Frank Yallop didn't hide his disappointment with losing Jermaine Jones to the New England Revolution but remained politically correct and avoided any direct criticism of the the league and the dubious circumstances that led to the now infamous "blind draw". "Obviously, from a club point of view (we're) very disappointed that we didn't get him. I was upset but we have to move on and keep going," said Yallop after training at Toyota Park this morning.
If the league's decision to leave a US National Team player's professional destination to chance bothers the club internally, Yallop isn't admitting that publicly. "It's a hard one because players come back in different ways and they're trying to make it fair for everybody. It's not easy in the front office or the league office. They make big decisions and they're trying their best to make it right. Whether we agree or not, the decision on Jones is made. Just as a guy who's been in the league since 96, when it started, they're doing all the right things to make it correct and fair. That's what we can say on that," said Yallop being as polite as possible when addressing the situation.
The Fire did not have a representative present for the "draw" but Yallop did not seem concerned with actually witnessing the result considering that the league conducts weighted lottery selections and various forms of player acquisition mechanisms that aren't attended by the clubs involved. "It's fair. They've done a lot of them and I totally accept it so there are no problems there," he said.
"It was 50/50 and you have to accept that."
With the Jones saga finally at an end and the transfer window closed, Yallop and Brian Bliss are still looking to add but it may be too late to expect any substantial difference makers at this point. "There's not a lot out there at the moment but adding Robbie (Earnshaw) was great for us," said Yallop. "We were hoping to make the big signing but didn't get that done but again we move forward and just keep looking. If it's right now, great. If it's not we just make sure we're growing and making sure we're ready for next season."
"Myself and Brian started to make calls right after we didn't get Jermaine. We're asking every team for what they have and what we have to move and try to maneuver. At this point it's not an easy time to trade. Closer to the deadline is a little bit easier because teams really make their minds up at that point. We've had some interest here and there and hopefully something comes through but when you add a player from outside you don't have to give anything up," he explained.
The club traded Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to Chivas USA a week ago but that move may have been made with 2015 in mind. "It was a big salary for us to handle or next season so I though it was a fair deal. Jhon wasn't starting regularly anyway and I felt it was the right time to do that," said Yallop.
Without Jones and a failed attempt at acquiring Argentine forward Silvio Romero, who also would have been a DP, the Fire have funds available for substantial additions. It's up to Yallop, Bliss, and Head of Scouting Trevor James to identify those targets this offseason. "It doesn't stop now. We've got some money to spend and we're going to try and do it right. Right now it's a tough one but moving forward the club wants to compete and get going and add some real top players," said Yallop.
While adding that he's excited that players like Jones are open to coming to Chicago he's also bullish on what the technical staff will be able to do this winter. "It's (the club) a bit of a sleeping giant. I think this club has been great but it's not seen the best of years. I think it's time we get going and get back to the heights we set from years before," he said.
Nyarko on the mend
Patrick Nyarko returned to full training on Tuesday and participated in full this morning. A right knee sprain has kept him out of action after May 18. Nyarko has been frustrated at the long recovery but feels he's close to being able to contribute. "The healing process was slower than we all thought but finally I started to turn the corner a couple of weeks ago and started doing stuff, upping my training and fitness and now I'm back with the team," said Nyarko.
While he's not fully fit yet, he does feel he can play limited minutes if called upon. "It's close. I don't think it's 100%. Building up training and my confidence is going to be a huge part. Going into tackles and stuff like that is going to be a huge part. It's just a matter of fitness," he said.
Nyarko wasn't ruling out a return to the 18 for this weekend's match against FC Dallas but Yallop did indicate that the following match against New England was a more realistic target. "He looks good. He won't be involved this weekend. It's a little soon to tuck him in yet but we're hoping he'll be ready for next weekend and moving forward. It's like a new signing for us because we haven't had him for three months," said Yallop only half-jokingly.
Nyarko wasn't conceding that the season is over with since the team is still within five points of the last playof spot. "I think we have it in us to make that run and I'm glad to be back at the right time to help this team make the run that we need," he said.
Is the Fire capable of making that run? "Absolutely. There's no reason why we should count ourselves out of this playoff race," said Nyarko.
Mike Magee did not participate in training but stood off to the side and watched without light training or involvement. Magee is "struggling" physically according to Yallop. "He's had a problem with his hip so it's kind of thrown everything else out. His achilles, his calf, his hamstring, his groin, all on the same side kind of throws you off whack. We just want to get it right so he's 100%. Hopefully he's ready for next week but it's not a long term thing," said the coach. Team physicians are working with him in order to get back to fitness.
Fernandez added as Homegrown Player
The Fire officially named attacking midfielder Collin Fernandez as the third Homegrown Player addition to the club this season. As a 17 year old who has been in the Player Development system for the last four years, Fernandez also been a regular in the US youth program over the last several seasons. He recently received a call up with the U-18's at the 21st International Vaclav Jezek tournament in the Czech Republic. Fernandez scored a goal and recorded two assists over three games as the USA were named tournament champions.
"It's always been my dream to become a professional soccer player," said Fernandez who did consider playing soccer in college but the short seasons weren't appealing. He's been training with the first team for several weeks now and made his Reserve team debut last season. "When I was 15 years and I first started playing with the "16" academy I started to train with the first team more and more. When I was 16 I played my first reserve game and that's when I felt I could do it," said Fernandez.
"I see myself as a two way midfielder," said Fernandez describing his style of play. "I get up and down the field. I work hard and will never stop working. I'm very good attacking wise and always work defensively also. My main attribute is going forward with the ball."
Fernandez did identify one player on the first team as being a positive influence and a motivator to keep going. "I've always looked up to Logan (Pause) since day one. When I was 15 years old he was there to push me through every single training session and he gets on me every training session. When I'm playing well he compliments me and he's always there to keep pushing me," he said.
As the fifth Homegrown Player signing in club history (Pineda, Gulley, Shipp, Ritter) he will not be available for first team selection until 2015 but will continue to play with the academy this year.