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.
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."