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Brian Gutierrez Chicago Fire 2023Getty Images

'They really wanted to go' - Chicago Fire will prevent USMNT prospects Brian Gutierrez and Chris Brady from attending U20 World Cup

  • Players want to go to U20 tournament
  • Two of Fire's best youngsters
  • Chicago unwilling to let them miss MLS games

WHAT HAPPENED? Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson said there were extensive internal discussions about whether to let Gutierrez and Brady attend the competition later this month, but they determined the cost to the club wasn't worth fulfilling the players' wishes.

Gutierrez is a standout midfielder, while Brady is one of America's most promising goalkeepers. The two 19-year-olds have big U.S. men's national team ambitions.

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WHAT THEY SAID: "We will not be releasing those two players, we discussed it at length," Hendrickson said, according to Tom Bogert.

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“They really wanted to go, and they expressed that. We didn’t want to disappoint them or the federation, but the priority in this situation is the Chicago Fire.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: It's not unprecedented for a club to refuse to release a player for a youth tournament, however the Fire may be undercutting their own ambitions to gain a reputation as a top player-development organization.

They risk other youth players being put off by the decision to block the international dreams of Gutierrez and Brady, particularly because the Fire are not offering much substance beyond pitching themselves as a good place for academy players. They are the 11th-place team in the Western Conference and rank dead last in attendance.


Brian Gutierrez Chicago Fire 2022Getty ImagesChris Brady Chicago Fire 2023Getty ImagesEzra Hendrickson Chicago FireGetty

WHAT NEXT? Gutierrez and Brady will try to resurrect Chicago's season as many U.S. U20 players at other clubs leave for the tournament in Argentina.

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