Another international break, another injury for Xherdan Shaqiri.
Shaqiri is day-to-day with a minor hamstring strain, Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson said today. The club is monitoring and evaluating the severity, and right now it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to play against D.C. United this Saturday.
“We’ll know more in the next couple days as to how severe that is,” Hendrickson said.
Last time Shaqiri left to play for Switzerland, he came back with a lingering calf injury that kept him out of action for several games.
In other injury news, Hendrickson said Jairo Torres is still nursing that same hip injury he’s had since joining the Fire in early May.
D.C. United visits Soldier Field Saturday
The Fire are expecting more than 20,000 fans at Soldier Field for Saturday’s match, and the weather looks beautiful so that number should continue to grow. The Fire are facing D.C. for the second time this season. The first match, back in March, was a 2-0 win with goals from Stanislav Ivanov and Jonathan Bornstein. Since then D.C. has changed head coaches, with Chad Ashton taking over for Hernan Losada.
“We’re not expecting they’re gonna come here and lay down for us,” Hendrickson said. “It’s gonna be a battle. They need points just like we do.”
The Gaga Saga
It looks like Gaga Slonina will be headed to Stamford Bridge. Fabrizio Romano reported today Chelsea is finalizing an offer worth around $10 million for the 18-year-old star goalkeeper from Addison, Ill. That’s a significant increase over an offer made by Real Madrid.
There’s no official word on the Fire’s end of things–Hendrickson politely declined to answer a question about Slonina’s future today–but it appears the deal is inching closer to completion. Any deal would likely see Slonina loaned back to the Fire, at least through the end of the 2022 MLS season.
Ezra, on Ezra
Through 14 games, the Fire sit dead last in MLS. Even as a first year head coach, this can’t be how Hendrickson thought things would go. He gave an insightful self-evaluation on his successes and failures at Wednesday’s news conference:
“We knew it would take awhile, that some patience would be needed,” Hendrickson said of his performance as head coach thus far. “I’m still kind of learning on the job, even though I’ve been an assistant coach for a number of years. When you’re making that final decision, things become a little different, there’s a little more pressure.
“All that being said, I think I’ve handled it well. It’s not easy, especially when you’re not getting the job done, not so much tactically, but the mistakes being made. Ultimately, as a head coach, you’re responsible for an ill-advised foul in the box, or an ill-advised two yellow red card. Things like that, I take responsibility for that, because it’s my job to make sure the guys stay disciplined. When we make mistakes that hurt the team, that ultimately comes down to me. I think in that aspect, I need to improve.”
Undisciplined play has certainly hurt the Fire big-time this season, and is among the biggest reasons for the poor start. That will need to change if they want to dig themselves out of this hole.
CHGO Fire Podcast
Make sure you check out the latest edition of the CHGO Fire Podcast. Alex and I talk about the Apple TV deal and how it affects the Fire, the Gaga to West London report (remember, Alex is. a huge Chelsea fan, so this affects him on both ends), and our predictions for D.C. United.
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