With the Fire sitting at the bottom of the MLS table following four consecutive losses in league play, questions were sure to be raised regarding Frank Yallop's job security. Last Wednesday's home defeat at the hands of Eastern Conference leading DC United seemed to bring that issue to the forefront with Yallop himself indicating that he would be under more pressure if results didn't turn around soon. The Fire's Director of Soccer addressed those questions again today during his weekly media conference call.
Yallop told reporters that he has spoken to owner Andrew Hauptman since the loss against DC but didn't divulge what the extent of that conversation entailed. He did say however, that his job status wasn't a topic of discussion. “We haven’t talked directly (about job security), but obviously I’m not a stranger (to this situation)," said Yallop. "You need to get results. Andrew has been great with me, he’s given me everything I need to do that. It’s very, very frustrating and very disappointing to be in this position but we’ve got to keep going and keep battling on. We’ve got to make changes to the results. I feel the team talent-wise, is in a good spot. We don’t have everybody on the field at this point but still that’s irrelevant. We should be able to get results. We haven’t spoken directly about that but he wants to win and he has every right to ask and probe and try to get the best out of myself and the staff because we all want to win in the end. He’s no different."
The nature of professional sports being what it is, Yallop knows that results are the determining factors ultimately used to judge coaches. Despite the losses and injury issues, job preservation is of secondary concern at the moment. “I’m just working hard at trying to put it right and trying to get results in this game coming up tomorrow and the game on Friday and moving forward. It (job security) can’t be at the forefront of your mind because then you won’t do your job properly. You’ve got to just keep going, making sure that you do the things that you’re comfortable doing. I’ve been in this situation before with a run of bad results. Every coach has. You’ve just got to stick to it and try to make the difference in changes in the players to get those results. We’ve tried a couple different things in training and the approach to games and different things. Usually, when something changes on the field that makes the difference like a goal, and a win, and a good performance and all of a sudden you’re off. We’ve got to get to that point. You can’t be worried about what might happen, you just have to worry about what you’re doing and what can happen," he said.
The technical staff began making changes last week with the trade of forward Quincy Amarikwa to San Jose in exchange for defender Ty Harden. Yallop said the move was made with two objectives in mind. “It gives us a bite more money under the cap to be used in the window if and when we can. Ty is a centerback and I felt we need another centerback. I just felt that the timing was okay for us. Quincy has been here for a while and you never like losing anyone like that but it’s sports. Like I said to the group and Quincy himself, sometimes you’ve got to change things to try to spark or make a difference in our fortunes and our set up."
With the July 1 deadline for non-guaranteed contract decisions and the official opening of the secondary transfer window on July 8 approaching, the Fire are in the market for reinforcements. Whether or not a substantial move is made or another move for depth like the Harden trade gets done depends on several factors but Yallop insists the club is still looking to improve. "We’re actively trying to fill out, and I’m not going to say what positions, but we’re actively trying to make the team better and cover ourselves for the rest of the season. We’re trying to do that right now. There’s never a ton of huge movement once you have a full roster but now we have some cap space to make a significant signing if we need to."
The Fire have all three allotted DP slots taken, so a substantial move may be subjective. It may be too early in the process to tell if they'll be able to land a player capable of stepping right into the starting line-up at the moment. "It’s hard to say if it’s somebody that can come in and be a starter and be a star in the league. What we’re trying to do is get quality for the money. I’ll never guarantee a spot, I can’t do that. I don’t think anyone should think that anyway. You’ve got to come in and earn a spot. (The Amarikwa move) just gives us more room and more money to get a higher quality individual. That was the game plan," said Yallop.
Chicharito on MLS' radar again?
An ESPN report this weekend claimed that MLS was in talks to define a mechanism in which Mexican stars Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Giovani Dos Santos could be brought to the league. The Fire inquired into the possible cost for Hernandez last year and this past winter Yallop said that cost was "astronomical". Now that MLS is apparently working toward bring him in, would the Fire be legitimately interested?
“I don’t know what the numbers would be but we’d be interested in any player who’s got quality. We’ve got three DP’s at the moment and we’re committed to those guys so something would have to change on that front. We’re forever looking. Like I tried to say in January, we tried to get going with getting all of our players in. We’ve sputtered a little bit and lately we’ve struggled with the four losses in a row. It’s just getting our guys back on the field that I felt had a good two or three games together with Shaun and especially David. We just need to get those guys back healthy and see where we are. Again, we’re forever looking. It’s never a no to those guys but it depends on what the package is to be honest," said Yallop of possible interest.
David Accam will not be ready for the USOC game against Charlotte and is in doubt for the Friday match in Houston. "We’re hopeful, but he’s come back injured and hasn’t trained yet," said Yallop. "That’s disappointing but that’s international football and that’s what you’ve got to work with. Two weeks ago he came back and he’s not stepped on the field yet, so that’s not good. Whether he’s ready for Friday, it would be a push, but I’m hoping. I doubt it, but we’ll see."
USOC v Charlotte
Yallop said that he'll field some starters for the game against the Independence but there may be some tinkering depending on who is available. "With our injury situation there’s not a lot of guys we can choose from right now. We’ll have a strong line up. We want to win the match. We want to do well in this competition. That’s very important to us. We’ll sort of lick our wounds and get ready for Friday which will be a tough game for us. We’re trying to get the ship straightened and go in the right direction and it starts tomorrow (Tuesday) night."
He's not expecting a pushover in third division Charlotte however. The Independence are coached by former Fire assistant and player personnel director Mike Jeffries. "It’s a tough game, they went to New England and won. They’re a big, physical side. Very strong on set plays and pretty good on the counter. They’re a good side. We all know that USL’s got a good pedigree and it’s a good league," said Yallop. “I didn’t think we played well in the last Open Cup game and we won it. Hopefully we can play well and get a good result and that should give us some confidence moving forward."
Nyarko an Magee back in action
Yallop said he expects Patrick Nyarko to be available on the bench for the USOC match. Nyarko will hope to make his 2015 season debut after finally being able to train in full with the first team over the last couple of weeks.
In another bit of good news, it also seems likely that Mike Magee will start the game against Charlotte. Magee had some good moments in a substitution stint against DC and Yallop sees this game as a good opportunity to get him back into a longer run.
Joevin Jones is still with the team and available for the USOC game. Jones was called for Trinidad and Tobago's Gold Cup squad which resumes training later this week.