The Fire will go into next Saturday’s match against the Montreal Impact without several key players. David Accam, Joevin Jones, and Matt Polster are all first team selections that will be out due to international duty. The Fire have two games in Montreal on the schedule and a win in this game can put more pressure on the Impact who are clinging to hopes that their games in hand advantage on everyone else will result in a playoff qualification.
Frank Yallop told reporters during his weekly conference call this afternoon that on-loan left back Patrick Doody is back in training with the team this week. The other Saint Louis FC loanees, Alec Kann and Kinglsey Bryce, have remained with the USL club however. “We’re missing some key players but we’re hoping that the little bit of momentum that we’ve had in the last league games can carry through,” said Yallop.
Filling in at the fullback spots with both recent starters, Polster and Jones, away means that Doody could get another start and Lovel Palmer is likely to land at right back again. Ty Harden, who was acquired from San Jose in exchange for Quincy Amarikwa, has yet to play for Chicago but injury could rule him out as an option on the right. “Ty has played right back but he’s more of a centerback,” said Yallop. “We’ll look at him. He’s just getting healthy. He tweaked his hamstring a little bit last week. He feels pretty good and he’s working with our fitness coach. Hopefully he can join in practice tomorrow and then moving forward to be available for the game on Saturday. Patrick (Doody) is fit. He’s playing ninety minutes most weeks. He’s available and Greg Cochrane has been with us for a couple years now. He’s a good, capable player. We have options so we’re just got to look at everything and I’ll decide by the end of the week. By Thursday’s practice we should have a good picture of who’s playing.”
Those options seem relatively clear cut but replacing Accam may be more difficult. Patrick Nyarko and Harry Shipp have both played on the either side of midfield and that pairing could be the choice. “There a number of players that can play there. We’ve just got to get through training this week and see how we’re looking and go from there. David is a very, very good player. When we’ve had him on the field we tend to not only play well but we’re dangerous,” said Yallop of Accam’s influence. “He’ll be missed but hopefully the momentum with two draws and a win in the last three we’ve had in the league is going to carry us through to get a good result. Obviously, we’ve not won away for a long time. That’s the plan. To get an away win and hopefully start (that) Saturday, but David’s a key to a bright future for us now and moving forward, and that’s the reason we got him. He’s a good, young, exciting player and when he’s on the field good things happen.”
International call ups
In addition to the aforementioned players, Sean Johnson will depart for the USMNT after the game on Saturday and Collin Fernandez is currently with the US U-20’s. Yallop and Brian Bliss try to keep an open line of communication with each county’s federation but in the case of Polster, Yallop has decided to keep him with Chicago up until now when opportunities have arisen. “Polster’s basically been asked to go the last two trips before this and I’ve stopped that in chatting and talking to the coaching staff over there. At some point I’ve got to abide by the rules and I’ve got to let him go. This is a trip that’s very important to them in their preparation (for Olympic qualifying). I would think Matt will play 90 minutes in the first game and we spoke a little bit of not playing as much on the Tuesday so he’s available for our game on Friday (at NYRB on 9/11),” he said.
The US U-23’s are training in Manchester, England. After friendlies against England on September 3 and Qatar on September 8 they will begin qualifying for next year’s Olympics from October 1st through the 13th so it’s possible Polster could miss even more time next month.
Yallop has spoken to Trinidad & Tobago’s manager Stephen Hart about minutes for Joevin Jones and Daneil Cyrus as well. “He’ll look at the minutes but they don’t have many defenders,” said Yallop. “T&T are light on defenders but they should be still okay for our next game.” They will play Mexico in a friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium this Friday.
Getting news from Ghana has seemed to be problematic this season and Yallop hopes that Accam can avoid the issues that have carried over after previous national team trips. “We don’t have much communication with their coaching staff. It’s been difficult. He doesn’t tend to play a lot but maybe that’s the problem, when he goes on he usually comes back injured. We’re hoping that isn’t the case in this trip,” he said.
Mike Magee was on the bench for the New York game but didn’t make the eighteen against Orlando City. He is still limited by a knee injury that continues to linger. Yallop said that his availability was “touch and go” for the Montreal game. “His knee is still bothering him. He feels a little better with it. It’s been ongoing. If you think about it he’s not been really 100 percent healthy for two years now. He had those issues earlier in the season but we tried to sort of mask them over and just let him play. He had the surgery and he had a few things since the surgery that have hampered him. We’ll see how trains this week and his movement and all that stuff. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully he’ll be available for some type of minutes in the game.”
Yallop was happy with the effort on Saturday night despite not being able to get all three points. Several factors could have played into reasoning for the team not being as sharp against Orlando City as they were against New York. “We played Wednesday night, a very emotional, big game for us. We got a result. We then jump on a plane on Friday and bodies are a little bit tired. I played the same team because I wanted momentum. (Then there’s) The rain delay and all that stuff goes into it. Basically, Orlando had not played any games and they had just been waiting for us. I think it’s a good, solid point. I thought we fought hard to get that point. They had their chances at the end but we had some stuff early that I thought we should have capitalized on. It was probably a fair result. I think the group is feeling pretty good. I think that the way we’ve trained and the way we’ve gone about things I see a spring in everybody’s step. The results are still sitting there helping us but at some point we’ve got to grasp it and take it. (There’s) No better time than this Saturday coming up.”
Both team had some chances but Orlando City had the better of it late as the Fire seemed to tire. “I think it was wide open for a reason. Our team was a little bit weary. You can’t go up and down the field for the whole time with the travel and the game. There’s no excuses, it’s just reality. It’s a tough sport and you play for ninety minutes and you’re done for a couple of days. To then turn around and have that same ninety minute energy against Orlando (is tough). I thought especially for an hour we did pretty well with going toe to toe with them. Although they had some late chances, they missed the one and hit the post and had a pretty good shot from the edge of the box, but it wasn’t like it was attack after attack where we were getting murdered,” sais Yallop.
“We had some breaks where I thought we should have done better, to be honest. David had a good run, I think we had another one where Polster didn’t attack the ball on an overlap. We’re just going into this (next) game the way we did against the New York Red Bulls at home, which is a real solid unit high up the field that win the ball back. We’ll have a week of rest to do that. I feel once we are set up, and we have plenty of time to work with the guys and there are going to some new players stepping in, that we’re going to be okay.”
Montreal match up
Yallop addressed Montreal’s dismissal of his predecessor Frank Klopas on Saturday but said the coaching change would alter the Fire’s preparation. “It’s always a sad time when any coach gets fired. I know Frank personally. He tries his best and he wears his heart on his sleeve. It’s a sad time, but for us as a club we go in there with the same thoughts and mindset whether Frank is or is not there. We’re playing the players not the coach. (It’s) for us not to worry about what’s going on in Montreal. We’ve got to worry about ourselves and be prepared for their best. They’ve got to bring it and we’ve got to match it and do better and try and win that game. It will be a tough game. With coaching changes it either lifts or changes the views of the players. Usually the ones that haven’t played under the old coach seem to get a new lease on life. We’ll see how it goes up there. We’ve just got to be on our game and ready to go.”
The Fire will likely face Didier Drogba for the first time since the public courtship that eventually ended up with him in Canada and the Fire with a load of league allocation money. Drogba’s fitness and starting status is still a question however. “He’s apparently got some sort of toe injury. I think we’re expecting from the information we can get, that he’ll be available. Whether he starts or plays is up to Montreal. We know Didier Drogba is a good player. We’ve got to be very aware of where he is at all times. We’ve got to be at a point in our game where hopefully we’re up and winning that match and he doesn’t get a chance to change that. If he’s playing from the start, we’ve got to make sure we’re right on top of him and making sure we know his movements. He’s a very, very good player and that’s one of the reasons we tried to get him.”
Filed under: 2015 Regular Season