Reports across the pond indicate that Leicester City has secured a deal with Wigan for the services of midfielder Shaun Maloney but Frank Yallop isn't closing the door on the Fire's chances to acquire him just yet. Yallop told reporters during a conference call Wednesday afternoon that the Fire still believe they are in play for Maloney. "As you've seen in the press, we have shown interest in him," said Yallop. "We've spoken to the agent and spoke to the player and we'd love to have in Chicago but it's basically up to Wigan right now and what they want to do with him. They're trying to sell him obviously. All of those things come into it. He's a free agent come July 1 so it's kind of a tricky situation right now. We're just kind of waiting to see what Wigan want to do and what the player wants to do. We feel pretty good that the talks have gone well but it's always a tricky situation when you don't know the outcome right now. We're just hoping that Shaun decides he wants to come to Chicago and we can get him signed."
"I'm only working through Anthony McFarlane, who is his agent so as of right now he's not spoken to Leicester about personal terms. I've just got to get told he's free to go and you can sign him and away we go. It's kind of a waiting game which is frustrating because we're losing other guys that we have targeted. We'll wait a little bit and then we'll make a decision."
Yallop also addressed reports that the Fire expressed interest in the terms for acquiring Mexican international Javier Hernandez. "Through Andrew (Hauptman) we wanted to feel out what was going on. We reached out to the league to see what was going on and see how much he would actually cost us and all those things but there was definitely some interest from us. It was a little while back but it's definitely showing that we want to grow. We asked and we felt that (his fee) was pretty astronomical," said Yallop.
On whether or not the Fire would have Grant Ward back in 2015, Yallop offered this explanation:
"I've made numerous attempts to talk to Tottenham about Grant coming back. The feeling once I first spoke to them was that they wanted to keep him there and evaluate how he's done with us in the six months and move from there. I haven't really had an answer back but I expect him not to be back next season. It might be something in the summer. I like Grant and I'd love to have him back but I think Tottenham are exercising their right to keep the player on their books and obviously have a real good look at him under their radar and see if he's somebody who is going to do well for them or loan him out somewhere else. There's always a bit of a push for us to get him again for a year but that wasn't from a lack of trying. I'd like to have Grant back because I think he did a nice job and I think he would have grown into the spot. We'll see. I'm still working on that one. It's not a definite no, but it doesn't look likely."
Accam's role and 2015 formation
The Fire introduced David Accam as a forward although he's listed as a midfielder while with the Ghanaian national team. Yallop indicated that Accam will play outside and the Fire seem likely to utilize a variation of a 4-3-3 formation. "David's always been a wide left player. He plays in a 4-3-3 system as a wide left midfielder and he's played in a 4-4-2 wide left. He's also played in a 4-4-2 as a second forward. What I like about David is that he has versatility to his game and he has goals in him. I see him lining up as a wide left player for us and attacking from that area. That's his best spot. I've chatted to him and we spoke about it and he really feels comfortable. It allows me to add other guys in central areas that are going to be dangerous too. I tried to, from the start of the campaign of changing the team, to try to add goals from a lot of spots. He's one that's going to play from a wide left spot and get some goals. Obviously, Kennedy is going to get goals up front and we'll see how the situation with Shaun goes but he's another guy that can create and score from that position underneath. We have Mike Magee injured but coming back. We've got Patrick Nyarko injured and coming back so we have some options. Guly do Prado is another one that's an experienced center forward. Anywhere in those three spots across the midfield and forward he can play so we've some nice versatility to our guys and I'm excited about that."
Here are the remainder of the topics covered:
Mike Magee's status
"Mike had major surgery. Like I said when we started to rebuild the team in the offseason, we've got make sure that we don't think that Mike is going to be coming back (early). It will be great when he comes back but we can't expect to get him because you never know with surgery. If we're waiting for Mike to come back and three or four months into the season we're struggling that would be poor on my behalf. We made sure we went ahead and added some real quality in those spots. We know Mike, and you guys know him too. I've followed his career for many years. He's versatile, he's hungry and when he comes back and wants to play he's a very good player. We didn't see the best of him. I didn't see the best of him. He was injured the whole year to be honest. He was struggling most of the year with that injury. Hopefully he comes back nice and strong and raring to go when he does get a chance to come back and play."
"I spoke to Quincy at the end of the season and said I'm going to be making some changes up front because we couldn't score enough goals. I'm not blaming him but I'm saying that in general we didn't do that so we're making in changes in the attacking area. I said get ready to fight for your spot but you know Quincy, he says no problem I'm ready to go."
Alex to return?
"He's wanted to test the waters overseas. We're waiting to see what he wants to do but it will be nice to have Alex back. I think he's a very good, versatile squad member for us and I think he did a pretty good job for us last year. We'll have a better team around him and it will be good to have him back. We'll see. He's undecided right now so we're just waiting on that."
Offseason moves and the back line
"The players you acquire upfront get more press and razzmatazz but we picked up three defenders in the meantime with Eric Gehrig, Adailton, and Joevin Jones. We thought those spots were needed. We still have, I would think, another defender to add and we still need another midfielder or two, second forward/central midfield. We have some spots to fill but obviously the rah-rah comes around Accam and Kennedy and do Prado. They're the goal scorers and they get more headlines. I think we've done a good job of making sure we cover our bases and try to get ahead of the curve."
The third DP spot
"We want to use it now. In talks with Andrew very recently, we want to use it right now and get this team moving and going in the right direction early. We'll try to use it now. It's difficult because you don't want to panic into it and pick someone just because we want to use it and use it and then we're stuck. We're trying to fill that spot with the third DP right now, so let's see if we can."
Larentowicz at CB or DM
"I see him as a defender right now. Centerback. It's tough to say that he will not play in midfield and not to say that we've pigeonholed him into playing centerback but what I like about Jeff is that he has that versatility in him. As of right now I've got him penciled in as playing centerback."
"Seven is a decent number so we're hoping something pans out and someone that we're targeting is going to be sitting there at seven. We may trade the pick. You don't know what's going to happen on draft day." Centerback and wide midfielder were the first two spots that he identified as needs.
Announcements on a lead assistant to replace CJ Brown and the official word on a USLPro affiliate are expected to be made within the next week or so. "We're getting there. We're really close. It's 100 percent but we're not finished with the documents, put it that way," said Yallop of the deal for the affiliation.