Fire head into last leg of preseason undefeated and unscored upon

A 1-0 win over DC United this morning leaves the Fire with a 4-0 record heading into the final phase of preseason in Tuscon, Arizona. The clean sheet was also the fourth consecutive shutout for a team that struggled defensively for the better part of the 2013 season.

After the "kids" got a chance to play against Orlando City SC on Tuesday night, the starters went 60 minutes against DC United but failed to score. One of the "kids" played the hero again in the 75th minute. This time is was Benji Joya's curling beauty from just outside of the 18 providing the difference.

The team will return to Chicago today before departing for Arizona on Saturday. Frank Yallop will certainly have some tough decisions to make in terms of roster cuts. The Fire currently have 28 players under contract (not including Orr Barouch who is expected to join the team in Tucson) and 37 players participated in the Bradenton camp. It's likely that a familiar name or two won't be on the final roster come compliance day on March 1.

Fire line up vs DC

GK Johnson

DEF Palmer (Franco 61'), Soumare (Ianni 61'), Hurtado (Berry 61'), Segares (Walsh 61')

MID Nyarko (Atouba 61'), Larentowicz (Joya 61'), Alex (Shipp 61'), Duka (Pineda 61'), Rolfe (Ward 61')

FWD Anangono (Amarikwa 61')

Filed under: 2014 Pre Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • uh-oh

    http://www.footyheadlines.com/2014/02/mls-2014-jerseys-overview-all-infos.html

    so.....the Fire's new primary kit will feature a new navy color block where the badge is. This is not going to end well.....

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    One thing I've noticed this preseason, and I'll temper all my comments with "it's still early" ala Frank Yallop, is that the Fire defense isn't giving up the second chance opportunities. Last year I felt like the team gave away far too many opportunities on the second ball. They really seem to be closing that down this year so far

  • In reply to Steve Sanders:

    Yes....that was a a huge problem last year.

  • I'm disgusted by the description of the jersey. The Fire's badge is awesome.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    March 4 is going to be interesting.

  • So far my starting team would be
    Magee
    Nyarko, Shipp, Joya, Duka
    Larentowicz
    Palmer, Sourmare*, Hurtado, G. Ward
    Johnson
    First Sub: Pineda
    *As long as he doesn't continually play out of position.
    The above lineup could change based on what happens
    in the next three weeks prior to opening day.
    Really haven't seen much of the regulars so far, but there are some who will have to work hard to stay in the opening day lineup.
    The team is loaded with young talent and several familiar names
    will be missing on opening day. Hopefully the regulars will be getting into shape in the remaining pre-season games and show some dynamic soccer like the youngsters, particularly on offense.
    At least, the team is much deeper defensively than last year, which was the Achilles heel for the Fire in the early part of last season when they had several players playing out of position on defense.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    I'd start Berry ahead of Soumare

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    Not a whole lot of size/height in that line up but it's definitely dynamic. I'd like to see Joya in the starting line up at center mid and Shipp as the first sub. Anangono still has something to prove....hasn't been bad but they need production out of that spot.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Whoa!! GR---what's with the "size/height" thing? I thought we were past that kind of fixation?

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    ha!
    I think Yallop will want to play with a "hold-up" forward in his 4-1-4-1 and JLA is the most likely to fill that role.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    I don't see Joya and Shipp lining up together in the middle, even with Larentowicz behind them. I think Yallop's going to look to have one more veteran in the center, and that's likely to be Rolfe.

    I think Franco is pretty dynamic coming out of the back, but his possession is not where it should be. Ward's no slouch and I liked him during his last stint with the Fire.

  • Anongano had a very good opportunity in the first game against DC. He basically had his weight wrong and got no power on his shot. Those are the chances strikers need to capitalize on and he basically whiffed. Not sure if there is much to hope for from the big man other than he is big and takes up space. A single defender can stop him.

  • Rolfe just isn't that fast or good, I see him more of a part time player.
    We need fresh legs in the middle, a midfield with Nyarko, Duka, and Joya is probably the best midfield the team has had in years,(that's not saying much), it would be fast and create a lot of movement of the ball opening spaces, Rolfe might slow that down. Shipp could be used as a secondary striker with Magee. Although Anangono may have raw talent than Shipp, Shipp is the more polished player by far. Don't think Anangono will be with the club unless he starts showing more progress during the pre season.
    Would like to see how Orr would fit in with the new group.
    Bleacher Report had an article about the contenders in the Eastern Division. The reported listed the Crew, D.C., NY.,Houston, Toronto, K.C., Union, and New England, but no mention of the Fire.
    What a dumb ass

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    The Crew as a contender for what?

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Yellow-est effing team.

  • It's going to be interesting where and how and when Yallop is going to employ this young talent. Shipp, Joya and Pineda all seem to be making a pretty good case for themselves to break into the first team.

    I'm going to throw something out that may or may not be received well here, but I think it may be time to re-evaluate who actually on this team deserves to be an automatic starter. IMO, the only names that should be on the team sheet every game (barring injuries) are Magee, Johnson and Larentowicz. I'm not saying we need to replace the other 8 positions; we are obviously fine at CB, depending a good pairing is found (preferably not Soumare, again IMO). I'm saying that it's time to question whether players like Nyarko, Duka, Anangono and Segares should be seen as obvious first 11 material.

    With that in mind here are some things floating around my head:

    1. There's not much competition for the fullback positions (as has been the case....forever?). LB is Sega, even if he's lost a step or two (or three), I just don't see a better option there (Palmer or Jumper are parallel moves at best). RB is much more vague (again like always it seems), Palmer and Franco were the pre-pre-season favorites, but Franco has been poor from what I've seen. I'm not wild about the idea of Palmer, but I think it's a good bet right now.

    2. The Fire have four starting quality CBs (Ianni is on the border, but he was a starting CB for Seattle for awhile). Three of them are capable of playing at mls-allstar levels, but also are prone to game losing brain farts (I'm talking Berry, Hurtado and Soumare here). I don't know much about Ianni, but if he's NOT prone to these mistakes, even if he's a less capable CB than the other three, he might crack the 11. I'd guess its two of the three though. Best guess Soumare-Hurtado.

    3. The middle three of the 4-1-4-1 are pretty easy to guess: Larentowisz will be holding, Magee will be attacking, and one of Alex, Joya, or Pineda will probably be box-to-boxing it. Alex is the "veteran" here, but I expect Joya to get a chance, especially in situations where the Fire need a goal (AKA all the time...). The only other thing of note here is Shipp, but he can't win the job of Magee and I don't think we see Yallop running a starting 11 without a holdup number 9, so I don't see Magee moving to the point of attack to make room for Shipp (or Rolfe) in the middle.

    4. Here's where people aren't going to agree with me. It's time to move past Nyarko. I know he creates loads of chances, but no-one takes them and no-one has in the 5+ years he's been terrorizing the flanks. I just think it's time to move past the "look at all the scoring chances he creates" argument and start to look at the lack of production. Last year's numbers are pretty lame. Lindpere (who was meh at best) statistically dominated Nyarko while exerting exactly 1/1000000th of the effort. He was so lazy; he was the anti-Nyarko. But guess what? He got his job done. I'd like to see what a midfield 4 of Shipp-Joya/Alex-Magee-Duka could do. I know it's not the "safe" option, but I think it's time for a change. Duka isn't set in stone either, of course, but I like his game. Hopefully Pineda gets his chance, and Nyarko would still be golden as a sub/spot starter (also G. Ward, if he makes the team).

    5. The center forward position is still a problem. Anangono is not an inspiration. We have options: Barouch (maybe), Gentile, Amarikwa. But that's not the most, shall we say, dangerous list. That said, having a wealth of attacking threats in the forward 4 of the 4-1-4-1 lowers the need for the 9 to score tons of goals on their own. Look at what Altidore is doing at Sunderland this year. We know he can score goals, but his hold-up play is the main point. If we have someone who can take care of business there, we might be okay without...idk...Drogba (haha).

    My ideal line up (considering the options we have now):
    Anangono
    Shipp Joya Magee Duka
    Larentow
    Sega Berry Hurtado Palmer
    SJ

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    I agree with most of that with the exception of the Nyarko theory. They've got some guys who can put away chances now even if they don't have a "star" at the #9 spot. He's still one of the most consistently dangerous players in MLS and he's also a maximum effort two-way player. Nyarko's all around ability is rare in MLS. Replacing him because no one has put away the chances he's created seems a bit counter productive, no?

    Duka seems close to putting his total game together and could have a big year if he improves on last season.

    I think Yallop is leaning toward the Soumare/Hurtado pairing that we've seen on the first team so far.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I'd argue that to continue to play a player rendered ineffective by his teammates simply because he puts up better theoretical stats is entirely counterproductive. Clearly it was not entirely his teammates fault that they did not finish the chances either. If lazybones Lindpere doubles your production in roughly half the minutes, something is wrong.

    That said I cannot argue with Nyarko's defensive game. That's why playing Shipp (or Pineda or G. Ward, etc.) is not a "safe" option. I just think that his impact is overrated, and think that his inclusion in the "guaranteed starter" club has become unwarranted.

    I'm not trying to change anyone's minds here, nor do I think it's likely, as Nyarko is a popular and truly likeable member of the team, who fully exemplifies qualities that the Fire as an organization promote. However, I am hoping to challenge the stance that he is an integral part of the starting lineup.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    Fair enough. Competition is good and they have some at the wide spots. Nyarko is still a starter for me.

  • I wondered the same thing, couldn't understand why the Fire were not mentioned, probably because they didn't make much noise on the international scene. I t will be a very competitive division but so will be the Fire.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    That very reason is why so many people are going to be surprised. They're still looking at the team through 2012/2013, Klopas-era eyes.
    I DON'T pity the fools. In fact, I'm looking forward to it.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    This should be an entertaining team to watch.

  • Aren't we about to see some of those tough decision cuts? I was expecting some today since they were back in Chicago and shipping out to AZ. They've probably made up their minds on at least a couple. Why fly them to AZ just to tell them they've been cut?

  • In reply to Arklow:

    They fly to Arizona on Saturday. I'd expect there will be some cuts announced tomorrow and those players not returning have already been told.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    Cuts were listed on the FIre site about 1 pm today. Note sure if they are complete. Look for the article about Orr Barouch headed to Tucson.

  • "Friday the club announced that SuperDraft selection Bryan Ciesiulka, along with guest players David Meves, Freddie Braun, Tim Ward, Daniel Jackson and Andrae Campbell would not be joining the team in Tucson." From chicago-fire.com

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