Thanks to consecutive wins the Fire are looking upwards with an off week and eleven days to prepare for their next match in Montreal. Frank Yallop is using the time to continue working on getting everyone on the same page now that he has most of the pieces fit and available. “We’d love to play another game right away because you feel very confident but I don’t think the confidence is going to drop for us (in) training for the two weeks,” said Yallop during his weekly media conference call. “The spirit is very high right now.”
Injured players will utilize the break as an opportunity to mend and heal. Michael Stephens was stepped on early in the Toronto match and had to leave as a result of the injury but Yallop doesn’t expect it’s serious enough for him to miss any games. “Mike Stephens has got a bad knock. He rolled his ankle so we’ll see how he progresses in the next 48 hours. I expect him to be okay for the next game,” he said.
Another player who could be back in time for Montreal is goalkeeper Sean Johnson. He suffered an eye injury in training last week that forced him out of action against Toronto and the Fire will find out more about his status today. “Sean is seeing the eye specialist this afternoon and should be okay to continue training after that. We don’t know yet but we’ll find out today,” said Yallop.
Johnson may be back for Montreal but his long term future with the Fire has been a source of speculation since the 25 year old goalkeeper has expressed his desire to try his hand overseas and there is some potential interest in his services from abroad. His time with the US Men’s National Team has helped him garner some attention but Yallop said nothing is imminent at the moment.
“The discussion with Sean has always been for Sean and I, on trying to make it in Europe, whether it’s Europe or somewhere overseas. Until the time comes and a bid comes in, he’s our player. We don’t talk about it often at all. We talked at the end of the (2014) season, that he’d love to play in the Premier League and in the UK. Maybe not right away but in the end wouldn’t mind trying to do that if he’s good enough and someone deems him to be good enough,” said Yallop. “It’s up to someone else to come to us with a bid and nobody’s done that as yet. We’re not really going and trying to sell him. If it comes along then we’ll deal with it, if not we’ll just get on with what we’re doing.”
The Fire quietly signed Johnson to a contract extension last year but the feeling has been that he would have an opportunity sooner rather than later. With that in mind if the right offer comes along the Fire won’t stand in his way but the extension ensures that the club would receive compensation if he were to make a move.
Shipp and the USMNT
Harry Shipp’s play early this season has built on his very successful rookie campaign and some have called for him to get a look from Jurgen Klinsmann for the upcoming match against Mexico on April 18. So far that call hasn’t come yet though. “I’ve heard nothing on Harry. Until we get some sort of official paper work or request we’ll know. As of right now there’s nothing,” said Yallop about the possibility.
Shipp’s form has also led some to speculate that he may be getting looks from overseas as well but there is nothing legitimate on that front either. “Nothing I’ve heard on Harry right now. He’s concentrating on what he’s doing here. I’ve heard nothing from anybody on that,” said Yallop of possible suitors abroad.
Newly acquired midfielder Victor Perez enters his second week of training with the Fire and has looked good according to Yallop but don’t expect to see him in the starting eleven come April 18. Perez will need to beat out Matt Polster and Michael Stephens for one of the central midfield spots and Yallop doesn’t see an immediate need to adjust that position after two straight victories. “I don’t think a starting spot (for Perez in Montreal). I think the guys earn their right to play and it depends on the team I select but we’ve got some good options to go with,” said Yallop. Perez played a few minutes against Toronto but Yallop isn’t using that outing to judge how much or when he can help. “He trained well today and we’ll keep assessing him and see how it pans out and how it goes.”
“Everything is earned. You can’t just walk into any team. He’s got to prove to me that he’s good enough, committed enough and all those things that come into it to make the team. He’s a good player but Mike Stephens and Matt Polster have played very well and you’ve got to knock those guys out of the spot. I think that Chris Ritter has done a good job of doing what he needed to do in this match. It gives me options. There’s no god given right, like with Kennedy, to play. If Quincy’s giving me a little but more and doing what I want him to do and he’s doing okay with it then Kennedy’s got to knock him out of his spot or play with him or whatever I decide in the line up,” said Yallop.
Designated player Kennedy Igboananike had a good run against TFC as well and Yallop says the player is making progress towards possibly earning a start. “I think he did well. If you look at the stuff he did, he layed in Harry for his chance. He played David back perfectly for his chance in the second half. I think he clipped one over to somebody on the edge of the box to David again to get his shot blocked. For his time, in twenty minutes he had three really good plays where he set some guys up. Unselfishly on the one chance, he breaks the line of defense and then he rolls it to David to attempt at goal. He’s getting there. It’s all about confidence and all about popping the ball in. You have Quincy who hasn’t scored and neither has Kennedy so we need to those guys to obviously start to get on the score sheet at some point. I’ve been pleased with his contribution. He’s a great kid and he’s working hard. As I always say, it takes some guys a little more time to settle. Maybe he’s one of those.”
Where does Magee fit?
Mike Magee is getting closer to returning to full training. Once fit, his presence will give Yallop even more options in squad selection with Magee’s ability to play as a forward or a midfielder. Where he eventually ends up hasn’t been set in stone yet however. “I’ll assess it as we move on how we’re doing. It’s still a few weeks so it’s not really in my thoughts as of now,” said Yallop.
“I have my thoughts on where I’m going to play him but it’s irrelevant right now talking about it. Mike’s a player that if not usually, always gets on the field and does his thing. As long as he’s fit and healthy and raring to go, he’s a difficult guy to keep out and he’s a definite plus when he comes back playing for us. He’ll find his way onto the field. I’m sure we’ll figure out where he’s going to play once we get that all clear.”
Filed under: 2015 Regular Season