoffs.
“Man, it’s all about belief in yourself and every player has to stay confident and to try to work hard, first of all, in training, and to learn from mistakes,” Shaqiri added. “The players, their understanding is much better than before.”
The team’s Designated Player played a huge part in the road win over the Whitecaps, scoring in the 13th minute to gain the lead before Rafael Czichos and Chris Mueller added tallies.
“The guys are buzzing, man,” said Mueller.
The team must keep up the momentum to break into the top seven, but it won’t be easy. The Fire return to action on Saturday, when hosting Atlanta United at Soldier Field. Despite Atlanta’s recent downfall, the team continues to boast a lethal attack that should not be underestimated.