Amarikwa gets a new start under Yallop - Fire trade for Vancouver's Watson

With the introduction of a new coach some players on the Chicago Fire looked for new opportunities to make their mark during the 2014 MLS preseason. One such player is striker Quincy Amarikwa. The 26-year old continued to impress as the Fire closed out preseason play last Saturday night against Chivas Rayadas, scoring a late goal to seal the victory and give Chicago the 2-0 win in the final of the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Arizona. The win gave Chicago a preseason record of 7-1-0.

Amarikwa saw limited minutes in 2013 under former coach Frank Klopas. He scored 3 goals in 14 appearances, all as a substitute, but feels like he's already seeing more chances under new head coach Frank Yallop. Those moments have come early and often.

“This year there's been more chances to get the opportunity to play based on my performance,” Amarikwa told Fire Confidential after Saturday's win. “Every system is different, and every style is different, so your role is different depending on who you're playing for. I think this year has given me a really great opportunity to show what I've been waiting to show the last 4 or 5 years in the league.”

Throughout the Fire's preseason camp, Amarikwa has taken advantage of those moments, coming on consistently as a sub behind Designated Player Juan Luis Anangono. His work, even as a role player has paid off as he closed out preseason camp tied with rookie Harry Shipp for the team lead in goals.

“I feel like my preseason's gone pretty well,” he told Fire Confidential. “I've scored a couple goals and gotten a couple of assists. I feel like I've played well with the limited minutes I've gotten. Hopefully the performance translates to more minutes, especially with the season right around the corner. That's what I'm looking forward to.”

His performance has seemingly caught the eye of Yallop, who used Amarikwa regularly throughout preseason. Despite testing out different lineups, and with numerous players vying for the backup striker job, Amarikwa has been a permanent fixture in Yallop's plans early on. In the end, he hopes it's a performance that will help him turn a corner in his career.

“It's just a waiting game. I try to be as consistent as possible and wait for my chance. When I get my chance, I'll make the most of it.”

Fire trade for Watson - More moves on the way

Guillermo Rivera

Yallop and Brian Bliss continue to add roster depth and it looks like they'll continue to make moves right up until opening weekend. The Fire acquired midfielder Matt Watson from the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for an international roster spot. Watson is a native of Redditch, England but is a green card holder who does not occupy an international spot.

He's started 25 games out of 36 regular season appearances over two season with the Whitecaps. Before joining Vancouver he played for USL-Pro's Richmond Kickers following a college career at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He's also played in the MISL and NASL.

He'll provide coverage and depth in the holding and central midfield positions for the Fire but the question now turns to who he will replace on the roster. With this deal the team currently stands at 29 players under contract. Once the move to bring in Grant Ward is officially finalized the Fire will be two over the 28 man roster that Yallop is looking to keep to start the season.

Watson was paid $71,752 in guaranteed compensation in 2013 according to the latest MLSPU report so it would seem that the Fire are going to move an "on-budget" player currently on the roster in order to make room for him. If the club does not use "on budget" spots 19 and 20 those spots can be used as allocation dollars toward the first 18 on the roster, effectively creating additional cap space.

Orr Barouch and Yazid Atouba were not introduced during the Kick Off Luncheon yesterday but it seems that their absences doesn't necessarily mean that both will be gone in order to get down to 28 players once Ward is signed. It's likely that Atouba will be waived while Barouch, who is still recovering from an injury remains. That would leave one "on budget" player on the chopping block. Interestingly Watson is a central midfielder. A position where the Fire have also added Benji Joya and Chris Ritter this offseason.

Who's on the move?
We'll find out soon enough.


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  • What was the point in resigning Pause then? I love Logan Pause, dont get me wrong, but what is he going to do this season other than be a coach in the locker room and mentor the younger players? I dont really want him to see minutes on the field when we have Alex, Big Red, Benji, RItter, Shipp, and now this new guy. Thats 6 players that are ahead of him for the middle of the midfield. He cant be a RB in a pinch for us anymore and he is one year older than he was last season and couldnt get any minutes. Why not cut him and offer him a coaching role instead of taking up a player spot and counting against the salary cap?

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I don't know that Pause is going to get significant minutes this season. He was likely re-signed for his vet presence and locker room leadership.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Those are all things that a coach could do, not taking up a roster spot and counting against the cap which is apparently in a bad situation.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    That's not inaccurate at all.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I'm guessing you've never seen Ritter play... Pause is ahead of Ritter.

    Also, if you're getting Shipp, Joya and Alex on the field, I hope you're not getting them into the holding midfield role... the "1" in the 4-1-4-1. That's not what they're suited for.

    Pause is on a much lower salary this season, will serve a playing purpose and I suspect as Open Cup games come quickly in the summer we'll be quite happy he's on the roster... Also if Big Red ever got hurt, I'd much prefer Logan to Ritter, Shipp, Joya or Alex in that role.

  • In reply to seaside:

    Ritter is more of a project than the other young players. He probably won't see much first team action this year. Watson is a guy who can also play the "1" spot you're referring to if it gets to that.

  • In reply to seaside:

    I wouldn't be surprised if Logan played less than 90 minutes total this season. He was resigned to be a coach in the locker room. A 4-1-4-1 doesn't leave room for Magee and jla. They will be playing together. We are more of a 4-4-1-1 team. With Alex and big red in the middle. I'd rather see Shipp and benji playing open cup games than Logan. Logan won't be making the 18 very often this season. The fire would be better suited with him as a coach and use his roster spot and salary on different players.

  • The signed players currently counting as internationals on the Fire roster are Alex, Anangono, and Atouba.

  • So far during the pre-season I've been more impressed with Amarikwa than Anangono. It will be interesting to see who will be the odd man out.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    Agree. Also, I found it interesting that Amarikwa had 3 goals in 14 games, while Anangono had 2 goals in 13 games. If JLA doesn't step up his game, I'm not sure keeping him is fiscally responsible for the output.

  • Yazid Atouba has been waived.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    too bad, he seemed to have some skills. but the fire are much much deeper this year, something had to give.

  • Brian Straus reporting what we already knew....that "personal matters" and "new contracts" are often not far from each other. Coincidental timing, that.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    O_o Whoa. That's some serious cheddar.

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