Fire notebook - Accam recovery stalled, transfer reinforcements, line-up choices, and more

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.

Filed under: 2016 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • "I'm happy with the first six rounds"

    WTF??? You have 6 points. You are happy with one point a game?

    Hell, last year at this juncture they had 9 points.

    I'm on a full boycott of the team--I'm not going to games, not watching them on TV.

    And, to be honest, I don't know how much interest I will have even looking at news reports/blogs. The EPL season has been fantastic. Spain is heating up and even the Bundesliga has some interesting storylines.

    The Fire is definitely at risk of wallowing further into irrelevance for the casual soccer fan with continued poor results and strange explanations from the staff.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    I agree that the results are laughable, but from the standpoint of developing a mentality and a style of play from ground zero, that is coming along (never forget whatevering.)
    I am not enjoying the results from the games, but I do appreciate the identity that Pauno's trying to build. As more of the picture gets painted in time, we'll see the pro and cons of Pauno much better. For now, this is the ride we're on.

    On a side note, I still don't think we're going to advance past the quarters in the USOC (at best.)

  • fb_avatar

    "As far as signing reinforcements, we'll have one in midfield. "

    So, does that mean that Khaly Thiam is coming but de Leeuw is not?

  • In reply to Chris Page:

    I think based on all the reporting on it, Thiam is 100% done with the only thing holding back an official announcement being the end of his responsibility in Hungary.

    De Leeuw I think is expected but not at the same stage of certainty.

    As I understand it at least.

  • In reply to TomazPP:


  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I am looking forward to Khaly Thiam. He seems to be more of a defensive mid. I think he and Polster would be a powerful duo.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Fwiw....I've gotten good reports on Thiam.

  • "...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." You CANNOT tell us that and then expect us to attend and get excited or get STix when you are essentially throwing in the towel this year. AND forget attending, i think that ship sailed on me for this year, NOW your giving me no reason to watch! WTH!!! OM. OM. Breath. OM. OM Deep Breath. Please someone help. Garber.../ Are you there? I thought we hit bottom last year?!

  • In reply to FireRog:

    We feel it too Rog.My last ticket purchase was last year. But no one mislead us this year. We were told this would be done carefully, with a plan, and that we should expect limited results this year. And better results next year.

    Yes we hit bottom last year. We're still there but Pauno is marshalling his troops. He has them performing manuevers on the bottom. They have to learn to walk, then run, before they can take flight and rise again.

    You may feel free to express your discontent by not buying seats for the long overdue rising as am I. But you cannot say Nelson and Pauno are not meeting their promises. I can watch on TV and see improvement. Doesn't show in the standings yet. Maybe it won't this year. But I like the discipline and organization I see on the pitch. A little makes me want more. But we've waited this long. We can probably afford to work on our patience and savor the good signs.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I agree completely. While the points/standings are slightly worse than last year, the cohesion and discipline displayed on the field is so much better under Pauno that I am not disappointed. I would be disappointed if I saw goals being scored and Big Red with his head down and his hands in his hips once again looking at the guy who just beat him because his was again caught out of position. While the team does not have the talent to compete with some of the better teams, they are developing trust and are working as a single unit. They not only know where they are supposed to be on the field they are there. They might not be able to physically shut down Drogba, but they are not being tossed around like rag dolls like last year. This team has promise because the coach knows what he is doing with the talent he has. Do I want more? Yes, did I want more from the Cubs three years ago? Yes, but the patience paid off there. The difference between the Cubs plan and the Fire plan is the owner. The Ricketts invested in the facilities (Sloan Park is a gem), in the minor leagues, in the scouting. They built an organization that can retool year after year because the players are in the pipeline. The Fire are not doing that part if it because the owner does not have the resources. AH needs to go, but Pauno needs to stay!

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Hear! Hear!

    *rumble* *rumble*

  • Bad news for any hope of Khaly Thiam leaving MTK Budapest before their season ends. MTK lost 1-0 today. Thiam started at center mid.

    They have two games left in the season.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I wonder how much gas he'll have in the tank after playing a full season. Guess we'll find out.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Good question. They'll have to manage his time to avoid wearing him out....especially in June and July.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    He should be able to get some rest in June. Only two MLS matches for the Fire, plus whatever USOC games he might play in.

  • Guys. I was at Toyota park this afternoon and had a very short chat with david accam. He said that he had an injection in his knee and he is hoping to play against DC. He is wearing a sizable knee brace. I also asked about maybe being with stoke next year he said "it would be nice".

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    He's not going to get that transfer for big money that's he's looking for if he can't get on the field and stay on it consistently.

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    Given what Accam has said to the Ghanaian press about playing in the Prem, this should not be a surprise to anyone. GR's right that he has to show he can help the Fire again in 2016 to get that chance.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    This is no surprise. When he came here there was no hiding that he was hoping to do well in order to take a step with his career.

    I'm not sure why folks continue to be surprised by this.

  • I have to say, the MLS schedule really is a pain. There are too many weeks where teams do not play for no reason. For example, why the Fire is not playing this week is just strange. There will be teams who have played 2 or more games than the Fire after this week. Why? If a team has to cancel a game because it is in CCL, fine. But when there are no conflicts all the teams should play. It makes the schedule more of a factor than it should be. If MLS wants to defend its schedule, it should make it fair for all the teams so that one team does not have to play catch up on games at the end of the season when legs are tired and other teams can rest. Just level the playing field. As a fan, I like comparing apples to oranges so when I see that Team A has 20 points, I don't want to think that it is way ahead of team B with 15 points when Team B has played 4 less games. This scheduling mismatch is self-imposed so it boggles the brain to understand why the league does this.

  • Weekend picks

    Philadelphia over New York City
    Montreal over Toronto FC
    DC and New England draw
    Columbus over Houston
    Colorado and Seattle draw
    Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake draw
    Vancouver over FC Dallas
    Sporting KC over San Jose
    New York RB over Orlando City

    last week 5-5
    overall record 23-42

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    mtl tor tor
    phi nyc phi
    dc ne tie
    clb hou clb
    col sea sea
    van dal dal
    la rsl tie
    sj kc kc
    nyrb orl tie

    last week 5-5
    overall 17-48

  • Khaly Thiam played 86 minutes in MTK Budapest's 5-0 loss to Videoton.

    MTK now sits in 4th place in the OTP Bank Liga with one game remaining.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Will this signing make the team better?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    I haven't seen Thiam play a live game yet but two different journos covering Hungarian football seem to think this is a good move for the Fire.

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