Fire notebook - line up choices, transfer window talk, injury updates and more

The Fire won’t have long to savor Saturday night’s victory over the Seattle Sounders. A big “home and home” set of games with Eastern Conference rival Columbus lies ahead. The Fire will host on Wednesday night and then travel to Ohio for a rematch on Sunday afternoon.

A full complement of players won’t be available yet with Shaun Maloney and Jeff Larentowicz both still definitely out but there is some progress being made on Maloney’s end. Frank Yallop told reporters during his weekly conference call that the Scottish playmaker has started to work on the side with the ball although he has not participated in full training. David Accam has resumed full training but is still not one-hundred percent and will be re-evaluated on Tuesday morning. Yallop said that he is hopeful that Accam will be available on Wednesday night.

“Hamstrings are a funny one,” said Yallop referring to Accam’s injury. “They tend to go away quickly sometimes or they linger. This is one that has really lingered, it’s been five weeks I think. It was a grade one strain. David is the one that has the pain and the restrictions on what he wants to do. David is the type of player that’s very explosive and he plays one way and that’s full out. If he’s still feeling anything, I’m sure he’s a little nervous to stretch it out.”

Mike Magee and Patrick Nyarko both left the Seattle match with a little more than sixty minutes played. Magee took a knee to the back and Nyarko appeared to have an ankle issue but both players are expected to be available to start against the Crew. “Both guys are available to play,” said Yallop. “I think that sixty minutes was smart from everybody’s end, the players and us. We got through the game and we won it, which is always important. I’ll make sure that we don’t put them under any extra pressure to have to play ninety minutes, but they’re quality players that have helped us. We had a good regen day today and some of the guys practiced that didn’t play. I’ll think about this afternoon and in the morning and decide on what the team is going to be. They’re up for selection that’s for sure.”

Both Magee and Nyarko have bounced back from long term injuries to step right in and start contributing but Yallop doesn’t want to push them to the point of risking another issue while working towards full fitness. “We’ve got to make sure we don’t send both of those guys back to the treatment table. It is a vigorous, hard, tough sport. It’s a lot of running and it takes a lot out of your body. It takes a while to recover from a ninety minute match. Both playing sixty helps and they’ll both have a couple of days rest here and won’t do very much and then I’ll set the team for Wednesday.”

Guly do Prado picked up a leg injury on Saturday night and his availability is not yet known for the first Crew game.

The Fire were able to get by a less than full strength Seattle side without Accam, Maloney, Larentowicz, and Joevin Jones but Yallop said he still sees the team as one that is still capable of playing the exciting brand of soccer he envisioned when putting it together this past winter. “We’ve got some real dangerous attacking style players that haven’t played in the last three or four week so it’s been a little frustrating. We created enough chances in this (Seattle) game to score more than one goal. Seattle had their moments but we missed some good chances. Getting to those spots is part of it but obviously the real tough part is finishing the play off,” said Yallop. “I see the team as a team that the fans want to come watch and I think that once we get everyone on the field it will be that.”

Team celebration

The full squad ran over to the sideline to celebrate Jason Johnson’s game winner against the Sounders, encircling Yallop and Johnson. It was an action that was seen by some as a sign of support and unity after the last few weeks of speculation surrounding Yallop’s job security. “I guess words can’t really describe when a player runs over to you. It was nice. Jason is a great kid and I want the best for him,” said Yallop. “I think the club, and the team, and all of us have been through real tough times the last few weeks, not only with results, but with injuries and just everything on top of not great results. It was fantastic to get a great win and scoring late is always great because it doesn’t give the team any time to readjust. It was very nice. It’s always nice for a player to do that but the whole team celebrated, it wasn’t just me and it wasn’t just the staff. Everyone felt the same emotion from that goal. Relief that we got a win and now we’ve got to build on that.”

Line-up choices

Adailton will miss the next match due to yellow card accumulation and newly acquired Ty Harden may not be ready as he recovers from an injury of his own. The Fire will probably look to a pair of young players to fill in next to Eric Gehrig. “I would expect Chris Ritter or Matt Polster to play in that spot. I’ll think about it this afternoon. I’ll watch some video and some tape on Columbus again,” said Yallop. “. Chris has a good chance of stepping in at some point. Either in the back or in the midfield.”

The back line played well enough to merit minimal changes although another quick turnaround for the Sunday game may determine some choices. “It’s never easy. I thought those four did a real nice job of keeping Seattle down to just a few chances. Once you’ve come through a game and you’ve got a result it’s always difficult to break up.”

“I think the guys that played on the weekend did a fantastic job. Not only the eleven that started but the three guys off the bench did a wonderful job to continue the momentum,” said Yallop. He was also happy with Gehrig’s run at centerback, citing a late game block after a failed clearance as one of the things the player is capable of contributing. “I think he’s done very well there. I played Eric at centerback in the preseason so I know he’s capable of playing in that position. I think the best part of Eric’s game is his last ditch challenging and tackling. Putting his body on the line is his best attribute and I think at centerback he gets more of a chance to do that.”

Another big contributor on Saturday night was midfielder Michael Stephens, who has missed time due to injury and the play of Polster and Razvan Cocis centrally. “Mike has been working really hard in practice and just not been (selected). For whatever reason, I’ve not picked him but Mike has been a great pro and he came on and made a difference. He’s got a great chance of continuing that coming up on Wednesday and moving forward. He took his chance and did very well on the goal and looked good when he played,” said Yallop.

Transfer window talk

The summer window is open and MLS clubs now have additional funds for pursuing players in the form of Targeted Allocation Money. The Los Angeles Galaxy appear to be using those dollars to bring in Mexican attacker Giovani Dos Santos. The Fire are looking at different options for utilizing the infusion of league dollars.

“We’re in talks with a couple of players at the moment. We can use, we save it. We’ve got quite a bit of time to think about how we’re going to do it. We’ll use it wisely. We don’t want to go out and blow it for the sake of blowing it. We’ve got make sure that the club is set up and not just going for the moment. We want to win right now and we’re trying our best to get good results, but we’ve got to make sure we’re building and making correct decisions all the way through because once we have our full unit on the team, I think adding a couple of players to that we could be up there with the top teams in the league,” said Yallop. “It’s only a couple more players to add and you’ve got some funds available to add players in the offseason in January for next season and moving forward. It’s something we feel will benefit everybody at the club, and the fans, and the team. The most important thing is how we’re going to play. We’re not afraid to use it but we want to make sure it’s not a quick fix or a panic situation. We feel pretty comfortable. We’re talking to two players right now and we’ll see how talks go.”

Rumor mill

Published reports have listed strikers Lukasz Gilkiewicz and Noel Hunt as players the team has talked to about coming to Chicago but Yallop shot down the notion that either are one of the two players he was referring to. “I know one player but I haven’t spoken to any direct link with those guys,” said Yallop of the reports.

Another player that isn’t likely to land in Chicago is Javier Hernandez. While a rumored deal to Sevilla apparently fell through last week, it seems MLS and Orlando City in particular are back in the conversation for Chicharito. The Fire have apparently not entered the race for him.

“He’s a very, very good player so we’re always interested in those guys. It’s got to be the right fit and the right thing that you want to do. There’s always interest but I haven’t spoken directly to the agent. I think he’s choosing to fish around, I guess. I’ve had no direct contact,” said Yallop.

The Fire will have more room to add another international if they can strike a deal. Razvan Cocis received his US Green Card and no longer counts towards one of the eight available international roster spots. The Fire now have six internationals on the roster.

T&T Gold Cup

Joevin Jones and Trinidad & Tobago have advanced in the Gold Cup competition so the Fire may have a little longer to wait for their starting left back. T&T coach Stephen Hart served as an assistant for Yallop while at the helm of the Canadian National team. “We wish them all the best. We want them to do well. Do we want JJ back as quick as we can? For sure. We got through this (Seattle) game with a win and hopefully we can do the same in this game and keep it rolling and get our guys back and away we go.”

Filed under: 2015 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • All those weeks with no game on the schedule and no competing international matches makes this league's scheduling a joke. They sure don't lower the ticket prices when the top players are gone. Players get hurt and miss MLS games... maybe the teams should get some compensation for those appearances. Something has to change with this scheduling.

  • I wouldn't be surprised if the Fire trade their "TAM" for regular allocation money.

  • I would like to see a 4-4-2. Doody, Gehrig, Ritter, Palmer; Shipp, Cocis, Polster, Stephens; JJ, Iggy. Start of the second half, leave JJ out there and bring in Nyarko, Magee, Accam.

  • In reply to tomwhitt:

    I think you'll see something similar to that.

  • In reply to tomwhitt:

    If Magee is still getting back into the shape, I could see him starting with maybe Stephens coming on for him in the second half.

    Ritter in the back makes me nervous for his rough fouling, but at this point our options for who fills in are pretty slim.

  • Guys can someone explain why a team from CHICAGO is taking a back seat to orlando in regards to the Hernandez deal? We should be in the same league as LA , Portland and New York.

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    Last I heard, the transfer fee for Hernandez was $12 MM and that he was seeking a contract worth $10 MM per year. It is fair to ask whether it would be worth it to spend that much money. You could sell out TP for every game and the bump in attendance would be nowhere near enough to cover his salary. How many replica jerseys would you have to sell to make up the difference?

    I am all for the Fire signing the best players possible, but does it make any sense to increase the club's deficit by spending $10 MM on Hernandez?

    How many players would move the needle enough to justify that kind of salary? Ronaldo? Messi? Neymar?

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    If MLS wants to be a top league in the world they are going to have to start spending like it. Remember Garber wants MLS to be one of the top leagues by 2020.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    You cannot spend money you do not have.

    That is what the NASL did.

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:

    Who doesn't have the money? Comparing buying Hernandez to Sterling is asinine. Everyone knows money gets stupid in England when England nationals are involved (Andy Carroll?!). Even then, these are the handful of guys teams will ay idiotic money for. I don't think anyone wants MLS to mirror the worst of the European overspenders (ManU, City, PSG, etc). And if they do they need their heads examined. The league needs to compete with the other 15-18 in the big leagues, to be able to compete for guys rated in the 5-10m range regularly.

    Which means the owners need to be willing to spend, or at least perceived to be willing to spend. Currently there is no indication that the Fire's is, while Seattle, LA, NY, and Orlando seem to be.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    I was responding to the comment that challenged the MLS to spend money to become one of the best leagues in the world.

    Getting Hernandez is not going to accomplish that.

    You also could be a bit more respectful in your comments.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    The Fire were willing to spend for Jermaine Jones, were they not?

    You mention "stupid" spending. Surely you do not believe Hernandez is worth the $10 million a year that is being tossed about.

    And where do you propose the Fire get that type of money?

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:

    The money would come from the same place all the other "big" teams are getting it. Please read GR's comments below about how Orlando "gets it". If you view the Fire in a lower class than those teams, one should ask oneself why the team in the third largest market isn't a "big team".

    Also, respectfully, the Sterling comment was a poor example and I'm holding to that. Had you mentioned Schweinsteiger perhaps that would have been a better arguement, yes?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Man City just paid $75 million for Raheem Sterling.

    Where would you recommend the MLS get that type of money?

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:

    Just a quick question, how would you recommend MLS becomes one of the top leagues in the world by 2020 if they do not choose to spend? I'm not talking about spending that kind of money on a transfer fee but what if the salary cap was $15mil instead of $3.7mil(?) like it is today and that the max salary is raised? Don't you think that teams would be able to draw more talent to the league? It may not be able to draw the players like Messi or Ronaldo but they can start to compete for players that are talented but are seen as role players for teams across Europe. But honestly how do you see the league being on of the best in the future if they don't spend more money?

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:

    Why not the other end of the transfer spectrum? Podolski went to Galatasaray for $2.5million. Nani went to Fenerbache for about $12million. Why not sign talent like that? Surely the league has that kind of money to spend on players that are still in their prime?

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    The cost for Chicharito is large but he is one of the few that would come close to providing a return on that kind of cash. He would be bigger here than Blanco was.

    He's not coming to MLS this year but the fact that Orlando City is legitimately interested, even though they have Kaka, while the Fire aren't involved in the conversation is where the concern should lie.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Orlando is part owned by same group that owns Stoke, yes? That would mean that the ownership is used to those kinds of numbers for players (as well as have the deeper pockets to afford them.)

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Irrelevant. There will be a point where some of the current owners won't be able to compete with the more ambitious. The cap restricts them from spending like drunken sailors but the league is changing and those who can't or are unwilling to keep up will be left behind.

    MLS needs this market to be more successful it they ultimately want to take another step up. There's no need to spend like NYCFC but spending on par with much smaller markets and having a payroll that's 10th in the league out of 20 isn't going to fly here if the Fire want to build a bigger following.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Totally agree!

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    It really hits home how much BS that Keane money comment was. Not that t really needed to be.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    GR, what makes you believe that Hernandez would have a bigger impact with the Fire than Blanco did? My impression of Blanco was that Mexican fans regarded him as Argentina fans did Maradona. In what other ways would Hernandez affect revenues, beyond a bump in ticket sales and a significant increase in jersey sales?

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    Hernandez is 27 and in the prime of his career. He would draw some of the same attention as Blanco did but the landscape, visibility and profile of MLS have increased since Blanco came to the Fire at age 35. He was still great but past his best years.
    Blanco is sort of a national hero in Mexico but Hernandez combines that with a sort of matinee idol attraction. The bump in ticket and jersey sales would be supplemented in multitudes with advertising, attention, and perception that Chicago wants to play in the big leagues like the third largest market in the country should.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    OK, how much extra advertising could the Fire sell to make up the $10 MM per year? Blanco's reported salary of $3 MM was basically offset by the Best Buy sponsorship. I'm not sure whether the visibility and profile of MLS have increased enough to think that this one guy could singlehandedly generate this much extra revenue.

    TFC improved the club's perception with their fans when they lavished stupid money on Bradley, Defoe, Altidore and Giovinco. Improved perception is great, but it doesn't pay the bills.

    Don't you think that there are players out there who cost half what Hernandez is asking, but would have a similar impact on and off the field? I'd like to see my club get great players and not go further into the red in the process.

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    The $10mm is an inflated asking price. I don't think he gets that here but let's just say he did. The league theoretically pays the same amount of salary for each club via the budget/cap. It also shares revenue with each owner/investor through rights and marketing deals. The owners that are spending big on DPs probably aren't in the business of losing money for the sake of it and realize that spending bigger is a risk/reward that eventually pays off with wins, interest, tickets, etc.
    MLS is obviously past the stage of being frightened to spend for players. I can assure you that the Fire FO have done their homework internally and have presented a proposal for justifying the expenditure on a player like Hernandez. They just have to find that player and pull the trigger. They will HAVE to do this eventually if they are to make a dent in capturing the sports interest here locally.
    They won't have to spend $20 million in payroll like TFC either to do it.
    There aren't many players at half the cost of Chicharito who would have the same impact off the field here. Orlando City apparently recognizes this.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I'm trying to figure out where $10 MM would come from and I'm having a hard time getting there. I can see a team like Seattle spending big on Dempsey and not worrying about losing money on the deal because they're selling 40K tickets per game. If TP held 40K and the Fire signed Hernandez, I could see a path to getting the $10 MM covered.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I get it now.

    We need some next level players.

    Thanks for showing me the light. =)

  • Guys Chicago should be able to compete on the same level as the other good teams in the league. Would anyone be sad to see old Andy sell the team to someone from chicago that had a vision. The only vision Andy has is his wallet.

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    How do oh know that, have our spoken to him?

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:

    Actions speak louder than words

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    The real problem is that "Andy" is playing with his wife's family fortune. Someone needs to have Ellen increase Andy's allowance.

  • Any truth to the Drogba to cf97 rumors?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    The Internet is a funny place.

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