Frank Yallop addressed media yesterday in his weekly conference call as the Fire have begun the second leg of training camp in Bradenton, Florida. A match against DC United on Saturday should feature minutes for some of the first team after last week's preseason opener showcased mostly young players and trialists. Yallop was accompanied by Clint Mathis (who will be a fun add to the staff). Here are the highlights:
- Players in camp: A few players from Ave Maria have not returned to Bradenton. Yallop expects to go into the season with 29 0r 30 players on the roster. "There will be some decisions made after this camp and even up to going to Tucson," he said. He also expressed what he believes is the need to let players know as soon as possible if they're not going to make the final roster. If he feels players aren't going to make it (due to numbers, roster space, etc) he will make the move early enough so that they have a chance to catch on somewhere else. Yallop said the clubs will have 36-37 players in Bradenton for this phase.
- Internationals return: Mike Magee and Sean Johnson have rejoined the team after training with the USMNT in January.
- Youngsters will get a shot: This seems to be a topic at every press conference and Yallop once again reiterated that players like Harrison Shipp and Victor Pineda will be given an opportunity to play. "I love to play young players if they're good enough and ready for the challenge," said Yallop.
- Joya joins the club: Benji Joya has joined his new teammates after finding his way to Chicago via weighted lottery. Yallop said he hadn't seen a lot of Joya (he played in a San Jose academy system briefly) but contacts in Mexico are very high on him. He looks to be a #8 or a two-way midfielder who is confident on the ball and will move it around. "Any player who gets to Santos Laguna and plays on the first team has to have something."
- Puppo close to officially gone: He's still technically a part of the roster but it doesn't seem like that will be for much longer. "Federico Puppo's (contract) is still getting resolved right now. It's going to come to an end and Federico will be off the roster. We're working on that and I don't think that will be an issue," he explained.
- Depth at left back: One of the players vying for a spot is US U-20 left back Parker Walsh who played briefly overseas before heading back to the US. A "numbers game" may make it difficult for him to stay on but Yallop wants to make sure that the pieces they need are on the roster.
- Mathis on deciding to coach: Clint Mathis wasn't always looking to be a coach but seems to be very excited to be a part of a technical staff now. "As a player you don't ever want to think, hey I'm going to coach because you never want the dream to end," he said. " When I did retire in August of 2010 I had a wife and two children and I wanted to step away from the game a little bit because that's all I ever did - traveling, changing teams, picking the family up and moving them. I just wanted a little bit of down time. After a year and a half off he started working with the Galaxy academy and that led to his decision to continue to pursue coaching." He also referred to himself as a bald, fat guy.
- Style of play: Yallop is looking to press hard and look to win the ball back in the opponent's half. The actual style should be a departure from what we saw of his teams in San Jose.
- The Fire will play DC United on Saturday at 6:00 cdt.
GK (3) - Johnson, Reynish, Kann
DEF (8) - Berry, Hurtado, Ianni, Jumper, Kinney, Palmer, Segares, Soumare
MID (11) - Atouba, Duka, King, Larentowicz, Alex, Nyarko, Pause, Pineda, Ritter, Shipp, Joya
FWD (7) - Amarikwa, Anangono, Gentile, Gulley, Magee, Rolfe, Barouch*
Unsigned draft picks remaining in camp
MID (1) - Ciesulka
DEF (1) - Franco
Known guest players still in camp
GK (1) - Meves
DEF (2) - Walsh, Ward
MID (1) - Braun