The Fire face a bye week before DC United visits Toyota Park on April 30. Until then they will use the additional time to conduct several two-a-day training sessions this week before returning to a routine schedule. One of the biggest concerns over the last few weeks has been the lack of effectiveness in the final third and the hope has been that the return of David Accam would provide that missing spark. Accam had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his ailing knee last week but Veljko Paunovic told media during his weekly conference call today that the Ghanaian attacker hasn't improved since last week.
"Unfortunately David Accam is still in the same stage of recovery, which is not good news for us. We are sad about it because the team needs David and we expect that as soon as he recovers it's going to be, from the point of view of our style and how we want to play, there is going to be improvement. David is still going through that process of recovery and we have to wait," said Paunovic.
Another player on the mend is goalkeeper Sean Johnson who has missed the last several games with a wrist injury. Johnson had been training with field players for a while before getting into more goal related work-outs last. It sounds like Johnson will be back in line to at least challenge Matt Lampson again for the starting spot after not being available in the last three games.
"This week he will start full-go with the rest of his teammates. That's great news. Still he is working aside and doing some specific work out with the goalkeepers coach before he is ready to start catching the ball normally and do everything with the rest of the guys and goalkeepers. As soon as he is ready it is going to be great news for us to have him back and then, as I said before, we are very happy to increase our competitiveness on our goal. All of them work hard to start and at this point that's what this team needs."
Here's the recap on the rest of the conference call:
On whether or not the Montreal loss changed the team's mentality
"It didn't. It's hard to lose the game. Especially a game that we started leading and having a good first half. Not great, but good. When we have the game under control, we should have the game under control in the second half. But (there are) no disappointments after the game. It's tough but it's a new week and we're working on everything we have to improve and there's a lot of things. I would start again with the possession, with how we come to the final third. This is something that in the last game, I can't say that we improved in comparison to other games. Before that we had a line in improving our game."
"I can't say that we should be worried about it because I think it's very difficult to have improvement from game to game for each team all around the world, not only in this league. Having the leader of our conference in front this Saturday, it was also tough to do that. The guys are good. Yesterday we had a meeting in the locker room where we talked about the game and where we have to improve. It was just that kind of meeting where we want to build the team spirit and see how the guys are feeling. I can you that I'm very happy with how they recovered after the game."
On the decision to not start Matt Polster
"We also have to know that Matt had a very good start and a lot games playing with the National Team and we want to manage his load. He is still a young player and very important for us. We have to manage that. I think that when he came into the game in the second half he did very well. Some of the mistakes we consider, and the goals, are different from that and I think his performance in the second half helped the team. At least we increased the possession with him and Nick LaBrocca when he came in. It was something which we struggled in the first half but the mistakes that we committed were crucial for the game and for the goals scored."
"There is a next game, next game plan, and next set up. I going to repeat that a thousand times, for Matt Polster and everyone has to earn their spot. They have to give their best and we believe we will always put the guys who we believe can win the game and this is it. Matt is doing great. Matt is a great professional. He's doing his best. Day by day you see the players and also you have to decide how you want to start. Not only on what we are doing and how we want to play, but also on what is our game plan for the next opponent who has particular qualities and things that we have to be aware of.
"We have to take care of him and his (work)load and emotions which were very important in the game. It's a long season in front of us and we have to manage all these things."
On new signings and the transfer windows
"I think we've gotten better over these six games in comparison to the first week. It's not possible to have that same level against every opponent and this past Saturday, I think we had a better opponent in front of us. It's not easy but I'm very happy with how the team is improving and working. We have to have patience with the process that the club is employing and that's important. It's a process. I'm happy with the first six rounds. As far as signing reinforcements, we'll have one in midfield. I'd like to say in every line but that's not going to be possible and it's something that won't be possible this summer or maybe this season either, but that's more a question for our General Manager Nelson Rodriguez."
On Rodrigo Ramos' play
"I think it's been a great job, starting with Nelson and the whole staff that saw this player and made a good decision. The most difficult part was making the signing possible because of the loan. If he keeps working, of course we would like to have him next season as well but that depends on a lot of factors and it's early to say if that's going to be possible. Hopefully it will. Hopefully we'll know that he's a valuable player and that he can play a lot of game knowing that the team needs him to keep growing. If that happens there shouldn't be a problem in keeping him."
On plans for this week
"We trained yesterday and today a double session. Tomorrow we have Habitat for Humanity, which is also very important where all of the team will help to build a house. It's going to be a great event for everyone and another opportunity for team building. Then on Thursday we will have a double session. Friday we are planning to have a full game, regular game, 11v11, intra-squad game."
On Champion's League
"I want Atletico to win."
- Patrick Doody played the full ninety minutes in Saint Louis FC's 0-0 draw with the Tulsa Roughnecks this past weekend. Drew Conner played the final ten minutes as a substitute.
- Fire target Michael de Leeuw missed FC Groningen's 1-0 victory on Tuesday due to a hamstring injury. Groningen is vying for one of the top eight spots in the Eredivisie which would land them in Europa League qualifying playoff games but they would need to leap frog 3 clubs to get there. The win temporarily moves them into tenth place with 44 points, one point away from the eight spot. de Leeuw told Dutch media this past weekend that he is still entertaining different options.
- Khaly Thiam and MTK Budapest play Puskas FC on Wednesday. They don't have a top three spot in Hungary's OTP Bank Liga wrapped up yet, but they're close.