The Fire were idle this past weekend but they’ll be missing several key players for the Wednesday night match at home against DC United. Frank Yallop told reporters via conference call on Monday afternoon that Shaun Maloney is out and David Accam is doubtful for the game. Matt Polster will also be missing due to yellow card accumulation.
Maloney was removed late in the second half of the US Open Cup game against Louisville City with what was originally thought to be back spasms. An MRI on Friday revealed a bulging disk that will keep him out of action for longer than had been hoped. “We’re not exactly sure (how long),” said Yallop. “I would think two to three weeks. I think that’s the least. The more it goes on, the more we can get a gauge after a week (and see) if it’s settling down. He’s seeing a specialist (Monday afternoon).”
With one DP missing, the Fire will go into the match against the Eastern Conference leaders without another. Accam is nursing a hamstring injury that has kept him out of training since returning from international duty. “He’s probably struggling (for Wednesday) to be honest. He’s not trained. He came back with an injury from Ghana. Not ideal, obviously. I doubt if he’ll be available,” said Yallop.
Harry Shipp and Jeff Larentowicz are both fine and ready to go for the match according to Yallop.
The Fire could have Mike Magee available again as well. Magee trained fully on Monday after missing time last week and the last two games due to a hamstring tweak. “We’ll find out more (Tuesday), if he comes in a little stiff and sore but he got through training today.”
Polster’s US future
Matt Polster won’t be available for this game but the Fire have some options in central midfield that can fill in. Razvan Cocis, Michael Stephens, Matt Watson, and Chris Ritter can all play centrally while the rookie serves a one-game mandatory suspension. Yallop said that he expects him to get opportunities in the near future with the US Olympic squad. “He’ll get his chances, I’m sure with that group. They’ve had a couple of camps so far. It’s usually guys who don’t get many minutes with teams or they have coverage in areas and let their players go. He’ll get his chances later in the rest of the year with the Olympic team,” he said.
Polster has been an important player for the team this season and showed his versatility by starting a centerback against Louisville in the USOC game last week. “It was a chance for me to look at him at centerback with Jeff having a slight groin issue. I see him in our team at this particular time as a center midfielder. I think he’s got all the traits to be a good center midfielder and center back. We’ve seen him early in the midfield in MLS play but I thought he would do fine in the back in the game at midweek. I wouldn’t put it past us to try it there again or play him there. I think he can handle it,” said Yallop.
The next opponent in the US Open Cup tournament will be the Charlotte Independence, who knocked out New England last week. The Fire struggled against USL side Louisville City, so Yallop wasn’t discounting the June 30 game. “Two MLS teams got knocked out. It’s never an easy game. It showed that we didn’t play particularly well. We got through that match. Yeah, you want to play and you want to win 4-0 but it doesn’t always work out that way. The good thing is we got through and we got another home draw against another opponent who is in the second division but it’s not going to be easy. These games are tough,” he said.
The Fire will first focus on the DC United game and then begin preparation for next week’s USOC fifth round contest. “We’ve just to get make sure we get through each round and how we win games right now is kind of irrelevant. We’ve got to win games. We’ve played some exciting stuff at home but at this point we’ve just got to get results.”
Jon Busch has started the last five league games but Sean Johnson was back in the starting line-up for the USOC match and played well. While he wasn’t tipping his hand on the choice for the DC game, Yallop did hint that Johnson could be back in the first eleven soon. “I thought Sean did well. He’s had a few games out. We talked about the reason why and he looked a lot more like himself from last year, I felt. That little break has done really good. I thought he played well on Tuesday. He didn’t have a ton to do but he look assured. I’ll see, obviously I’m not giving the line-up away but we’ll see what Wednesday night lays ahead for us,” he said.
Canada international Jackson training
Simeon Jackson, a 28 year old forward who plays for the Canadian national team has been training with the team for the last week. He is out of contract and most recently played on the club level with Coventry City in England’s third tier. Jackson is training in order to keep fit for the upcoming Gold Cup but there is some interest in him from Chicago. “A bit of both,” said Yallop of Jackson’s training run with the team. “Simeon, I’ve seen and inquired a little bit two or three years ago when I was at San Jose. He’s someone I’m familiar with. Marc (Bircham) has worked with him closely in England. He’s in right now just to train. A bit like Anton (Ferdinand), it’s a chance for these guys to come in and see what we’re all about over here. Numbers-wise, with our injuries it was good to have him because he’s helped out. He’s looked pretty sharp. But we’ll have to see. Right now he’s property of Vancouver on the discovery (list), so they’re the first ones that can make an offer for him or include him in their team if they want to do. It would be down the line. He’s just training right now.”
The Fire have allowed eight goals over the last three league games (all losses) and defensive shape and consistency is a concern. It’s something that has apparently been a focus of recent training sessions. “We’ve worked on it in practice. I think practice has been pretty sharp the last few days after our win in the Cup. We all saw the game. We didn’t play particularly well and looked a bit disjointed but we got through it and we won. That’s something that breeds confidence. A lot of MLS teams will tell you that one result or one thing that changes and all of a sudden you start to feel good about yourself and you seem to get on a run. I’m hoping that’s the issue here. We’ve had some tough games in the last three in MLS. We played DC away and got beat but now we’re at home so we’re hoping we can jump on the front foot and get three points and put is right back into the playoff picture,” said Yallop.
“We’re banged up a little but right now but I’m excited about the prospects and how we’re going to play and our fight for Wednesday night because it’s an important game for us.”
- Check out the latest episode of the Fire Confidential Live podcast. It’s a guest free show and this time and we tackle a variety of questions and comments submitted by supporters.
- Chris Rolfe returns to Toyota Park with DC United in this match. Rolfe was traded for allocation money to DC last April and the move has resulted in a big resurgence to his career after struggling to find his form in 2013 with the Fire. Yallop wasn’t regretting the move but did say he was happy to see Rolfe succeed. “Goal scoring for us, we’re okay on that front. He’s done well there. I’m pleased for Chris,” he said.