Jhon Kennedy Hurtado says Fire "need more concentration" in defense

Hurtado says defense has played well but need to eliminate set piece goals to improve

BRIDGEVIEW, Il. - Chicago Fire center back Jhon Kennedy Hurtado believes he and his defensive teammates need to improve their concentration as the Fire seek their first clean sheet and maiden victory when the Philadelphia Union visit Toyota Park this Saturday, (3:30 pm CT My50/TWCSC Wisconsin/La Ley 107.9FM).

The Colombian, who is just four games into his Fire career after more than 100 appearances for the Seattle Sounders, has been a key figure in a Fire defense that has conceded seven goals thus far.

But that does not concern Hurtado, who has impressed with some timely blocks, interceptions and clearances this campaign, while he has also shown his prowess in front of goal, opening the scoring in the 2-2 tie at DC United on Sunday with a powerful header. 

“Everything is going great,” said the six foot tall defender ahead of practice at Toyota Park on Tuesday. “I know we haven’t kept a clean sheet but we have improved our defensive shape over the last couple of games.

“The goals against us have come from free kicks, penalty kicks, and balls bouncing around our box that we failed to make a clearance. I think overall we are defending well, but we need a bit more concentration.”

The 29-year-old has established a formidable partnership with Bakary Soumare at the heart of the Fire defense, and Hurtado acknowledged: “He is fantastic, great! He is a really good player with great experience, has played in Europe and here in Chicago for many, many years and I think we are doing a great job together.”

Lovel Palmer and Gonzalo Segares began the season in the full-back positions, but between suspension and injury, head coach Frank Yallop has relied on Greg Cochrane and Matt Watson in their absence.

However, Hurtado doesn’t believe that has played a role in the team’s inability to keep a clean sheet, and insisted: “The team has not been affected because everybody is working from the same page. Everybody is working for Frank’s objectives, to win games and gain qualification for the playoffs. We have really good players with great capacity so it has not been a problem.”

And Hurtado is confident the Fire can continue their improvement in their second home clash of the season and claim their first three points against the Union on Saturday.

“Every single time we prepare for a game we prepare to win,” he revealed. “Philadelphia are a really good team and they’ve shown that in a couple of games this season, but our capacity, our mentality, positivity and faith will hopefully see us get our first win.”

Tickets for Saturday's match vs. Philadelphia Union are still available by clicking here.