The Fire have only scored one goal through their first three games but forward Quincy Amarikwa remains optimistic considering that the team’s offensive cohesiveness has gotten progressively better after each game. The Fire have won the possession battle in each of the last two contests but haven’t done much with the ball in the final third although David Accam’s presence did add another dimension over the last forty-five minutes in San Jose.
“I think San Jose was a good measure of guys getting a feel for each other and transitioning into some good team play but now it just needs to turn into following through for ninety minutes and making no mistakes that cost us the game,” said Amarikwa after training on Thursday morning.
After finishing as the team’s leading goal scorer last season, Amarikwa has regained the starting striker’s position despite the presence of designated player Kennedy Igboananike. The new addition has struggled to adapt to the MLS game and remains behind the incumbent for playing time. Frank Yallop has tried to play Amarikwa in combination with Igboananike but now seems to prefer playing with one striker of late. “Whatever role is necessary for me. I want to play the game, so if I’m up top by myself or there’s five of us up top, as long as I’m in there I don’t really mind. I think he’s (Yallop) comfortable with having me up top because I’m capable of being a hold-up striker as well as getting behind defensively which I think with most guys it’s either one of the other,” said Amarikwa of the differences in formation this season. The desire to improve defensively is likely also one of the main reasons for the decision to play with one forward according to Amarikwa.
There is some talent available in different attacking combinations but that doesn’t mean goals will start flowing immediately. “Everyone would love to put two people together, no matter who it is, and there should be instant chemistry that translates into goals but that’s something that just develops over time, especially with every strike partnership,’ he said. “I think my hold up play has been good. Pass completion is good but as a team we’re just trying to figure it out. I think a lot of guys are having good individual performances but what we need to do is transition that into an overall team performance.”
The team’s first ever 0-3 start to a season hasn’t quite dampened spirits in the locker room just yet with Amarikwa preaching patience for the moment. “If you’ve played professionally long enough you realize there’s going to be bad spells and good spells but the teams that come out on top are the ones that are even keeled through the good and through the bad. Guys know we’re doing the right things. Guys have bought in and guys are together as a unit and I think when times are bad or look bad, like they are and you can see guys still upbeat, bought in, and together and not pointing fingers and blaming each other I think that’s a good sign of a good group of guys.”
“It’s a long season. Three games in we’d love to have points or some wins to show for it but I think each game has progressively gotten better, especially from a team standpoint and not just individual performances. Hopefully we can turn that into a win this weekend but more importantly carry that into the rest of the season,” said Amarikwa.
A loss at home against Philadelphia this Sunday could start to peck away at some of that optimism. The Fire can’t afford to drop early again especially at home.
- Razvan Cocis did some work on the side today but has not returned to full training as he recovers from plantar fasciitis.
- Patrick Nyarko began jogging last week and the team is hopeful for a late May return. Mike Magee is optimistically targeting a return to game action in early May.
- Ross Jenkins, a 24 year old center midfielder who last played for Watford and is available on a free is training with the Fire.
- Assistant coach Marc Bircham presided over training today with Yallop departing earlier in the morning due to sickness.