Here's a rundown of the news and notes following the Fire's first victory of the season. Frank Yallop covered a lot bases in his weekly media conference call.
Perez joins the team
Midfielder Victor Perez was in town this weekend to witness the team's first win of the season and suited up for training this morning. Yallop wasn't sure that he would be ready for the Toronto game on Saturday but he will be available for selection soon. “He’s not played in a match since I think February so he’s a little bit behind but looked fine. We’ll look at him throughout the week. It would be a stretch for him to be involved this weekend, not knowing the league and us not knowing him but we’ll see how he gets through the week," said Yallop of a potential run for the new acquisition.
Yallop did say that Perez, who is on loan from Valladolid in Spain, would not count as a designated player. At least not for now and possibly not in July. “Everything is negotiable. We’re going to see how he does and then we can talk about it. For right now he would not be a DP slot," he said.
The Fire were able to work a loan deal for a relatively low cost and the current budget isn't really affected by the move. “It’s basically a free look for us to look at him and for him to look at us. If it works out great, we just continue that through the rest of the season. It gives him the ability to go back to his club or stay with us. It’s basically ten weeks or three month loan deal with a view to extend it," he explained. Yallop called it an "up to the window loan", which essentially means that the Fire will need to make a decision on his future with the club in June.
Perez will need to earn playing time in the same manner that other players on the roster will need to perform in order to stay on the field. Yallop alluded to players like Matt Polster, Michael Stephens, Matt Watson, Razvan Cocis, and Alex who are all capable of playing in central midfield. "It’s about beating people out of spots," said Yallop. If Perez is better than the other options at the position, the Fire will look to keep him. "I’m hoping it works out. It’s another option for us. We’ve got to get him healthy, get him going up to game speed in MLS and see what he’s got."
Yallop also noted that Brian Bliss worked on the move to acquire Perez for 8-10 weeks. The deal includes an option to extend the loan through the end of the season but the cost is considerably more than the initial loan amount. If Perez performs, the Fire will have the opportunity to keep him but some budgetary juggling may be necessary. There is increased space as a result of the new CBA but as Yallop alluded to a few ago, there is room to add another good player. Perez just needs to justify that he's the player worthy of the assuming that available spot.
Options in midfield
Shaun Maloney and David Accam will rejoin the team this week after being away with their respective national teams. If both are ready it seems that they will be in the starting eleven against Toronto FC on Saturday. “We’ve got some really good options and that’s good for any coach to have," said Yallop. "From the start I’ve had sort of an eye and a vision on how we’re going to look and how we’re going to play. There’s obviously people beating others out of places if they’ve played very well. There were some good performances on Sunday and I was very happy with the way we went about it. We have two really good players returning from their international duty and they’ve both looked good and made impacts so expect them to come back into it unless they some sort of nick or bump or the travel is a bit much. David is playing on Wednesday so that could be a little bit tough for him. We’ll see how he’s feeling. I’m sure he wants to play but we’ll figure that out. It’s good to have options. It’s getting a little cluttered in there for starting spots but it’s up to me sort that out and figure out what’s going to go on in the future."
"I’m sure that the players coming back as long as they’re healthy and they’re not too tired will come back into the side. We got them for a reason, to play them. I think Maloney did very well on the weekend. We’re a better side with those two guys playing. We’ll see how they come back. You never know. Travel and lots of things come into it. They’ve got to be rested and ready to go."
The line up against Philadelphia was successful but the Fire will likely need their best players on the field to gain the same result against a Toronto FC team likely to have Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore back from the USMNT. "I was very pleased with the way the team played. Usually you leave the team if it’s won but I still think that this is another game where we’ve got to be at our best against Toronto. We can’t worry about the Philly game that we just had. We’ve done that, we got the three points but we’ve got to prepare and get ready for this next game which is a very difficult game against another conference opponent that we want to try and get three points. If it means getting those guys back into the team then so be it for sure."
Joevin Jones' position
When asked where he preferred to play Joevin Jones now that Accam is apparently fit, Yallop was non committal. "I like him," said Yallop. " think he played well at both spots. That’s one of the reasons that I liked him when we were looking to sign him. Versatility is key in our league. I think he played very well at left midfield but he’s also a very good left back. I’ll figure out how the line-up is going to look for this weekend but I think moving forward I just like him as a player. His teammates enjoy the way he plays and he slowly but surely is going more and more into the games for longer spells. It takes a while for the guys coming in from other leagues and from other countries. I think JJ is settled and is starting to really pick up his game. There is a lot more to come from him, we’ve just got to do it for ninety minutes. I felt he did very well for sixty-odd, like we did as a team, but I’d like for him to kick it on a little bit and really stretch the team late in the game too. I think he’s doing great and played very well on the weekend."
Palmer on the left or right
Yallop was equally non committal on which side of the field Lovel Palmer would play in going forward.
"I like our options. I think Eric Gehrig has played very well and Lovel’s played well. JJ has played well. It gives me headaches with selections and all that stuff but I like that. It keeps everyone on their toes. Making sure that I pick the right team that’s going to compete against Toronto is the most important thing for this club and myself and the players."
Rescheduling the Revs
The Fire announced last week that the match in New England scheduled for 4/15 ha been moved to 6/13. On the surface this potentially creates some issues with another international fixture date on June 13 and upcoming US Open Cup contests during the month. Yallop weighed other considerations before agreeing to the move.
"New England initiated that," he said. "We had a free Saturday and it would have been New England straight to Montreal for us. In discussions we thought it would be better since we have a free week (in June). Obviously the Open Cup is in there but depending on what happens with that we felt that Saturday with a free date we could fill with that game. It fit in nicely with the schedule so hopefully it works out that way when we play it."
Razvan Cocis is still not ready to return while attempting to recover from plantar faciitis. "Razvan is slowly but surely getting back. That injury takes a while. It’s an injury that doesn’t get a lot of blood flow down there. It’s been four weeks but these injuries sometimes take longer than you think. We’ve just got to be patient," he said.
"Mike Magee and Patrick (Nyarko) are kind of on the same path for when they come back. We’re hoping that we see them on the field in June but obviously with setbacks and quick recovery it could be before that. We’re not expecting those guys back any time soon but they’re on the right path."
Magee has said that he hopes to be back in early to mid May. Nyarko could make late May if all goes well.
“When you watch him, he’s a solid defender and that’s what we needed. No nonsense guy that heads it away and clears it when he needs to but he can pass out of the back. He’s a little older in his years but he’s very experienced and he’s starting to settle in. If you talk about his preseason he was injured in England and missed quite a bit. He missed ten days in the preseason and got concussed in Portland and missed a couple of games there so he didn’t start the season out because of that. I thought he played well in San Jose and I thought he played well on the weekend. I’ve been pleased with his play. He’s a good kid and he works hard and he listens and he’s a great teammate and I think anytime you have that you want him to do well. I think he’s settling in nicely and he looks solid."
On Larentowicz/Adailton pairing
“If you look at the two last games we’ve had, I don’t think they had a shot on target in San Jose other than the set plays. In this game I don’t think they had a shot on target in general play. Whether it’s Jeff and Adailton doing it or the whole team defending well, they’re the last line of defense. They’re blocking a lot of stuff and they’re shuffling their bodies around and getting in the way and being in the right spot. It’s a long, long season but I’ve been pleased with the way they’ve played together. They seem to be getting a nice understanding and they’re nice and solid. That’s the backline you need to be successful and I think both of them have started to look like they’ve played together for a while."
“Jeff has all the attributes to be a very good centerback. His whole career he’s played professionally as a holding midfielder or a central midfielder. Jeff looks like he’s very comfortable and has played there for a long time. Good players seem to slot in and they don’t look out of place and Jeff has definitely done that. Once they get more understanding (of each other) it will be more second nature for them to move and talk to each other. I’ve seen good signs of those two guys having a good partnership. They’re both humble guys that want to talk and help and learn, all those things that go into being a good pairing, they want to do that. We’ve don’t a lot of work on the training field with our back four and our defending as a unit and not once have they chirped anything. They’ve worked properly and made sure that we’re going it game-like in training and it comes out in games. I think they have been very solid. Yeah, they’re going to get beat once in a while but it’s going to be a good play that beats them."
Recapping the Philadelphia game
"We should have scored a number of goals," said Yallop. "We did not do that, which is always a thing we’ve got to look at. We created some really good chances to score. We have a good squad. Once everyone is healthy it’s going to be a selection issue for me. You can’t have enough good players around."
"I think that the guys that played on the weekend did a fantastic job of playing well and creating chances and in the end seeing that game through when we needed it. We needed that badly. We needed those three points. And we said before, It doesn’t matter how we get it but we’ve just got to get the three points somehow. We can work on general play and all the other things that go on and play some good football but in the end we’ve just got to win. For sixty minutes we played great and were winning and then we kind of hit a wall and got a little bit nervous and tried to hang onto the lead and it didn’t go well so we’ll work on that this week. We’ll make sure they’re aware of that type of thing and move forward and learn from it."
"I’ve been happy with the performance but just not the results. We worked on the set plays. We didn’t give any up and the effort showed. We scored on of our own this weekend. This group is evolving and listening and learning as we move forward and I’ve been pleased with the attitude. To grind that game out and win it was important for our psyche."
- Midfielder Ross Jenkins' last training session with the team was Monday morning. “We just wanted to look at him with a view towards maybe doing something in the summer or in the future. I just wanted to have a look at him. Marc Bircham knows him well," said Yallop. Jenkins apparently did "okay" and could be an option somewhere down the line.
- Alex was originally in he 18 on Sunday but was a late scratch due to a hamstring issue. The injury is not serious.
- The Fire announced that Alex Kann has been loaned to Saint Louiss FC.
- The team's other loanee, Patrick Doody played 90 minutes in a 2-0 loss to Louisville City.
- Harry Shipp was named to MLS' team of the week.
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