Sean Johnson’s aborted short term loan move to Montreal was the main topic of conversation during Frank Yallop’s weekly media conference call. Yallop explained the situation and told reporters he wasn’t thrilled with EPSN’s Sunday halftime coverage in which Taylor Twellman seemed to indicate that a loan deal had been completed while discussing the possibility with former Red Bulls coach Mike Petke. “They (Montreal) inquired with their injury situation and also a suspension situation. They inquired with the league if they could do a short term loan with any goalkeepers in MLS and in the league. Sean was on the list as one of those possible guys to be loaned. Before we got going the league had to approve it and we had to say yes,” Yallop explained. “Before we even got to anything the league didn’t do it, and it was a bit premature seeing it on TV that he’s been loaned out because it was not true and I wasn’t very happy with it to be honest.”
The loan had been discussed as a possibility internally with the Fire and according to Yallop, the team was waiting on final word from MLS on whether or not they could proceed with talks since CONCACAF had approved short term loans. “First of all we needed to ask Sean. I don’t need to say what he said but the next (question was) is it going to go through and what are we getting out of it as a club. There were a lot of scenarios going into it and is it the right thing we want to do. I was just kind of dumfounded, that all of a sudden I’m watching TV and I’m getting told that one of our players is going and it’s not true,” he said.
When asked if the Fire would have proceeded with the loan if MLS had indeed approved the next step in the transaction, Yallop didn’t expand or address the potential compensation coming back to Chicago since the move was closed down before it got to the point of more negotiation. “It didn’t get to that point, so there was no question. We would have discussed it obviously, but once it got (back) that it was a no, it was a no and we moved on. What I would have, and what I might have done is kind of irrelevant. It is what it is. It wasn’t approved, so end of story,” said Yallop.
The loan move was a real possibility this weekend with Montreal looking to find a replacement for suspended first choice goalkeeper Evan Bush. The Fire were approached and at least entertained the idea but not without something coming back in their direction. “If they (MLS) had called me up and said we’re going to okay it and you’ve got to decide now, then it’s different. But it never was a decision we had to make at that point,” he said.
Whether or not Montreal and MLS were in the right for even broaching the topic is one thing. What it would have taken for the Fire to risk their starting goalkeeper for a one day loan is another. “You can’t blame them for asking,” said Yallop.
Magee and Nyarko getting closer to return
The Fire are on an upswing with three consecutive victories and the return of two talented veterans can only help. Both Mike Magee and Patrick Nyarko are making progress towards returns from injuries and should be able to contribute sometime in the near future. “They’re doing well,” said Yallop. “Mike is stepping up his on-field activity and Patrick now has started to do a lot of straight ahead running. Today he’s going to start some cutting. I’m not sure if he’s done that yet but he’s pretty close to cutting and really turning and getting used to the knee in a stressed situation. They’re getting there.”
The Fire were expecting both players back in May or June barring setbacks and it seems both are on track for that. “I expect them sometime in June. Hopefully it’s closer to the start of June than to the end of it. I think that’s what we’re looking at. Both are in good spirits, both look great,” said Yallop. “Both of them are really 100% behind the team and enjoying what’s going in the team at the moment. They’re excited to get back.”
Guly do Prado started on Friday against New York and Quincy Amarikwa came in off the bench after dealing with injury issues of his own last week. Yallop said he isn’t concerned with the lack of scoring from the position just yet, stressing patience and time for confidence to grow as one of the three current choices may start to click. “Obviously the strikers are in there to score and be dangerous around the goal. All of them, Quincy, Kennedy, and Guly have contributed to the team especially in the last three or four games in playing well and doing well. It’s always a tough one because strikers want to score and they feel that they let their team down if they haven’t scored. Again, it’s early. It’s about confidence as well. As soon as they get one, whoever is going to get it, I’m sure will be off to the races and that will catch the other guys up. Sometimes goals come in bunches and sometimes they don’t come at all. We’ve just got to stay patient with these guys, see it through and see where we are in the middle of the season but I’m not sitting here going - we’ve got to get a striker. We don’t. I think these guys have worked very hard, all three of them and they’re trying their best to get on the end of stuff and they’ve been close. Maybe Guly has only had the one start but Kennedy and Quincy have been very close in the games they’ve played to scoring goals. If they didn’t have any chances and were struggling it would be a different story but we’ve played pretty well and they’ve all been a big part of that.”
Once Magee returns, his name will be added to the mix along with the possibility of other tactical options such as Accam and Shipp playing closer to goal. “What I like is that they’re all versatile. Mike Magee can play midfield or up front. Kennedy can play up front or wide, Harry can do the same and Shaun can do the same. It’s about fitting them all in where they’re comfortable. It will be good to have Patrick and Mike adding to the squad that we have already because it makes it better. I’ve just got to figure out the best combination of players. I’m sure these guys are going to figure it out. It usually gets figured out on the field, someone grabs a hold of it and runs away with certain positions but up front has been different. Kennedy has not really had much of chance in the last little while so, I won’t use the word frustrated but he wants to get a chance to play and I don’t disagree. In the game on Friday I felt the need to get another guy like Guly to have running the gaps a little bit in 60 or so minutes. I just felt we needed that force up front rather than having the pace.”
Perez not in the 18
Victor Perez did not dress for the game on Friday although he was available. Perez was acquired with the thought of improving in central midfield but the emergence of Matt Polster has solidified the position in a somewhat unexpected fashion. The rookie has contributed sooner than even the technical staff expected, making Perez’s fight for playing time a difficult one. “He’s fit and training. I just chose to not dress him this weekend,” said Yallop of the Spanish midfielder. “We brought him in as a player to compete and for us to look at. If he’s good enough and I want to play him then I’ll play him for sure. I’ve got no issues with that.
Whether or not Perez fits an immediate need now that Polster has laid claim to the two-way midfielder’s role is something Yallop is considering. “When you get to work with players a lot closer, (you ask) is he the type I want to keep and play. He got five minutes three weeks ago and we’ve got Razvan Cocis who’s back now. Matt Watson was good on Friday and we’ve got Matt Polster in the middle. There’s great competition for places and we had this deal in the works for ten weeks when we had no Cocis and Matt Polster was a rookie and we weren’t sure and all those things. We did the deal and it is what it is. We’ll find out if Victor gets a chance to play. He’s a good player, it’s just that we’ve got decide if he’s the type we want to keep and play here,” said Yallop.
Three in a row
The Fire’s third consecutive win has them placed among the top five in the East and Yallop has seen the early going as a work in progress. “We started slowly with losing three in a row so you always have some semi-doubts. After the Vancouver game at home we weren’t that bad, just poor in transition against a team that was good in transition. The San Jose game I felt we were pretty close to getting there. Just to get those wins now and the confidence is rising in the squad and in the building. Any time you’re around a winning team everything is not a problem. Training is really exciting and fun to be around these guys. We’re in a better state of mind. Obviously we don’t take our foot off the gas in what we’re trying to do as a coaching staff and fitness wise but it’s a much happier place to be. Three losses in a row we could have crumbled but we didn’t. We picked ourselves up and got our first win, got the second win, and got the third win now. We’re looking up. We’re not going to win every game, we know that, but I feel that our performances have been pretty good.”
- Jeff Larentowicz picked up a slight ankle knock and did not train on Monday but will be available for the Sporting Kansas City game on Sunday.
- Michael Stephens is participating in full practice.
- Fire opponents have been shown red cards in three consecutive games. All victories. That is probably not a coincidence. “When you go a man up in any game, you feel that you’ve got the upper hand. One thing I will say, is that the cards have come because of our play and that’s encouraging. That’s important to note,” said Yallop.
- David Accam has been named to MLS Team of the Week.