The Fire have six games remaining this season but the attention over the weekend came from former Fire defender Hunter Jumper’s twitter account. His comments didn’t put the organization in a good light and certainly didn’t do much for the previous technical staff. Frank Yallop addressed the rant during his weekly conference call although, as Jumper stated, most of his interaction and opinions were based on his experiences in 2012 and 2013. “I really didn’t work with Hunter very long but he obviously had his health issues (during that time). Reading through it, I don’t know where it’s coming from. You’d have to ask him that. He can say whatever he wants, so you’d have to ask him what he meant by it. I’ve seen a few of the comments which I thought were harsh but that’s fair enough. It’s up to him,” said Yallop.
The Fire’s current coach also noted that Jumper’s dissatisfaction wasn’t evident while he was with the team last season. “When I talk to players it’s private what we talk about but I don’t think it was ongoing or something that was on the front of his mind,” said Yallop. “He talked about getting himself healthy. He had the heart condition that we tried to work through and in the end it stopped him from playing professional soccer. That’s very frustrating and hard to take. I’m sure he’s upset with that as well. He didn’t really mention much to me. He’s a nice kid. I had a good interaction with him. He had his car accident and a few things go on in his life. Working out was a close call and he had the health issues and heart (problem) that we dealt with as all that happened. I remember him being a nice kid and no one really mentioned that (dissatisfaction) to me. Nothing at all.”
Magee working back in
After a long rehabilitation and complications with his knee, Mike Magee is starting to work his way back to full fitness according to Yallop. He’s been used as a substitute for much of the time since returning after hip surgery and that appears to be his role for now. “He’s still on his way back from his knee issue that was an ongoing problem. Once he got his hip sorted out, the knee was the real issue. I think he’s fine. He’s feeling a lot better with that but still not one hundred percent. He’s doing better. He just needs to get his game fitness up, which comes with training and all that stuff. He’s pretty close to being pain free. You’d have to ask him but he says that he’s feeling pretty good. It’s just a hard game, soccer. It’s a ninety minute, sprinting, twisting, turning (sport), all those things and it takes a while for your body to get back to being able to do that without setting yourself back as well. I think Mike kind of pushed a little bit hard to start with and that’s why he took a step back a few months ago but now he feels pretty good that his knee is feeling better and hopefully he can build up his minutes.”
Yallop did say that Magee’s future with team, as well as other players on the roster, haven’t been determined just yet. “I haven’t even thought about next season,” he said. “Obviously we’ll look at the whole picture with everybody and see where they’re at with their contracts and stuff like that. I wouldn’t want to comment on that right now. Mike needs to get back to feeling good where he’s one hundred percent healthy as well.”
The Fire’s first choice strikers may both miss the upcoming game against Orlando City at home this weekend. Kennedy Igboananike left the New York match with a calf strain in the 61st minute and Gilberto did not make the trip due to a hamstring issue. Yallop said that Igboananike would not train until Thursday this week and Gilberto is day to day. Both are questionable for Saturday but he hopes they can contribute in some form.
Ty Harden contributed to the breakdowns that led to scores last Friday and Daneil Cyrus didn’t exactly distinguish himself at right back but Yallop and the Fire are still looking for a consistent defensive combination. The breakdowns haven’t been limited to the starting defenders however, with team miscues still plaguing the side.
“We’re conceding goals and it’s not just always the back four but obviously they’re the last line of defense so they tend to get the criticism,” said Yallop. “The goals we conceded were quite soft and we can just do better mentally and get into good spots.”
It sounded like some experimentation will continued but Harden and Cyrus starting again can’t be discounted. “All we can do is keep working at it and try different combinations and keep going. Our goal scoring was quite sharp in the game. Again, we scored two goals away from home and don’t come away with any points. It’s obviously difficult to take at this point in the season but we’ve got to keep going and keep battling. It was Ty’s first game for a long while, the same as Cyrus. They got a game under their belt and hopefully they’ll be a little bit sharper next time.”
When asked if the Orlando City match presents more of a challenge due to pressure to win the last six games, Yallop didn’t differentiate having to win now from needing to win earlier this season. “Every game’s got pressure. We’re at home and we’ve got to win the game obviously. There’s no added pressure. We’ve been in this spot all season. We started with three losses so the pressure was on then and it hasn’t really stopped all year. Nothing different in this game. We’ve got to win it. We’ll go out there and try our best to do that.”
The last two losses have been particularly troublesome because they have been able to finish some of the chances that were missed earlier this season. “It was just very, very frustrating to come away with nothing (on Friday) but we’ll keep going.”
Accam on the move
David Accam’s pace and undressing of the New York defense was also a topic of discussion. Accam continues to impress when he’s healthy and able to go at defenders. Keeping him fit and ready hasn’t been easy this season though. “He’s one of the fastest with the ball too,” said Yallop of Accam’s speed. “He’s quick and he’s got those short little movements too. Dominic Oduro is very fast but David changes pace fast as well. From where he’s standing still to going, it is electric. He’s so exciting to watch and coach. He does stuff that takes your breath away. It’s just a shame that he didn’t get the winning goal for us on the weekend. He’s doing everything he can. He’s also coming back from an injury that kept him out six weeks. He’s still not one hundred percent match fit. It takes a few to get him there. He’s always got that issue with his hamstring, but right now he’s flying.”