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CHGO Fire Notebook: What's Ezra Hendrickson planning for Toronto FC?

Patrick McCraney Avatar
May 26, 2022

If you’re expecting many changes for the Chicago Fire heading into Toronto this weekend, don’t.

“I think tactically we’re going to stay with a 4-2-3-1,” Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson explained. “There will be some personnel change, which is necessary. But we’re just trying to get the team together, to be on the pitch for an extended period of time and for an extended period of games. We haven’t had a chance to sort of put the same lineup out on a consistent basis, and I think once we do that, with the final pieces that we just added, we’ll be better, because if you look at the games, we’re really close. We’re not getting beat 4-0, 5-0 every game. We’re very, very close.”

One change we might see is the addition of Jairo Torres to the starting lineup for the first time. After battling an injury after arriving here from Atlas FC a month ago, Hendrickson has been slowly ramping up Torres’ minutes each game. Saturday, we should finally see the Mexican Young Designated Player start, Hendrickson said.

“There’s a reason why we got him here,” Hendrickson told reporters. “We just haven’t been able to get him on the pitch for an extended period of time. But that will change. Hopefully after this game we’ve got a couple weeks to get him fully healthy where he’s playing every game for 90 minutes.”

Other Injury News

It’s kind of flown under the radar, but the Fire’s backup goalkeeper, Spencer Richey, has been absent the last several matches because of a concussion. Hendrickson said Richey has a few days left on his concussion protocol before he can return.

There’s also good news on team captain Rafael Czichos. He’s still “day-to-day” according to Hendrickson, but “we’re expecting him to be ready for Saturday,” Hendrickson said. If he can’t go for whatever reason, the international break should help Czichos reach full fitness.

Where’s Ivanov?

After starting on the right wing to begin the season, Stanislav Ivanov has dropped well down the depth chart of late. New additions Jairo Torres and Chris Mueller are partly to blame, as is Fabian Herbers recovering from injury.

“Right now we’re in a situation where we feel like we’re putting the best players that we have on the pitch,” Hendrickson said of Ivanov. “He had a bad run of form right before we got the additions, so that didn’t help his cause, but we want to play the guys who are performing, and that goes from what they do in training, also from what they do when they get their opportunities in games.”

Praise for Omsberg

Hendrickson was much higher on Wyatt Omsberg, who’s having a fantastic individual season despite the team’s struggles. Omsberg has played every minute for the Fire this season, which is a shock for a guy who has only been a bench guy for most of his pro career.

“He’s not used to playing this much in his career so far, so that’s something that physically he has to deal with because it’s a different beast when you’re a spot player to now being an every-day, every-week starter,” Hendrickson said of Omsberg. “We have to be careful that we don’t run him into the ground and find ways to give him rest, but as long as he keeps playing the way he’s playing, he’ll continue to play because we’re happy with what he’s been doing, how he’s been playing.”

In case you missed it, Omsberg joined us on the CHGO Fire Podcast this week, and he has thoughts on the team’s best golfer.

You can check out the entire interview here, or download it wherever you get your podcasts.

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