Fire 1 Timbers 1 - news and notes, Accam questionable for opener

The third draw in four preseason matches may raise some eyebrows after last season's record breaking number of ties but Frank Yallop was happier with the performance in this match than he was after Sunday's draw against Stabaek. "I thought the performance was very good in all departments," said Yallop after the match. "We created some chances and we moved the ball well. We used a number of different players in different spots so I was very happy with today's game."

Midfield seemed to have a better go in this game although there were some uneven and sloppy moments that go along with preseason contests. Michael Stephens and Chris Ritter started the game centrally in a flat 4-4-2 and Yallop liked some of what he saw there although the Fire improved considerably in the second half once Shaun Maloney and some of the starters were inserted. "Mike (Stephens) is a very good player. I thought him and Chris Ritter did a very good job in the middle of the field. What I liked about our subs in the game is that they made a difference but the guys that started the game did a really good job of containing a good side and creating some good chances," said Yallop.

Yallop also indicated that he is relatively close to settling on a line up for the opening match in Los Angeles on March 6. He's using these last three matches to round out the roster. "I'm going to evaluate these two games and evaluate the injury situation. I'm going into the Galaxy game with a game plan that I think is going to work. I'm pretty close (to setting a line up). I've got a good idea of what I'm going to do," he said.

That line up may not include David Accam, who was injured just before coming off last Sunday.  Accam won't play in the preseason finale against Vancouver on Saturday and his availability for the opener hinges on his recovery over the weekend. "He's got a slight strain," said Yallop. "The first five days determine how bad it is. It's only day two or three right now. We'll know more in couple of days to see what the extent of it is. We got an MRI. It's a slight something there. Obviously if he's a quick healer he could be available but there's no chance we're going to risk him just for one match. We want to make sure he's ready to go and healthy and firing on all cylinders when he does get to play." Accam is currently back in Chicago receiving treatment three times daily.

Adailton left this match in the 30th minute after taking a knock to the head and the Fire will also be cautious with him. We don't think it's a concussion which is good but precautionary, we took him out of the game. We'll have to see how he's feeling the next couple of days,"said Yallop.

The Fire only managed to score on an own goal when Norberto Paparatto headed a corner kick into the Portland net in the 44th minute but Yallop still remained bullish on the team's outing. "I think today was a good indicator. Everybody was good. I thought our sharpness was back. The last game we played we were flat. For whatever reason it was we didn't come out of the gate quickly. We had a few days of practice. We got after what I wanted to accomplish and we played with the desire and the fight that I want out of my team."

The Timbers' lone goal came in the 22nd minute. A foul by Adailton just outside the box set up a free kick for the home side. Michael Nanchoff's attempt deflected off of Alex's arm and into Sean Johnson's net.

The final warm up is Saturday at 4:30 against the Whitecaps.

Fire line up


Bryce, Gehrig, Adailton (Larentowicz 30'), Doody (Jones 62')

Alex (Winchester 62'), Ritter, Stephens (Shipp 75'), Cochrane (Cocis 62')

Amarikwa (Maloney 62'), Igboananike (Edward 75')



Filed under: 2015 Pre Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


Leave a comment
  • News this morning that Chris Armas is joining the Red Bulls coaching staff.

  • Yallop needs to figure out how to balance the midfield. I think the peices are there to be a decent team, but the mix has been off thus far.

    Any word if Kingsley Bryce will be signed? He looks a good candidate for a loan to St Louis.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    He has not been signed but I think you're right about his destination.

  • The intensity kicked up noticeably when Maloney, Shipp and Cocis came on.

    I really like the fluidity of movement they're exhibiting and how quickly they can shift sides in attack by playing a tighter line.

    Ritter is still really sloppy with his fouls. The sooner he can refine his ball handling, the better, too.

    At least ties will be more entertaining to watch this year.

  • Maybe just a shaky start, but I didn't see steady play from Ritter in the first half.. He turned the ball over quite a few times, and got beat often. He needs to use his size and be more physical with the ball. I would think Cocis will be playing that defensive mid spot once the season starts.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    May look more like a 4-2-3-1 than a 4-3-3 with Cocis and Watson as the two holding.

  • Liked what I saw from Cocis, Shipp, and Maloney. Stephens looked to move the ball quickly but his passes often were not on target. Ritter does not move and basically gets in the way offensively. He is a tank in the back though. Gehrig played quite well especially when he ventured forward. SJ needs to play the ball out of the back and not send it skyward toward midfield 9 out of 10 times. Its preseason, let the guys work the ball. Jones played well and improved defensively from the last game. Adailton looks to be the real deal if he can stay healthy. He is calm on the ball and seems to work well with any CB partner.

  • And where o where is Guly Du Prado? He wasn't in the 1st game and I have seen no mention of him recently.Trialists get a run out but not him, odd. Igbo looked dangerous when he was able to get on the ball...which in the 1st half was not often. Is that because he is not showing for the ball or, in my view, because our midfield was unable to play out of pressure until Maloney came on?

  • In reply to upnorthred:

    I thought the combination of Amarikwa and Igboananike up top was going to make it difficult for either to get the ball in good position. They probably wanted to get a look at that and hopefully it won't be seen much more. I think we'll see close to a starting line up on Saturday against Vancouver.

  • fb_avatar

    Still don't think Ritter should be starting, nice to see a young guy get experience but his constant errant passes and ball handling are terrible.

    I agree with Krasov above SJ needs to stop send balls skyward, basically a waste of possession.

  • In reply to Dennis Groark:

    If there's one area Johnson still needs big improvement on its distribution.

  • In reply to Dennis Groark:

    It was interesting in his half of play for the MNT, he always played the ball off to defenders and did not punt wildly up field. So either the coaching instruction is different or he has more freedom with the Fire, or doesn't trust his defenders here?

  • 1st half was troubling, but the second half was much much better. I think Ritter's role on this team is defensive sub to disrupt the midfield while holding on to the lead. I see good things and bad things from him, but think he could become a pretty good destroyer.

    Cochrane on the left side midfield was not good in my opinion. That being said I have no issue with Frank trying it out in pre-season. The first half Alex, Ritter, and Cochrane were lost when they got the ball, leaving Stephens to be overwhelmed.

    Saw good from Iggy when he was able to get the ball but without a quality midfield I feel he will fall out of matches for long periods. Best part of the match for me was having Shipp and Maloney out there together. When both of them are in the center great things can and will happen.

    I'm thinking with time to gel, this team will be exciting to watch. Alot more attractive then years past. My perfect starting 11 for #cf97?

    SJ, Palmer, Adailton, Red, Jones, Cocis/Watson, Shipp, Nyarko, Maloney, Accam, Iggy.

    I really think that line-up would be the most creative 11 #cf97 has had in a while.

  • In reply to KChance:

    I agree with that best line up possible featuring two holding right now (although you've got one too many with Nyarko in there).

    The Cochrane at left mid experiment is probably done. I also agree that the Shipp/Maloney combo is intriguing.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Yea, I meant for the "/" to be Id take either one out there between Cocis and Watson.

  • In reply to KChance:

    Cocis or Watson would almost certainly be overwhelmed as lone cmid. Shipp isn't going to help much that deep.

    It would end up being a 4141 or a 4132: the "#6" position would get pulverized and the Fire would have no possession.

    I think the best bet is replacing Watson with a pure destroyer (Ritter/Polster/idk), while sticking with Accam, Maloney and Shipp as the three in a 4231. Nyarko (when and if he comes back) can fight for spots or potentially force a change to a 433. I don't see the benefit of playing Watson and Cocis at the same time. Watson is just a crappier version of Cocis.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    They don't have a player on the roster that can sit in the holding mid spot by himself. Thus the continued search for a 6.
    I think 2 holding is inevitable at this point. I see the starting eleven with Accam fit going like this:
    Palmer, Adailton, Larentowicz, Jones
    Cocis, Watson
    Shipp, Maloney, Accam

    I think they've realized a true 4-3-3 may not work without a more talented player in that center mid spot.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Agree, that lineup is what Yallop will trot out.

    However, my personal opinion is that, given the personnel on hand, Watson should be replaced with someone who is more adapt at destroying and giving a bit more freedom for Cocis to roam in possession. As it is, that pair doesn't seem to have the tactical awareness to be dual "#8"'s. Cocis would still need to provide cover for the other cmid, but he wouldn't have to worry about his partner ALSO drifting around as Watson is wont to do now.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    Not sure either Ritter or Polster is better than Watson right now.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Ritter is a red card or penalty waiting to happen. Watson is a good player but cannot add offensively. He has very few mental lapses as far as I can tell. I would start him over Ritter every time. I was under the impression that Stephens was viewed more as a holding mid. What are the chances of him getting a starting nod?

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I don't think Ritter nor Polster is "better" than Watson right now, but I don't think Cocis-Watson is going to win the Fire (m)any games/possession battles.

    I like a bit of bite and nastiness in the central midfield. Ritter is a flipping tank. I'd agree wholehearted he's a red card or penalty waiting to happen, but sometimes that's the type of player a team needs. Also with both Ritter and Polster there is potential. And you have a pretty low bar set if all they need to do is be better than Watson (in my opinion).

    I liked what I saw of Stephens against Portland, but he's not a destroyer in any sense. I wouldn't mind seeing him play, but I think the same problems would arise as with Cocis-Watson. None of those guys are "6"'s.

    Anyway, main point is that I think the Watson-Cocis pairing is a dead end and needs to be fixed. So apparently does Matt Doyle over at

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Most of the central midfield is serviceable, but not spectacular by any stretch. I don't think it's a stretch to say that (especially with the offseason signings) the Fire are going to surrender the possession game, and likely look more for opportunities to counter attack. Larentowicz was the best chance at controlling the center of the pitch, and he wasn't even able to do that when he played the #6 role.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I'm with Tomaz here. Our central midfielders are not going to win us any games. We are going to lose the possession battle in every match that we have. We are going to depend on the counter attack and that is a terrible way to go INTO a new season. This all falls on Yallop. If you are going to depend on the counter you need to have a rock solid back four and have good players in the middle. We dont have either of those things. Keeping clean sheets in preseason means nothing. We went 7-1 last preseason and only let in two goals and we all know how last season went. Now we have a mediocre, at best, defensive four. 2 of them are converted midfielders in Red and Jones and the other center back is on his 9th team and has only played in four games in over a year. Our center mids were nowhere near good enough last season and we now depend on them for this season. Based on what I have seen this preseason, not much has changed... Yallop. Out.

  • After a trial with Seattle, Benji Joya has resurfaced on trial with Colorado.

  • Interesting thoughts and a really good video piece on Harry Shipp........

  • Turning to the CBA for a minute, I am curious as to whether the players have defined what they mean by free agency. Using Benji Joya for an example, is he not shopping himself around the league trying to latch on? If Benji is still under contract with his Mexican team then I guess he is not a good example. Today, if a player is released and since salary is not guaranteed, if that player can find another team to play with, is he prohibited from doing that? Does the prior team get compensation from the new team if he does find another team? If a player is out of contract, goes through the ridiculous 2 stage re-entry drafts and still does not have a new team, is that player prohibited from finding a new team? If he does, does the old team get compensation? I think at some point, a player should be allowed to find a new team and get resigned by the league under a new contract rather than holding him back because his old team, who did not want him, gets compensated for basically no reason other than he had played for that team before.

    What am I missing?

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Joya's contract apparently hasn't been renewed by Santos so he is free to go wherever he can land a deal. His situation isn't a perfect example but it still points out how silly the MLS waiver rules are. The Fire didn't pick up the buy option on the loan from Santos as last season ended. Since he was not at least 23 years old he did and only played one year in the league he did not qualify for the re-entry draft. Joya apparently can go wherever he can get a deal in MLS but Robert Earnshaw, whose option was not renewed by the Fire but was protected in the expansion draft was subject to a waiver draft.
    If a player is released and his salary is not guaranteed he can go to another team (ie Matt Fondy last season). The previous team does not receive compensation in this case.
    A player who is out of contract and can't agree to terms with his current team is subject to the silly re-entry draft which was agreed to by the players during the last CBA as a concession towards free agency. If he gets through both stages without being claimed he is free to cut a deal with any team. The old team does not get compensation in this case either. Players can voluntarily remove themselves from the draft if they wish to cut a new deal with the old team (see Alex). If a team wishes to keep the player whose contract has expired and the parties can't agree to a deal, the player simply can't just go into re-entry and find another deal. Get this gem from the roster rules:
    "a team retains the rights to the player indefinitely following the expiration of a contract only if attempts were made to re-sign the player."

    Players are looking for complete free agency once a contract expires similar to what you see in other sports. That's not going to happen. There should he some middle ground here. I'd like to see re-entry abolished and players whose contracts have expired after a certain amount of time in the league be given the ability to choose where they go. The cap/budget will restrict how much they can be paid anyway.

    There are also cases where players have gone elsewhere after contracts have expired and have not returned because clubs have held their rights due to a "qualified offer" being made (see Herculez Gomez). The Fire was able to get Chris Rolfe back when he returned to the US without having to go through allocation because they made a qualified offer thereby retaining his rights.

    It needs to change.

  • I haven't been able to watch Ritter much, and my lingering memory of him from his rookie season was his giveaway to Robbie Rogers who promptly registered an assist for LA.

    But the talk of him being a red card waiting to happen - which may be very true - reminds me of MIchael Bradley early in his USMNT days - or Jermaine Jones. Both of them were good for a yellow card in any given game.

    I'm not saying that's excusable, but what would have happened if they were not called up after a couple cards? That's a lot of wasted talent. I'm not saying that Ritter is comparable to either of them, but maybe FY sees potential in him and thinks he can train the recklessness out of him. Maybe FY thinks you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Ritter can be a decent MLS player. I think the Fire may see him as a guy who can also play center back. He won't be a star but can be serviceable.

  • More and more this year's team is looking like last year's team,
    can't expect any offensive pressure from the midfield with Ritter in.
    Except for Shipp, Maloney, and Quincy, haven't shown much, letting
    Vancouver pretty much dictate the game. Time still looks out of sync,
    maybe a CB stoppage could help the Fire, don't look close to prime

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    This season will be the same or worse. We didnt get any better. We only became different. We brought in players to replace our best players from last year and didnt replace our worst players. So now we have our good players fighting for minutes while our bad players are going to be starting every game. Cocis, Ritter, Watson, and Stephens wouldnt be starters on majority of the other teams in the league. They are our only option in the middle. Our best CM is now a CB. Our LB on the other teams that he has been on, scoring 28 goals in 55 games. Our other CB has only played in 4 games in a year and a half. Before that he was playing in the second division in Switzerland. 5 of the starters have never played in a MLS game before and teams with a lot of turnover in personnel dont do very well. When we are fully healthy in the summer we will have players like Magee, Nyarko, Shipp, Quincy, do Prado on the bench while players like Watson and Cocis will be every game starters.
    Is Maloney THAT much better than Shipp that we needed him more than a "6" that we need?
    Is Iggy that much better than Quincy or Magee that we needed to move Jeff to CB and get him?
    Did we need do Prado more than we needed a CB?
    Every single one of these players on the roster are Yallop's guys, so if he doesnt WIN, not tie, with them then he needs to go. Immediately. There is no such thing as a good tie this season. Anything other than 3 points is not good enough. I'm sick of watching this crap every week. Yallop. Out.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I have gathered that you are not a fan of Frank Yallop. ;)

  • That scoreline against Vancouver makes me want to slit my wrists.

  • Just tuned into the NYCFC game and saw a deadly combination goal by Villa, MIx, and Grabavoy (plus one more) against the Charleston Battery. I don't see this season ending well if we don't find a real number 6, despite what I said earlier about Ritter not being the permanent red card threat that he seems to be now.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    I think this game proved that Watson and Ritter do not have the quality to be dmids. I think Polster linked up more with the front line than Ritter/Watson combined! Yallop has to go with Cocis, Stephens, and Polster as dmids. Keep Ritter on the backline. Maybe Watson can be a 3rd string goalie.

  • fb_avatar

    Agreed, Polster did more offensively in the few minutes he played than Ritter did for the whole game. The game picked up after Ritter left the game.

Leave a comment