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Ezra Hendrickson on the Chicago Fire’s incoming signings, opening training sessions, and more

Here are six things we learned from the Fire’s new boss

Ezra Hendrickson
Chicago Fire

New Chicago Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson met with reporters Wednesday. as he spends his first few days in training camp with the team in Orlando.

Let’s dive right in to what we’ve learned:

Hendrickson is being patient when it comes to new signings

“Well, we have ongoing conversations with prospective players and are their prospective clubs and these are situations that we hope to get across the line as quickly as possible, as soon as possible.

“So we are being patient, but we are starting with the players that we have in camp right now and it’s been a good first couple days. But we are looking forward to adding some pieces, certainly.”

On that front, he’s not talking about a rumored deal with the Philadelphia Union’s Kacper Przybylko

“Przybylko is contracted to the Union, the Philadelphia Union at this point. He’s a Philadelphia Union player. Beyond that I can’t really speak much on that situation.

“But like I said we are constantly looking for players that we think can come into the team and help us be successful. But as far as going into details of anything like that, I really can’t speak about a player that belongs to another club at this point.”

Who’s the Fire’s new captain? Bornstein? Czichos? Someone else?

“That’s up for discussion right now. That’s something that we’ll decide maybe a week leading up to the first game but it’s open right now. There’s no set captain at this point. I like to look and see how guys are interacting with each other and who really steps up as the leader for the team, you know, on and off the field.

“So that’s something that we’re going to be patient about naming, but we have some leaders on this team that, you know, whoever it is that we do choose, I think we will be fine.”

Hendrickson refuses to mess around with COVID-19

“We’ve said to the players that how we deal with COVID- yes, the MLS has league-wide protocols and stuff like that that each team has to follow- but if we can go beyond that and be more strict and more vigilant on how we deal with this thing, it could become a competitive advantage, you know.

“We want to be one of the teams that have the least amount of COVID situations going into a game because if you are losing players, especially key players for games due to this thing, it becomes a competitive disadvantage for you.

“We are doing our best. All the players are vaccinated and making sure we’re testing and we’re going beyond the baseline MLS protocols to make sure this thing doesn’t affect us too much.”

After spending decades in MLS as a player and assistant, Hendrickson said walking out on the training pitch as a head coach was special

“For me it was just a lot of excitement. I was really excited to get started because I was hired back in November. And so now there’s a two-month wait and now we’ve started and walking on to that pitch was excitement, and just being able to teach these guys and talk to them about what this session was going to be about and then to see them going out and performing, executing it during the session.

“For me, it was just excitement and I’m happy to be a part of this organization, be with this team, help these young players develop and help this organization become successful.”

And finally, here’s why Hendrickson decided to give a huge, $1,050 donation to the #FireForFood Drive

“I’m a person that came from very humble beginnings and I remember growing up in the Caribbean there were times where I came home from school and maybe didn’t have food or anything to eat.

“So things like this are close to my heart and so any time I can help a family eat or help, or an organization to help other families, I’m all for that. I think as a Cub, as an organization, being involved in the community and helping fans or people who may not even be fans but just helping someone who might not have the ability to provide food on their table, I think that’s very awesome and that’s something that, like I said, is very dear to my heart and something that I’ll always want to help out. Different charities, it doesn’t have to be just food drives.

“It can be a lot of organizations, organizations that the Club is involved with and connected with. I’ll be sure throughout the year to be involved in some things and help out. You know, going into the inner cities, speaking to people, whatever it takes to just make sure that this Club is seen in this community as a big part of the community, and that our fans appreciate what it is that we’re trying to do with our community, with our fans. That’s something that we are going to continue to do with this organization.”