The Fire trained on the Toyota Park stadium pitch this morning as they tried to shake off Saturday's defeat to RSL and prepare for this weekend's conference clash with New York Red Bulls. New York is currently situated in a four-way tie for first place in the East.
Talk of lineups and defense dominated head coach Frank Yallop's comments after training, as it had on the weekend. He also addressed what was being called on both sides as a "part-time" addition of former USMNT forward Brian McBride to the technical staff. McBride also spoke to the media after training, saying that his summer schedule had opened up because of a reduction in duties at Fox Sports 1 as UCL and Europa League action winds down. Both sides seemed to indicate that there wasn't much to read into regarding McBride's presence, while both acknowledged that he could help as an additional coach drawing upon his tenure as a player.
Gonzalo Segares, Steven Kinney and Dilly Duka all continue to participate in full training. Bakary Soumare left training early due to migraine issues, although Yallop also seemed to indicate, both on Saturday as well as Thursday, that his position may be one of those that sees a change this weekend. According to Yallop, Alex is unavailable this weekend as he still nurses a hamstring injury sustained against New England. Sean Johnson also took a knock to his leg, but Yallop indicated he would be fine for the game against New York.
Yallop indicated that there would be "a few" lineup changes after the defeat to RSL. He said the team is in good spirits, but he's looking at different options at a few positions. "I won't give the lineup up, but there will be some changes in there, maybe one or two. For sure." He also thought Benji Joya played well at his natural no. 8 position, and likes what he's seen offensively. Joya also mentioned after training that it appears he will be slotting into his natural central position with more frequency moving forward.
"I thought going forward we were bright, the big issue was us late in the game sitting back and allowing them to play," Yallop said. "I think that was the downfall of us. As much as we try to get information to the guys on the field, we just kept sort of getting pinned back. What happens then is you either have to score the 3rd one, which Mike had a great chance to do, or you've gotta make sure you don't get too deep and allow them to clip balls in our box, which they did, and they ended up scoring. Not just one goal, but three goals, which is really poor play by us. We have to learn from that, because it's getting to be an old story where you can't keep doing that, you have to get up the field and keep playing the game the same for the full 90 minutes."
Regarding the striker position, Yallop indicated point blank that Amarikwa would again be in the starting XI on Saturday against New York. "Quincy deserves to come back to the lineup, for sure, because he's done very well." Yallop indicated a bit less confidence in Anangono, but didn't discount him from seeing action. "It's my decision on Juan. I'm looking at some things right now, you know, the options are there for me, and there's always options for me in the game too. I think Juan took his goal very well, and I thought he played well, other than the chance he missed. It's easy, sitting where I am, to put that away, but for a striker, he probably wants that back. Other than that, I thought Juan did a nice job up front."
- Yallop acknowledged that the closing games out has been a problem for the Fire. He specifically cited the missed opportunities offensively, and switching off defensively. He likes how the team continues to push offensively, but stressed the importance of staying sharp on the defensive side of the ball for the full 90 minutes.
- Possession came up as well, after RSL handled Chicago in that stat Saturday by a 64-36% margin. Yallop didn't seem as concerned though, due to Chicago generating scoring chances when they do get the ball. "I don't think we've struggled. It doesn't really correlate to the game. I think you're playing against a team like Salt Lake, they do possess it well. I think we've created some good chances, and I think possession is overrated if it's not in the opposing half. I look at chances created and how we play. That's the big key. A number of games, we haven't been outplayed, and that's the important thing as well."
- Yallop also acknowledged that it may take longer than anticipated to turn things around. "Looking at the results, yeah. But I really do feel there is light at the end of the tunnel. We've been punched in the face a few times and hurt.....along the line, we haven't won a game yet, and that's down to me, as the coach. I'm as frustrated as anybody to not have a win under my belt with this club. Six ties seems ok if you've won the other two, but we've lost the other two, so it's not so good. It's a long season, and we've got to get going to make the playoffs. But you never give up, you never say no, and you never lay down and die."
- Yallop addressed Brian Dunseth's comment on the weekend that he had a "blank check" to bring in another player in the summer window. He again discussed the constrictions of the salary cap and the moves the club has made up to this point with the inherited roster, as well as what they're looking to do as the season wears on. He only said they would address the spots they need to when the time comes.
- Defensively, Yallop praised the play of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Lovel Palmer. He said Patrick Ianni "might" get a chance to play this weekend. He also mentioned Gonzalo Segares, but didn't indicate if Segares would start on Saturday.
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