Fire move on after losing Jones, Nyarko back in full training, Fernandez added as Homegrown, and more

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."

What now?

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.

Magee out

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.

Filed under: 2014 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Is there info on Florent Sinama Pongolle?

  • In reply to fatalbert:

    He's still there training with the club.

  • Guys could someone please tell me why Nyarko getting better is some great move. He is relatively old he carries a huge salary and he does not score. If old give me time yallop does not use ward in that position he should be driving a cab.

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    In reply to brokerjohn:

    Nyarko is probably the best dribbler and 1v1 player that the Fire have currently by a wide margin. The guys hasn't been blessed with an injury free career but he plays for the badge every game, just needs a solid 30 game season and he'll win you over John

  • Guys please yell me what is so great about Nyarko. He I carrying a huge salary ,he cannot score and he plays the same position as ward. If yallop does not start ward over Nyarko he should be driving a cab.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Probably not a coincidence that the Fire's offensive struggles are in line with Nyarko's absence.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Great article Guillermo, after reading this I feel better about the future of this club, it's tough to find in depth analysis anywhere about the Fire so thank you for the work that you do. I'm starting to think long term for this team opposed to my usual short term need for trophies/success

  • In reply to Sam Fredricks:


  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    With his speed and skills Patrick draws a lot of defensive attention, creating space for others to move off the ball. He makes the Fire offense happen. And G is right. Without him, the Fire are very limited offensively. He's worth all they are paying him. I just wish he wasn't quite so fragile.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    While I certainly agree with you more than the other folks here about Nyarko (I'm a well-documented Nyarko basher), I'm not sure that Ward starting over him is a no-brainer. If Shipp continues to be a lock for one wide mid position, I'd assume relatively even competition between Nyarko, Ward and possible Nyassi for starting spot on the other side.

    Also, I do think that Nyarko provides certain intangibles/statless qualities. He can't score and lately has been surprisingly limited in his assist ability, but Arklow is entirely correct in that he draws defensive attention and creates space for others. Considering how ridiculously compact the midfield has been this season (all the "wide" midfielders pinch inside, Magee drops into the midfield etc.), I do think that the Fire had been missing someone with Nyarko's skillset: speed and ability to beat players 1 on 1 (which is another reason I think the Nyassi trade happened). That said, I still think he's on the downside of his career and considerably overpaid.

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    I completely agree with Arklow. The collapse of the offense has everything to do with the absense of Nyarko. His presence on the pitch opens up the offense. IMHO he is one of the few players worth the money he is paid.

  • I feel that Nyarko has been off his game for the past several years due to injuries. I still feel he offers a lot at midfield with speed and opening the field. I also like Ward and would like to see them on the field at the same time. The only knock against Shipp is that he isn't a quick as Nyarko or Ward but still offers a lot of skill otherwise. Ward also can play defense which may not be a bad idea given the problems on the back line.
    Seemingly the odd man out is Magee who has hip and leg injuries as well as what's going on with his head. He clearly isn't the player he was last year. Hopefully, the Fire can have a win spurt while he's out. I also feel Nyassi should be in the midfield mix.
    With Nyarko and Nyassi on the wings, the Fire would have a lot of speed at that position they haven't in several years.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    A lot of good points here, it reminds me of something that I didn't mention above -

    Regardless of who starts, Nyarko returning allows Yallop to actually make changes off the bench. Being able to inject speed into the game is a huge plus that the Fire didn't have with Duka and an injured Nyarko. I've also thought that most of Ward's best performances have come as a sub rather than a starter. It would also be interesting seeing him play as a wingback.

  • Like has been noted already, much of what you get from Nyarko doesn't necessarily fall under the "goals/assists" category. He's dangerous, draws out (and beats) defenders in wide spots, and creates space for other attacking players. His absence limits the team going forward, which has even bore itself out when he's been subbed off when he was healthy.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    I agree with Jeff. He just creates chaos and uncertainty for the defense. It's hard to name a player who can so consistently get behind an opponent's defense even when they know that's exactly his game, and then they have to defend facing their own goal.

    Not saying he hasn't had better years, but I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do again. I think a player like Amarikwa or even Fondy is going to look a lot better with Patrick on the field.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Fondy, you must be kidding, don't see no future in him,
    Earnshaw yes, but not Fondy.

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    In reply to lonecoyote:

    Agree wholeheartedl with lonecoyote. No future in Fondy - play someone who can help us later if not now. Nothing Nyarko does will make Fondy look better.

  • Guys nyarko's best years were years ago. This is the chance to see what ward has to offer. If they want to play Nyarko it is too see if there is anything left in him. When a soccer player that depends on speed has leg injuries that is generally his time to start looking for another career. If Nyarko is part of the fire next year the team is in major trouble. The best thing that would happen is to trade Yallop Bliss pause, Nyarko, Bakey and Alex for a late round pick.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    I think Pause would opt for retirement rather than be traded, at this point. I'm leaning toward this being his last year as a player.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    He's still only 28 and he's actually not missed that many games due to injury before this year.

    2008 - 9 gp in rookie year
    2009 - 30 gp
    2010 - 27 gp (concussion symptoms)
    2011 - 30 gp
    2012 - 34 gp
    2013 - 30 gp

    He does take a beating due to incessant fouling and physical play from opponents, maybe that's why some see him as injury prone over his career.....which he really hasn't been.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    I personally agree to a point. I'd be greatly disheartened to see Nyarko being relied on as a starter and on the same/increased contract next season. That said, with a restructured contract and further down the depth chart or as a sub, he may still have a place. But the fact is the Fire can do better for that kind of money, not to the extent of Soumare, but still.

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    In reply to brokerjohn:

    Agree with you to trade Yallop, Bliss, Pause, Baky and Alex. Wrong about Nyarko. Even a one legged Nyarko is better than most of the rest of this team.

  • If the Fire can get him, Pito Ramos could turn out to be a great signing, he's young, tall, and has scored in about half the games he has played, seemingly a higher quality player than usually mentioned by the Fire. A hopeful sign, but he can't be signed until December according to reports.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    May not hurt to get a look in January. He would be bench depth in MLS.

  • Picks today:

    Seattle over Colorado
    Toronto FC over New England
    Montreal and Columbus draw
    FC Dallas over Chicago
    Vancouver over Portland
    Real Salt Lake over San Jose

    DC United and New York draw
    Los Angeles over Chivas USA

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