The Fire opened preseason with a 0-0 draw against Norwich City this morning. The final result wasn't as important as the overall effort and Frank Yallop seemed to be pleased with what he saw from two different groups of eleven in each half against the second division English club. "After nine or so days of training, I thought we were quite bright and played some good soccer," said Yallop after the match. "Getting a clean sheet is always important for any kind of bonding and team building. Overall very happy with the effort and what we did against a mixture of professionals and U21's," he continued. "They're in midseason so it was a a good exercise."
Yallop started the game with what will likely be a close proximity to his starting eleven come March 6 in Los Angeles. ""I want to get the balance right to start with. It's day one. I wanted to put out a team I felt was going to play well together and it actually ended up that way," he said while leaving an opening for some juggling throughout the balance of preseason. "Whether I start with two forwards, I might experiment moving forward. I might play with two forwards or one forward. I just wanted to see this group as such. We're pretty close to the starting group. We've got David Accam coming back and Jeff (Larentowicz) wasn't there. There will be some tweaks along the way but we actually played pretty well for a group that's new after 8-9-10 days into preseason. I never say that's the starting unit because it would be unfair to the guys that played in the second group."
The Fire did utilize a version of the 4-3-3 formation that Yallop is implementing this season but he's also looking for flexibility in how terms of how the parts in that system can work. "We had Shaun underneath Kennedy and Harry, and had Alex pinched in a little bit so we had good numbers and had good possession in the middle of the field which allowed JJ (Joevin Jones) and Lovel (Palmer) to get forward a little bit. It's a 4-3-3 as such, but again I'm learning about our players. Until you start working with guys you don't know what they're capable of. There are some talented players, we have just have to figure out how to get the best ones on the field."
Matt Watson, Razvan Cocis, and Alex were the midfield starters in the first half behind the attacking trio and Yallop shed some light on how the central players may line up come first kick in a little over four weeks. "I played it with a little bit of an inverted triangle with Shaun being underneath Kennedy with the two , Matt and Razvan as the "8's". They're two guys that are going to work hard. It was good. We had a lot of good possession. We broke free. Both Matt and Razvan got forward at the right times. Football-wise it went very well. I just want to make sure the personnel is exactly what I want for how we're going to play. Maybe we turn around and play two attacking midfielders and one kind of sitter if you like at home. I was very pleased with our technique and our possession and our quickness of pass and thought process in this game and we haven't played a game for months," he said.
Busch; Palmer, Gehrig, Adailton, Jones; Alex, Cocis, Watson; Shipp, Maloney, Igboananike
Kann; Bryce, Ritter, Polster, Cochrane; Songo'o, Gaul, Stephens, Fernandez; do Prado, Amarikwa
- Larentowicz was out with some bruising on his knee that the club wanted to "settle down and go away". MRI results showed no damage and Yallop said the captain would be back on the field soon. Maloney wore the armband in the first half. Amarikwa wore it in the second.
- Yallop doesn't expect to make roster cuts right now and the roster seems fairly set. "There's always a chance of doing trades and stuff like that as we move forward but we're not over the cap and we don't have too many players. We have trialists in so I'll make some decisions on those guys. We won't be making any cuts with the guys we have. We may trade or talk to other clubs about stuff but at this point we're pretty good with numbers," he said.
- Yallop singled out two defenders when asked if any players stood out. "Eric Gehrig did a real nice job at the back. I felt that Matt Polster, in the second half had a good outing at centerback. That was obviously a position that I've got to find out quickly about depth. Adailton was solid next to Eric. A clean sheet from both units was great."
- New assistant coach Marc Bircham is with the team although the formal announcement hasn't been made yet. "We've got Marc in camp. We're just finishing up details," said Yallop. "He's someone I've known for years. He's a good coach and he's got his licenses over here in Europe. I like his character and you'll see that when you meet him. He's here and he's on board. We just haven't quite finished up the contract but he'll be joining us for sure."
- Yallop also commented on Gonzalo Segares' retirement and the players decision to remain in Chicago. "I'm very happy for Gonzo. He's a great person and a great servant for the club. I had many chats with him after the season and we wanted to make sure that he got a position that was what he wanted and that we felt would be very good for him. I think this is perfect. He wants to be a young coach and he wants to be involved. He loves this club. It was the same sort of thing we did to Logan. Different capacity but same sort of thing. Keeping real loyal, terrific people on board. I'm very happy for him. He's a very nice man and I think he's going to do very well in that role."