Fire notebook - USOC, transfer window help, Hauptman frustrated, and more

The Fire will look to take the first step on the road to a fifth US Open Cup title tonight with a fourth round match against USL side Louisville City FC. Frank Yallop told reporters during his weekly conference call on Monday morning that he will likely field a mostly first choice line-up against the third division team. "We’ve got to win the game. It’s a tournament that this club really took serious and I’m taking it serious. The whole coaching staff, players, we want to get on the right track. We want to get a win, especially at home and get into the next round," said Yallop.

"It’s no different to any year. This is important. We’ve lost three games in a row now in our league. This is a cup competition but I look at the cup as the same as our league. We want to win every game we go into. We’re putting as much into this as all of the other games we’ve tried to win this season. No different. It’s a tournament that we want to do well in because it’s got history here. We’re desperate to do well. We want to win this first game but we want to do well in the whole tournament."

Shaun Maloney may be available on the bench depending on fatigue after travel following Scotland's 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland on Saturday. David Accam and Joevin Jones will not be available for selection however. According to Yallop, Mike Magee is still recovering from "slight hamstring" and Patrick Nyarko is "not quite ready" for a competitive match yet. The core group of players that started the last match in New England will likely be on the pitch tonight against Louisville. "The slight problem we have is that we played Saturday night with a depleted team and that group has to kind of go again because we don’t have the international guys back," said Yallop while indicating that he will field as strong a team as possible. "This is a very big game for us. We want to come out flying and get a big result against Louisville."

Chicago is still smarting from a 6-0 loss at the hands of the Seattle Sounders in last year's USOC semi-final but want a chance to at least advance to that stage again. "The club was hurt by that. I think we did pretty well to get into the semi-final, which is always a bonus. We were not ready to play that game and we got out asses handed to us in that match. It still stings but each year is different and each round is different. We’ve got to focus straight away on Louisville, beating them and then moving on and getting as far as we can. Obviously we want to win it, but talk is cheap. We could say we want to win the cup and then turn out and not play well and lose. Each game is important," said Yallop.

Time to step up

With the half way point in the season quickly approaching, the Fire are reaching a crossroad where another string of losses could push them into the desperation mode that has seen them attempt furious comebacks in the second half of the campaign only to fall short of qualifying for post season. The turnaround from a 4-8-2 start has to begin now and Yallop is aware of it. "Any time there’s bad results you look for a reason why and what for. Things change quickly. We played Orlando last week and they were below us. Now they just won two games in a row and they’re in a playoff position. As we know, things can change quickly, but....we’ve got to win. (There's) no better start than getting a good result in the Cup. If you can beat DC in the next game at home then you can start looking forward to the other games. Once we get to full strength I’m excited about the prospect of us doing well. In the meantime we’ve got to find a way to get results. Any time you don’t get results confidence starts to wane a bit. You go out and you don’t look like you’re going to win," he said.

Yallop feels that the Fire have played well enough to win in most recent games, with the possible exception of the New England match and the second half in DC, the team performances haven't been bad. "We’ve got to make sure that we’ve have the mindset that we feel that we can win games, and not get into the trap of hoping to win it. Going out and expecting to win, especially at home. Our next two games (are) at home, it’s very important to get two wins in those," he said.

The Fire are treating this match and the upcoming June 24 game against DC United as must-win contests. “We want to do well, not just in the Cup we want to get a win and get going again. It looks like we’re a little bit streaky. Lose three in a row and win three in a row. We haven’t done that since (the first six games of the season). The Montreal game was in the middle of a tough-ish stretch but we want to get on a good run where we play 6 or 7 games and you get at least four wins. Then you’re in the picture. I still feel sick from Saturday’s result and still feel that with all of our players together that we’re not that bad of a side but we’ve got to figure it out quick. Games slip by, other teams are playing each other and those points are going. We need to stop the bleeding and get going."

That all starts with winning at home. "Losing three in a row to conference opponents is not good. Two have been away but the one at home is the one where you’ve got to get maximum points. If you do well at home, like most (successful) teams do in our league, that’s where you get most of your maximum points and we didn’t do that," he acknowledged.

July window help?

With MLS' summer transfer window opening on July 8, the Fire will be looking for help but no moves are imminent just yet. “We’re forever looking. I’m trying to get the right balance to win games," said Yallop. "We’ve improved in our general play but obviously we’re not winning. We’re conceding tons of goals, which is never good for any team. It’s a thing that evolves, and you’ve got to stay with it and make sure that you’re picking the right guys to fill out in the areas where you feel you’re a little bit weak. We’re forever looking and whether there’s someone coming in the window, I have no idea. We’re going to attempt to try and change things in the window, like every club is. Whether it’s significant or not depends on who you can get."

The Fire currently have seven of eight international spots filled after the option on Victor Perez was not exercised. Clearing the cap/budget space required for a substantial move will require some work however.

Hauptman frustrated

Yallop said that Fire owner Andrew Hauptman is on the same page with the technical staff when it comes to the direction of the club and shares in the sentiment felt over another difficult start. “He’s frustrated. I speak to him very regular, if not at least every few days. I feel that he likes the look of the team and the way that we’re trying to play. Obviously results have not reflected the change in the way we’ve played. That’s always frustrating. It’s going to take a while to really get an idea, but we can’t have games slipping by and losing points. We’re undermanned a little bit, but still we should be able to go anywhere and get a result. New England is never easy to go to. DC is never easy. I think the Orlando game is the one that really sticks in my mind where we let points go after playing well enough to win the match. He’s frustrated as I am. He wants to win and that’s the reason he’s put money in and really pushing for us to do well. He’s one hundred percent with what we’re trying to do, but obviously results have not been good lately," he said.

A report out of Scotland suggested that Hauptman had increased the pressure to win recently in a quote attribute to Shaun Maloney. Yallop said that there has been no change in directive from ownership  in recent weeks however. “I think he may have been misquoted because there’s no change. The push was made in January by Andrew to help the team out and inject a lot of money to help us. I haven’t spoken to Andrew or Shaun about it because the first thing I’ve heard about it was (today). It could have been (said) maybe months (ago) or at the start of the year.”

Fernandez back with the Fire

The Fire have recalled midfielder Collin Fernandez from loan at Louisville City FC. He will be available for selection by Yallop against the team that he currently plays for. Fernandez appeared in two matches last week. The decision to send him to Louisville rather than USL-affiliate Saint Louis FC had to do with how much time the homegrown player would see on the pitch. "He’ll be with us (for the USOC game) because of numbers. They didn’t really need that spot in Saint Louis and we didn’t want to play him out of position. We wanted to get him some minutes and get him some time in a position in a club that’s going to play him," explained Yallop.

Cochrane at left mid

Greg Cochrane got a start on the left side against New England but it was in midfield rather than at fullback, where he has appeared mostly while with the Fire. With options limited on the outside due to the absence of Accam and Jones this past weekend, Yallop gave Cochrane a look citing a search for balance in the side. "I thought Greg did fine in the game. That’s not the reason we lost. You’ve got a squad of players that you look at and you want to plug in here and there and I felt a little bit of pace (could help). He’s played there before in college and a little bit with the Galaxy. He’s mainly a left back but he has played a little bit of left side midfield. Just to kind of stretch the line a few times, which he kind of did a little bit in the first half. He didn’t get a chance to do much in the second half since he only played sixty minutes. In the end we were 2-0 down and I wanted to change it. I thought he did okay," he said.

Fondy returns

Former Fire forward Matt Fondy returns to Toyota Park with Louisville City after spending the second half of last season with the Fire. "Matt’s a guy I liked in MLS in the limited time he got before he came to us. I thought he did well. He excels at the USL/NASL level for sure. He scores goals, he’s dangerous. He works hard. I was hoping it worked out that way for us with everything, but it didn’t. Maybe it wasn’t the best scenario last year with us but he’s done well with Louisville," said Yallop.


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  • So will anything happen if the Fire lose their next 2 or even their next 4?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Your guess is as good as mine there. That said, I don't see them making a coaching change this season.

  • "Hauptman frustrated"

    Thanks for remembering to include a little good news! :P

  • When is the next time we will be at full strength? With Jones most likely going to the Gold Cup, we could be forced to play with Gehrig, Red, Adailton, and Palmer for a decent stretch. When do the players have to leave for that? A week early? If so, he would miss Houston, Seattle, and Columbus at the very least. If they make it through the group he will miss another Columbus game. If they happen to win that game they will play in the third place/final on the 25th, which would mean he would miss New England. Either way, when we have those four in the back, we will struggle.

    As for tonight, I have zero confidence in a good performance. Hopefully we win because thats all that matters in a cup game but we wont shut them out. Fernandez better be playing tonight or the move to recall him was out of fear.

    Talk is cheap.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    If "Yallop. Out." were to happen, who would be your top three (realistic) replacements?

  • In reply to jimmyblackcloud:

    1. Tab Ramos
    2. C.J. Brown
    3. Literally anyone other than Frank Yallop.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Good list. I don't think Tab would leave the U20's to coach this team though, do you? It would be nice to see C.J. Brown back, but I'd hate to see another Klopas situation with a former player coming back to coach. Doesn't mean I wouldn't want to see him get the chance though. I'd probably throw Petke in as the third option.

  • In reply to jimmyblackcloud:

    What do the u20's have to do for the next 1.5 years? It wouldnt hurt to see if he wanted it. We can't be much worse than we are right now so bringing anyone in will either be the exact same or better. Petke would be a good option also. Maybe Carlos de los Cobos or Denis Hamlett. Unfortunately, Juan Carlos Osorio just signed on with Sao Paulo.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I agree, wouldn't hurt to try.

  • In reply to jimmyblackcloud:

    1. Klopp
    2. Klopp
    3. Klopp

    If Andy had any guts it could happen.

  • In reply to jimmyblackcloud:

    Eric Wynalda!

  • Yallop talks like he's just an innocent bystander and not the guy in charge.

  • I read about the 6-0 loss to Seattle last year as if it was a one time thing. Two years ago the Fire had the disaster against 3-win DC United in a USOC Semifinal loss at home. Different manager and several different players, but I hope this isn't a pattern of not being able to compete in big games. Hopefully, the Fire get to the semi-final game again to make amends.

  • Guys

    Last nights game was awful. I am so frustrated that I am thinking of mailing the rest of my tickets to Andy to use. Maybe he could bring his family to the seats. The best soccer game in town is played at Uic and its for free. Unfortunately we have to wait until august for a game.

  • There is a reason the Fire have only 14 points this year, and it was clearly on display last night.

  • That was a freaking embarrassment last night. Despite the final score I thought Louisville was the better team. That game coupled with the loss to New England shows that there is no depth on this roster. Embarrassed is what the entire team should be feeling this morning.

  • Last night was the first time in my life of watching soccer matches that I left before the final whistle. That was one of the worst displays of soccer that I have ever seen.

  • The 5 best players on the field yesterday were all from Louisville. Their two central midfielders bossed the game. Their left winger, #94, made our defenders look like high school defenders. Matt Fomdy was the best forward on the field. Matt. Fondy. He was winning head balls and out running our defenders. If they had ANY quality we would have lost that game 3-0.

    On to Yapyap. That lineup he put out was an insult to everyone that watched the game. He basically put out every crap player we had and the result showed. Then he realized that his job was on the line and puts in Maloney at half time. Boing changed. Maloney then limps off, probably because he just played a game with Scotland, flew across the world and then had to play because we were so terrible. I can't wait to hear what he has to say after this game. If we didn't recall Fernandez, we would have lost the match. Just to be clear, Yapyap recalled him because he was afraid of an 18 year old. This man is not a good coach and is dragging our club through the mud. I don't understand how someone could support this guy managing our club. Everyone on the field yesterday was a Yapyap player and the only good one was on the other team.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Actually, just to be clear, Fernandez was recalled to the Fire because he wouldn't have been eligible to play for LCFC against the Fire anyway. So, he was called to the fire for the possibility of him getting some playing time but that didn't happen because we couldn't score.

  • In reply to cf97TID:

    He was actually recalled because the Fire were short on the bench. The loan included a gentleman's agreement that he would not play for LCFC against the Fire in USOC.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Ah, I didn't think about the shortage of players. I knew about the gentleman's agreement so I thought they would move him to the fire so that he might make an appearance if we went up a few goals. It would have been nice to see him feature in this game though. I caught a couple of clips of when he played for LCFC last week and he looked to have a lot of good touches. Promising young player for sure.

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