The Fire played to a 0-0 draw with Bob Bradley's Stabaek IF but the bigger story on the night is injuries. David Accam finally made his debut with the team after missing the first phase of camp on national team duty but left the match in the 62nd minute with an apparent injury just before he was about to be subbed off. "He's got a slight groin, we've just to got find out the extent of it," said Frank Yallop after the match. Accam will be evaluated in the morning and the Fire will probably be cautious with him considering how important he could be this season.
Shaun Maloney and Lovel Palmer also departed with apparent injuries but Yallop downplayed the seriousness of those. Maloney left after experiencing some cramping and Palmer was removed in the 86th with what Yallop called a "groin tightness" issue. Palmer may have some soreness but isn't expected to miss much time. Accam's injury may be a strain and could be cause for some concern however.
Yallop was happy with the third consecutive clean sheet of the preseason but wasn't particularly content with the overall play in this game. "Getting a clean sheet was good but I thought for whatever reason we were flat in the the first half. The two other games we played I thought we moved the ball real sharply and we played a lot better," said Yallop. "We didn't play well today but also we hung in there and didn't concede a goal. We had some chances but the other team did as well."
A combination of fatigue and competition may have been factors in the uneven play according to Yallop. "We trained them hard the last five days. Pushed them pretty good and I think they looked a little bit leggy and looked a little a bit slow going into this match and it showed," he said. Yallop isn't yet concerned with the lack of scoring so far in preseason citing the amount of chances that have been created. He also pointed out that the quality of the opposition has been formidable for preseason play.
In the first two contests of preseason the Fire seemed to have lined up in the 4-3-3 look that Yallop indicated would be the base formation this year but this match featured a 4-2-3-1 alignment. He downplayed the differences however indicating that there will be some flexibility in how the side is deployed going forward. "It was basically the same system, we played the same in the UK," said Yallop. "We had Diarra play in one game but the rest of the time we played two behind Shaun."
The look is likely to change based on which players are on the field and who the opponent it. "It's just the personnel I have. It's about what's the best fit for them. We've created enough chances to score more goals and I think we've been pretty solid in possession. It's gone okay so far we just have to continue with it and make sure it's finely tuned in a couple weeks time," he said.
Line-up v Stabaek
D Jones, Adailton, Larentowicz, Palmer (Gehrig 86')
M Cocis (Bryce 73'), Watson (Polster 73')
M Accam (Amarikwa 62'), Maloney (Stephens 73'), Shipp (do Prado 82')
F Igboananike (Alex 61')
- Sean Johnson did not play and Yallop offered the explanation. "Sean cut his arm in the game at QPR. It just got caught in the netting and one of the clips cut his arm so he had stitches in that and he had them out today so I didn't want to push him there." Johnson will likely play in the last two practice outings according to Yallop.
- The Fire had a full squad travel to Portland with the exception of Patrick Nyarko who is still rehabbing from ACL surgery last fall. Yallop wasn't holding Nyarko to a time frame for return but he did say it could be a coupe of months before he's ready to return. "He's a ways away. An ACL takes a while for soccer players. You can't come back too quickly. He's four months in and he's probably got ten weeks to three months before he steps on the field and at least starts to get into soccer stuff."
- Alou Diarra is now on trial at Charlton Athletic but the Fire haven't closed the door on bringing him in just yet. "We're still kind of talking to him," said Yallop. "We wanted to get some medical stuff checked out and we'll just see how it goes. It's not definitely no but we're still working on that."
- The remaining unsigned players in camp are draft pick Kingsley Bryce, Albert Edward, and Shahdon Winchester.