Chris Brady’s resilience a positive sign for Fire

Last Saturday, Brady recovered from an error to make two crucial saves and preserve a win.

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Chris Brady saved a Fire victory with two late saves last week against Minnesota.

Courtesy of the Fire

With the Fire leading 2-0 in the 57th minute of last Saturday’s match, Minnesota United’s Kervin Arriaga’s free kick hit goalkeeper Chris Brady in the hands. Instead of easily controlling what looked like a harmless shot, Brady let the ball escape his grasp and trickle into the net.

How Brady handled that moment helped preserve a 2-1 win, and showed why the Fire chose him to succeed Gabriel Slonina in net.

Less than 30 minutes after his gaffe, Brady was heavily tested. Minnesota – which entered the game unbeaten – was pushing for an equalizer against a Fire team that has struggled to hold leads. In the face of pressure, Brady made a pair of strong 86th-minute stops, denying Hassani Dotson’s header and then a close-range try from Bongokuhle Hlongwane.

Brady’s performance in crunch time showed he can shrug off an error and mentally stay in a game.

“You look at the clock and see that there’s 30-plus minutes left in the game, so you have to figure out a way to set aside the mistake,” Brady said. “It happens and obviously that one’s on me. And I take full responsibility for that but like I said, there were still 30 minutes left in the game to finish out and I think us as a defense and as a team, collectively, we did that really well.”

Since Brady is just 19, the Fire knew when they named him the starter there would be some bumps. Brady had already experienced one March 11 at Philadelphia, when he let an innocuous 90th-minute shot get through for a Union game-winner.

In that game, Brady didn’t have time to redeem himself. He did against Minnesota last week, proving his resilience less than an hour after making what could have been a crushing blunder.

“I would just say you need a lot of mental fortitude,” Brady said. “It takes a decent amount of strength but I’m not here to toot my own horn. Like I said, that’s a mistake that I made. One that you guys will never see again. And yeah, just like I said, we’re a team. We make mistakes as a team and we win as a team. So yeah, it was just all focused on the need to win this game.”

Thanks to that win, the Fire (2-1-3, 9 points) moved to sixth in the Eastern Conference. They’re unbeaten in their last four matches, and have actual momentum going into Saturday’s game at Soldier Field against the Union (2-4-1, 7 points).

They wouldn’t have that momentum if not for Brady bouncing back and showing a maturity beyond his years while playing a position where mistakes are magnified. Coach Ezra Hendrickson, who faced similar hurdles last year with Slonina, was impressed by how quickly Brady moved on from the ugly goal he allowed.

“He’s getting better every day, every week,” Hendrickson said. “But his mentality to be able to just put that past him and forget what happened, and finish out the game strong, was very good. And that’s a sign of a good young ’keeper that’s growing and is only going to get better.”

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