Fire notes - more on Alex trade, schedule moves

Fire notes - more on Alex trade, schedule moves
Chicago Fire midfielder Alex (71) plays the ball against Chivas USA. Photo by Sean King.

Frank Yallop's weekly conference call was about more than just rescheduled contests thanks to a Monday morning trade that sent Brazilian midfielder Alex to the Houston Dynamo in exchange for forward Jason Johnson. Yallop described the trade as a one that could benefit all parties since Alex wasn't likely to see much playing time due to the emergence of Matt Polster, the addition of Victor Perez, and the team's depth in midfield. "It's kind of a two-pronged move," said Yallop. "It clears up some cap space for next season and gives Alex a chance of getting some more playing time with another club."

The Fire have acquired a player in Jones that came out of college two years ago and earned a Generation Adidas contract but he's failed to find a steady place with the Dynamo first team. “He’s a young player that hasn’t played that much in Houston. I thought he was good in college and in the combine. I think it’s just a good opportunity for us to add a young striker to our core. (He’s) left footed, powerful, and can play wide left or up front. I think he’s a raw talent. Sometimes just a change of scenery gets these guys moving in the right direction," said Yallop.

"We talked a little bit with some clubs about possible trades and this one came up and we thought about it long and hard and I just think it makes sense. Alex has been great for us, he’s a good kid. I just thought that keeping him here and not playing him wasn’t helping him or us. That was the reason for the trade," he explained.  Yallop also added that the Fire are not looking for another trade or short term move at the moment.

Time off

As a result of the two rescheduled matches, the Fire are in the midst of what will be almost three weeks without a league game following their best outing of the young season. Agreeing to move the originally scheduled April 15 game against the Revolution does not look good now that MLS has essentially forced a move to accommodate the Montreal Impact's foray into the CONCACAF Final against Club America. “Ideally, we don’t want that," said Yallop of the long break. "We’ve got some momentum with two wins in a row and looking forward to playing again. We moved the New England game to give us every opportunity to get a good result in Montreal and obviously that game is gone now so our next match is in eleven or so days time. Not ideal, but like I always say, we’ve just got to get on with it and be prepared for that next game once it comes."

"In hindsight, we’d love to play the New England game now knowing that the other one’s been moved. I wanted a free week running up to the Montreal game, that’s one of the reasons that we as a club agreed to moving the New England game for a free weekend in June which seems to make sense for everybody."

When asked if the Fire had a choice in the matter of rescheduling the Montreal game, Yallop's response told the story. "The game is moved," he said. "Once it's done, its done. Would we have preferred to have played? Absolutely. I understand the reason why and I have to accept it."

The Fire did not receive any additional compensation for agreeing to move the Montreal game as the league apparently decided that it was more important to put the best possible effort forward in the CCL Final. "The league had input and basically changed the game," said Yallop. "We're just taking it as it is."

The Fire are looking to fill the void this coming weekend with some sort of friendly or exhibition match. “We’re working on some stuff right now. We’re trying to get a competitive game this weekend so we can stay game sharp. We played a good 11 on 11 intra-squad game last weekend that went very well. Everyone played 75 minutes. I think we want a competitive match to make sure we’re not beating each other up."

On the positive side, rescheduling the two matches may give Yallop some additional personnel options to work with that he would not have had this month. "Hopefully we’ll have Mike Magee and Patrick Nyarko for those two games so that’s maybe a plus from our side," he said.

On Palmer v Gehrig

Yallop addressed the decision to continue starting Eric Gehrig over Lovel Palmer, who seems to be a more natural fit at right back.“(Palmer) has done nothing wrong. He’s played pretty well this season like all of our players. It’s just a coach’s choice if you like. I felt that JJ (Joevin Jones) at left back and Eric at right back at this point is what I wanted to go with. Lovel has trained very well the last week. He’s got his head up and he’s ready to go and ready to fight for his spot. It comes along, as you know with injuries, suspension, and lack of form, people get their chances again. Lovel is a good professional who’s been around the game a long time so he knows that. It’s good to have him and he’s ready, willing, and able once he gets a shot again."

On Shipp's development

“Once you’ve had a full season you can reflect on that. We went back on Harry’s (2014) season and I think he was physically not quite as strong as I would have liked and he would have liked. He’s worked on it during the offseason and he’s a lot stronger this year. He’s doing very well with the ball. It was mainly without the ball and helping out the team defensively (where improvement was needed) and he’s done that well. I’ve played him wide left, wide right, and I’ve played him underneath. As all good players, they figure it out. He just gets on the ball and does his thing no matter what position he’s in. I’ve been very pleased with Harry’s performance so far this season and hopefully he just keeps going and going."

On Homegrown player Collin Fernandez

“We’re trying to figure out what we’re going to do with him. I’m working with his agent right now to hopefully get him on loan somewhere. He’s a ways away from the first team right now. It’s a big jump from high school and the academy soccer to jumping into MLS. When he’s ready, willing, and able I think he’ll be fine but we just have get a good development path for him right now. He’s looked pretty good in training and he’s growing in confidence so who knows, at some point we could be seeing Collin on the field with us. It’s a long drawn out process to get a young player from the academy right into the first team."

On Amarikwa's lack of goals

“He’s doing his job creating chances for other players. Just the way he plays, he’s 100% committed to working hard for the team and his goals will come. He’s not a prolific goal scorer when you look at his record but what he does, he does very well for the team and a lot of the time it goes unnoticed but not by his teammates and by the staff and other teams. I don’t think it’s wearing on him but strikers want to score. At some point we want to get him off the mark so he feels he’s contributing by scoring goals, which is his job."

Filed under: 2015 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • I like the trade with Houston. We need forwards, and maybe this new kid will blossom here.

    I continue to be impressed by Yallop and Bliss and the moves they have made since last season ended.

    We are fortunate to have this management team in place here in Chicago. A big thumbs up to Andrew Hauptman for bringing them in.

    I am looking forward to the rest of the season.

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:


    I really like this move because we dumped near-worthless 5th string depth for an off cap player.

    St. Louis potentially really likes this move, too, but c'mon, I'd be surprised if Johnson gets more than 400 minutes with the Fire.

    Still, better in a pinch than Fondy, amirite?

  • Don't know if I agree with Yallop about Palmer and Gehrig. I like having Gehrig as depth or even starting sometimes, he seems to fill the "5th defender" role much better than anyone the Fire had last year (i.e. he compares very favorably to Ianni). Palmer looks shaky at times and isn't a great defender, but he still seems to have better positional awareness than Gehrig. RB is going to be a tough position for the Fire because of the lack of rmids that don't pinch in all the time.

    I don't get the criticism against the Fire about rescheduling the Montreal game. I get that it's silly for a schedule standpoint, but there's no way the league has that game happen if it harms the Impact's chances against America (although with Soumare at the Azteca, I'd say those chances are hovering just below...0%). I guess they could have thought ahead before rescheduling the Revs game, but yeah, hindsight's 20/20.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    Our right backs since 2011:

    Berry (I believe it lasted all of one game)
    Did Pantazopoulos ever start/sub there? Perhaps a USOC?

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Pari only played LB for the Fire, and that was only in a friendly (against Chivas, I believe?)

    I would really only say it was Gargan, Anibaba, Palmer, and Gehrig, honestly. Anyone else that played there only did so out of absolute necessity, they weren't positionally considered as RB's.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    I probably need to add Ianni to the list, now that I think about it.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    That was kind of my point- the right back position has been filled by regular starters, but also plugged with an ensemble of people, many of which this was not their natural spot. Basically, this has been a quiet positional issue that seems to alter between active/inactive like a volcano (2014 being a recent dormant period when Palmer had a good season and locked down the spot.)

    Pari did sub in to the ManU friendly right before stoppage time. Maybe also against Chivas. The summer friendlies don't stick in my memory.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    Keeping Gehrig on as a RB is helpful for the 2 cb's. Gehrig knows that he is not going to be bombing up and down the wing like Palmer will. We need to make sure that we have some players behind the ball when we have possession. Palmer isn't a better defender but he might be better going forward. We dont really need a defender to go forward when we have Jones back there. Id rather have Jones going forward and Gehrig stay back than have both Jones and Palmer going forward. If Jones is playing as a LB, then Gehrig will most likely stay at RB, IMO.

  • All down hill from the Gargan.

    Pari Pants I don't believe played any competitive games.

  • Gehrig is not an outside back. Palmer is better, but he still is not great. While Palmer can get a cross in, he is unable to pick anyone out with his crosses so in effect he is sending the ball to the keeper. No loss sitting him from an offensive perspective. Gehrig gets caught up field leaving the CBs exposed. Some of that is the fact that the DM does not track back to help fill space when he goes forward. Either way, the Fire are not going anywhere fast wither G or P at right back. "A big thumbs up to Andrew Hauptman..." Seriously? That guy does not deserve anything except a Bronx cheer.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    We will have to agree to disagree about Hauptman. I think he is doing a fine job.

    I think fans are too impatient and are way to quick to criticize. And, criticizing the owner is about as unoriginal as it gets.

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:

    Yeah! What the heck! It's only been eight years or so. Give the guy a chance! (I'm kidding, I hope.)

  • In reply to Arklow:

    In all honesty, I have to say Hauptman IS doing a decent job (maybe even good) since the end of the last miserable season. But the state of affairs had grown so bad that it's hard to say whether Andy got his head together or MLS was cracking down on him over his previous failure to perform or spend money. Until this year it seemed obvious he just figured he would have fun playing owner, then sell the franchise at a profit when MLS gained stature. Perhaps Garber just suggestively showed Andy the corpse of Chivas USA to remind him that he might end up with nothing.

    Even with the off season and early season personnel action that appears to be producing fruit, it's hard to forgive Andy for the many years of inaction. And I find myself wondering who the newly appeared Charles Joques may be and whether he has some employment connection to the Fire.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    All of this is true.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I have no connection to the Fire outside of being a season ticket holder.

    Just because I refuse to join the chorus of critics, does not mean I am a stooge for the team.

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:

    How many years does it take you to become impatient? I give you a lot of credit for your patience...I'd love to have you as my boss.

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    Agreed. I think patience is still in order with Yallop (much, much easier to way after a couple victories, a thrilling, entertaining match against Toronto, and POW performance from Maloney). Hauptmann seems to have loosened up the purse strings a bit this year.

    I tend to think that there's a plan in place that first sought some improvements off the field (revamped marketing, opening the new facility on the north side) before investing in the roster. With the perplexing increases in attendance last year encouraging the front office, it was decided that if fans could be seduced to see a boring and mediocre team flounder around TP seeking to limit the damage inflicted on it by teams whose owners had some skin in the game, then they would come out in even bigger numbers for an upgraded team with a bit of offensive panache. I think the attendance payoffs are yet to come this season because of the weather but I'll take the on-field improvements if they continue.

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    I an patient and loyal. If winning was easy everyone would be doing it. I support my team through good times and bad.

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    I also recognize that the people in charge are human beings so are working hard and trying to build a winner.

    I am not going to throw stones at them when they stumble.

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:

    If you want to blindly support the Fire regardless of what happens, that's fine. But you need to understand that's not what we do here. I think everyone here supports the Fire in one way or another but this is a forum for honest reporting and discussion.

    If you wish to blindly support the Fire and don't wish to hear any honest analysis of performance you need to head for the ticket window, the team store, and the happy news reporting on the Fire web site while avoiding this place like the plague. You are, of course, welcome to visit here. Just understand, that you will be exposed to a lively discussion of performance at all levels. We don't do this to offend you. We do it because we are passionate about our Fire.

  • Charles Jogues writes an awful lot like Don here and onTwittr.

    Just saying.

  • In reply to seaside:

    Well, we certainly don't want anyone writing positive things about the team, do we?

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