Egg or potato? Coach Ezra Hendrickson wants Fire to harden under pressure

Entering the game Saturday against the New York Red Bulls at Soldier Field, the Fire are 2-2-4 but have turned victories into ties, and now ties into losses. To avoid doing that again, Hendrickson stressed the Fire need to act like an egg.

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Ezra Hendrickson and the Fire host the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night.

Ezra Hendrickson and the Fire host the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night.

Courtesy of the Fire

For the Fire to succeed when matches come to a boil, coach Ezra Hendrickson said his players must react like eggs.

“One of the things we tell them is when you get in pressure situations like this, think of an egg and a potato,” Hendrickson said. “Same boiling water, the egg becomes hardened and the potato becomes soft. What are you going to be, are you going to be an egg or a potato?”

Hendrickson was speaking after the Fire’s 2-1 loss Sunday at Atlanta United, when they tied the match in the 90th minute but allowed the game-winning goal in the waning moments of second-half stoppage time off a corner kick when the ball ricocheted off the back of Maren Haile-Selassie and past goalkeeper Chris Brady into the net. Once again, the Fire left a game with egg on their faces instead of the points they could have earned.

Entering the game Saturday against the New York Red Bulls at Soldier Field, the Fire are 2-2-4 (10 points) but have turned victories into ties, and now ties into losses. To avoid doing that again, Hendrickson stressed the Fire need to act like an egg.

“We have to learn to take the positive, egg side of things and be hard when things get rough, and especially on the road like [Sunday] — can we find a way to come out with that point?’’ Hendrickson said. ‘‘[Sunday], we were not able to, but we’re getting better and that’s something that I am happy to see that the players are grasping what we are trying to do and they are doing what we are trying to teach them in training.”

Food analogies aside, Hendrickson is encouraged by the Fire’s play. And he’s not concerned about keeping the Fire optimistic, even though the results might not have matched their performances. Obviously, it’s not a positive to drop points, but the Fire are putting themselves in strong positions.

The next step is to avoid the late miscues and convert those chances.

“Well, it’s easy when you know that deep down you’re playing good [soccer], and I think the guys are playing well,” Hendrickson said. “They are putting a lot of effort in, and we’re just getting some bad breaks. That last goal [Sunday] hits our guy in the back and goes in the goal. Because of the way we are playing and the results that we have gotten and have not always been what we expected, but the [soccer] is good.”

Midfielder Brian Gutierrez echoed Hendrickson and is eager to fix the problems that have stung the Fire late.

“I feel like we just have to move on,” Gutierrez said. “There’s a ton of games left in the season. It’s a long season, and I think we’ve just got to look forward and look at the tape, see what’s wrong, see what we need to do in order to be successful and try to get your head up and move forward because the season is long and anything could happen.”

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