Chicago Fire boss Ezra Hendrickson has admitted that he would love to be able to help pave the way for more coaches from a minority background in MLS, as he prepares his side to welcome Toronto FC from across the border this week.
The former Columbus Crew assistant is just one of a handful of Black coaches in the competition, having taken the step up to the top managerial hotseat at the start of this season.
It has been a hard first campaign at the helm for the former defender, a three-time MLS Cup winner during his playing days, but Hendrickson hopes his steps will serve as an inspiration for others who hope to pursue the profession down the line.
“If I could inspire the next minority coach out there to have confidence and have belief, continue to believe that their aspirations will one day be true, I think that’s a good job,” he stated.
“That comes with a bit of pressure because you do have to be successful because that in itself will help.
“You really, really have to work on the mental part of it where you’re telling the guy to trust in you, what you’re saying, asking him to do, and eventually, you’ll be successful.”
Opposite number Bob Bradley meanwhile has been discussing the need to balance both youth and experience within his side, as he seeks to stabilize Toronto’s fortunes.
“The first half of the season was always going to be (an) opportunity for young players, which has been the case,” he stated. “And we’ve seen some good things, we’ve seen some things that still need improvement. That’s normal.
“And then from there, we assess and look at options and figure out how we want to move forward.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Chicago – Wyatt Omsberg
The defender has possibly been one of the Fire’s unsung performers this term, and his way with an interception has been crucial. He has picked off 27 of this term – a club-best number.
Toronto – Jesus Jimenez
With eight goals to his name, the attacker was an early shout for the Golden Boot this season – and though he is now trailing the leaders by a few finishes, a good game would put him right back in contention.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Toronto FC beat the Fire, 3-2, on May 28 to extend its unbeaten run against Chicago to 14 games (W11 D3) dating back to September 2015. No team has ever gone 15 straight regular season meetings against a single opponent without losing.
– The Fire lost for the ninth time in their last 12 MLS matches (W2 D1) on Saturday, falling, 3-2, to the Crew after scoring the opening two goals of the game. It was just the second time in club history that the Fire lost a home match in which they led by two goals at halftime (3-2 loss to RSL in May 2014).
– Toronto FC conceded a late equalizer in a 2-2 draw with San Jose on Saturday. The Reds have now allowed a goal in 27 consecutive MLS matches, one shy of equaling the fourth-longest regular season streak in league history (Vancouver 2018-19, Miami Fusion 1998-99).
– The Fire built their two-goal lead against the Crew on goals by Rafael Czichos and Chris Mueller in the first half. It marked the first time Chicago scored two goals before halftime in an MLS match since last October and the first time at home since last August.
– Jonathan Osorio scored Toronto’s second goal against San Jose on Saturday, his fifth goal of the season. Osorio has only scored more regular season goals once in his 10 MLS campaigns, netting 10 in 2018, while his six goals against the Fire are the most he’s scored against any opponent in his MLS career.