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Late-game tension. Poise under pressure. Right-place-at-the-right-time positioning and the technical ability to snap home a crucial header.
Yes, Jason Johnson’s 94th-minute equalizer against Columbus Crew SC had all of that. But so too did the effort of Andrew Shaw earlier this week as he attempted to put his Chicago Blackhawks in the win column in Game 2 of the NHL’s Western Conference final vs. the Anaheim Ducks.
With the game already in its second overtime period, Shaw saw a chance to end it when a deflected puck was sent airborne in front of the net. Rather than wait for it to find his stick, Shaw -- who is already notorious for his soccer-like "Sewerball" skills -- went after it with his head and with all the gusto of a target No. 9 striker.
The goal would be disallowed by the officiating crew, allowing the game to enter a third OT where Marcus Kruger would play the hero for the Blackhawks. Still, the Chicago Fire and soccer fans everywhere were impressed by Shaw’s creativity in front of the goal -- and curious about his potential to similarly finish in the penalty area.
We can't say for certain that the members of the Men In Red took any direct inspiration from Shaw's headsmarts, but both David Accam and Jason Johnson tallied off headers in the Fire's dramatic draw on Friday night.
Regardless, should Shaw ever feel the urge to test his mettle on the soccer pitch, he now has the gear and a standing invitation from the Chicago Fire to give it a go:
— Andrew Shaw (@shawz15er) May 23, 2015
Jon Busch has played in more than his fair share of memorable matches since debuting in Major League Soccer in 2002, but there’s no doubt that Friday night’s draw at Columbus Crew SC will earn a place in his all-time ledger.
Busch achieved a milestone that only four other MLS goalkeepers have reached in the league’s 20-year history, appearing in his 300th regular-season league match. Fittingly, the occasion came in the same venue where he made his very first showing on April 20, 2002, while minding the net for Columbus against the New England Revolution.
Only Kevin Hartman (471), Nick Rimando (379) and Joe Cannon (342) made their way into more matches as an MLS goalkeeper. Exactly half (150) of Busch's career appearances came during his five-year stay with the San Jose Earthquakes from 2010-14, during which time he was a two-time MLS saves leader and the anchor for the 2012 Supporters' Shield-winning Quakes.
Busch, who endeared himself to the Chicago Fire fanbase during his ultra-successful first stint with the club (2007-09), was typically humble about the milestone's significance after the match.
"For me, I knew going into it that it could be my 300th but I didn't want to make it a big deal," he said. "But the nice thing is it worked out. The Man Above had a plan and to get it in Columbus, where I got my first-ever start, was really cool. It means a lot to me.
"I've never been one that's big on stats, I just kind of do my thing and at the end of the day if you've had a good career, your stats will speak for themselves. I've had the good fortune to play with so many good players, it's been a blessing."
As fortuitous as it was for Busch's 300th appearance to come in the place where it all started, so too did the stars align for him last offseason when he decided to return to Chicago.
“When in you’re a club like this that has the history that it does, you get a pride for the club," he told Chicago Fire Weekly on Saturday. "Knowing where this club is going, seeing what they’re doing and how hungry they are, it was a no-brainer when Frank (Yallop) and I talked. We’ve got a great bunch of boys in the locker room and now we’ve just got to put it together on the field. That’s part of the challenge of coming back. I have a lot of love for this club."
CHICAGO FIRE HEAD COACH FRANK YALLOP
On getting a draw on the road against Columbus Crew SC
"Any time you can come back in a game like this is huge, against a very good team too. So, you got something out of the game and you come back, and I think the boys are really happy. I felt we, to be honest, we could’ve won it. We had the chances I thought late, but Columbus had a few as well so it was a pretty even game. But I feel that the general play for us was good. Just the first half, I just said to the boys, we just in the final third weren’t as crisp as we should be, but that’s been our problem kind of all year. And obviously you have a couple of chances and you score one goal. So what I liked about it, we had a good chat about it at halftime, the guys came out in the second half and really went to town, tried hard even going two [goals] down, and came right back into it and did okay. It was a good result."
On the second half adjustments made by Chicago Fire
"We pressed a little bit higher. I thought we did a really good job of denying [Federico] Higuain space in the first half. As soon as you go down, you got to push on them and then he really starts to come into the game a little bit. So it was kind of cat-and-mouse, and I thought we did a good job defensively on him, and the whole team actually, Columbus, I thought. They didn’t have that many chances in the first half. But then the game opens up at two-nil and then he starts to come into it. So what I liked about us, we kept going, we got the goal in the end that we deserved and that was a big moment for us."
On the performance of Chicago’s substitutions
"[I’m] very happy. You put them on for a reason. You want to change the game or you see something, we need a little more pace with [Joevin Jones] wide, let Guly come on the field. I think Quincy [Amarikwa] obviously had a great twenty minutes or whatever it was. He was excellent. I said to the guys, well done to the team that started, but well done to the subs. They really made a difference in the match, seeing them sort through and could’ve won the game. So very happy with the all-around squad today."
On starting goalkeeper Jon Busch over Sean Johnson
"I just think Jon [Busch] needs games. I always think you’re not dropping off a level when you play Jon Busch, so I just felt it was time to give him a game and see how he does. Sean has got a couple of little things he’s nursing, but I don’t need to say what they are, but I just felt I wanted to play Jon in this game and he played great."
On Jon Busch’s 300th MLS appearance
"Anybody who’s played in that amount of games at any level, especially this highest level in this country, is fantastic. And Jon is a great pro, he’s a good teammate to the players in there, and he works very, very hard and I think that he’s a winner. He wants to win. It was a great pickup for us to bring Jon in, someone with his experience, and obviously 300 games is a wonderful milestone to get to."
CHICAGO FIRE FORWARD JASON JOHNSON
On his thoughts on his first goal of the year
"Not much. I’m just getting ready for the next game. We are still in the season, it is not like we won a trophy tonight, but it is great to get a tie on the road. I’ll enjoy the little goal I had tonight, but I am focused on the next game."
On the adjustments made
"Credit to the coaches and how they handled the game and the players as well, David Accam to be exact. [He] took us back in the game after we were down two-nil. It was a very important goal. A couple minutes after [Crew SC’s] goal, to get a header from a Kennedy [Igboananike] cross, that kind of gave life and motivation for the players. I was happy the coaches called my name and I am happy to have gotten a point for this team."
On what he can build off of tonight’s performance
"Just keep working hard. There is no area of my game [in particular] that I think I need to improve, because every day you think you can get better, so I’m just working hard at everything I do in training and just focus."
CHICAGO FIRE DEFENDER ERIC GEHRIG
On if this game was redemption after last week’s result
"It’s tough, we were a little unhappy with the past couple of weeks. But at the end of the day, you just have to keep going. Week after week, we play good teams and we knew it was a good opportunity to come here. Obviously Columbus is a great team at home and we knew they were looking to win after last week’s loss, but we have a good team as well. Unfortunately we gave up two but we were able to get back two and I think that both teams deserve a point."
On what it was like to play against former teammate/roommate Justin Meram
"I lived with Justin for three years and I know he is a great player. In my mind I think he is one of the best players in the league. He’s a dangerous player and he can hurt you in a lot of ways but it was a good total team effort tonight. Definitely special seeing Justin on the other side and we talked about trading jerseys. He’s a good guy and he asked me to be in his wedding yesterday, so it’s been a pretty cool weekend."
On acknowledging the fans in the Nordecke at the end of the match
[Crew SC] gave me a chance and I came here as an undrafted rookie and they probably didn’t even know who I was to be honest, but it didn’t matter. They showed me love the last four years and I’ve had some good memories here. I was away from home and they kind of took me in. It was definitely a special moment and they are good to me still, its special."
Chicago Fire fans and self-proclaimed soccer experts tested their knowledge in 5 rounds of soccer-themed trivia at Johnny O’Hagan’s in Lakeview on Thursday night.
Questions covered everything from the Chicago Fire to the U.S. Men and Women’s National Teams, European League stars, World Cup statistics and more.
Chicago Fire play-by-play announcer Dan Kelly was the emcee for the evening, posing questions to fans including: "Who is England’s all time leading scorer in World Cup history?”; “Name three venues the Chicago Fire has called home since the club’s inception,” and more.
The winning team, “Irish Wrist Watch” took home a total of 20 points, with the “Fire Ballers” coming in close second with 14 and the “P-Town Beat Down” coming in third with 9.
“Anything for the Fire, I’ll turn up for,” said Jimmy Garcia, a Fire fan and member of the winning trivia team.
Some participants went home with more than bragging rights, though. Prizes and raffles saw fans leave with a home kit signed by all of the Men In Red (pictured), an exclusive scarf, four match tickets and more.
“Any time you can have your greatest asset, your supports, gather around and talk about a subject that is dear to them, Chicago Fire soccer, around trivia and conversation, it’s always a good evening. ” said Kelly.
Fans can catch all Chicago Fire games at Johnny O’Hagans, including Friday's match against Columbus Crew SC (7 p.m. CT).
Chicago Fire at Toronto FC
BMO Field – Toronto, Ontario
MLS Regular Season
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop
Thoughts on the game
“Hard fought, coming back in any game always feels like you got something out of it as opposed to letting it slip. I’m really happy with the fight back and the spirit of the guys. Obviously, quality wise we weren’t quite there yet but the fighting spirit was great.”
On Robert Earnshaw’s debut performance
“As TFC fans know, he knows where the net is. He hasn’t played for a couple months now and he said he probably has 15 minutes in him and I said, “How does 30 sound?” He’s dangerous and he creates the second goal with his forcefulness in the box and he is going to help us. I felt we were very dynamic once Ernie came on and it was nice to see.”
On the playoff chase
“Every team I manage I want them to fight hard. We’ve been in almost every game but we just don’t have quite enough quality in all our positions to really dominate and take games over. We do have the fighting spirit and once we add some pieces I think we’ll be okay, so it’s a building process but I’m happy with the overall commitment from everybody.”
Chicago Fire forward Quincy Amarikwa
Thoughts on the game
“We didn’t make it easy on ourselves but as a team we fought together and we got the draw.”
On the goal
“We were trying to bring them into the middle and then get it out wide for some crosses.”
On the addition of Robert Earnshaw
“That’s what we expected out of him, just to come off the bench and bring some energy. He came on and scored right away and hopefully this leads to more goals in the future. Hopefully we can build a little partnership.”
Chicago Fire forward Robert Earnshaw
On returning to Toronto
“It’s like I haven’t been away. Maybe just because it is a familiar ground and a place I am very fond of. I have been back and forth here, it’s a great place that I like to come to. I’d like to thank everyone at Toronto as I never got a chance to really thank everyone here. From Ryan Nelsen to the whole organization, I just want to say thank you very much. The goal I scored was a welcome to Chicago, but also a thank you very much to Toronto.”
On returning to Major League Soccer
“Yeah, I love to play. I enjoyed just coming in and getting the shirt on, getting a feel for the ball, felt great. I want to get better on a personal level. I’ve come here to give something extra, contribute and help each teammate to do better with my experience and quality.”
Toronto FC Head Coach Ryan Nelsen
Thoughts on the match...
“Well I thought we were pretty comfortable in the first half. Obviously losing Steven (Caldwell) our captain was a little unsettling for us and we were in pretty good control until then. Then that kind of happened and although we had a lot of the ball, a lot of possession, the analytical guys will say we had all the possession, but we really didn’t do much with it. It was pretty comfortable possession in front of their team and they sat back and we didn't really punish them. We had a couple of really good chances and we kind of left them in the game. Obviously we conceded a soft goal and again losing Justin (Morrow) disrupted us. We needed some energy and we needed something, a lift, someone to grab the game by the back of the neck. I thought when Luke (Moore) came on he looked really good and we got ourselves a goal and could have made it three. Then that second goal was horrendous to tell you the truth. We’ve got to have a desire when an opposition player gets down to the endline we’ve got to have midfielders right on top of our backline defending our box. We were spectators, we kind of watched it hoping that someone would make the play but in the end it was a deflection bicycle kick that fell unfortunately to them and they punished us. We weren't in the right spots and we had guys just watching in comfortable positions. When you put yourself out of the arena to affect the game, things like this happen.”
On the injuries to Seven Caldwell and Justin Morrow…
“Steven (Caldwell) had a really good week of training and he just felt his same quad on one of the stretches that he made, which he probably made 50 times during this week, but unfortunately in the game he hit it. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as the original one, it was just something that we had to pull him off because it was only going to get worse. With Justin (Morrow) it was his hamstring so we’ll have to get that scanned. When we go down with injuries we seem to do it all at once.”
Does it sting even more that the two goals were scored by former TFC players?
“No, not at all. We wish all the best for all our former players. When any player scores against us it stings. Any former player from TFC we wish them all the best.”
Dwayne De Rosario was dropped from the 18, is it safe to say that you haven’t got what you wanted out of him this season?
“No, not at all. We’ve got absolutely everything from Dwayne, he’s been absolutely fantastic. He’s been fantastic in the locker room and he’s a great guy but I’ve got a premier league striker on the bench, I’ve got a Nigerian striker who would have been going to the World Cup on the bench. So it’s a hard squad to make these days. This is a wee bit different and we’ve got to make tough decisions. Even Daniel Lovitz unfortunately didn’t make it and Daniel has been absolutely brilliant for us. His (Dwayne) position is up for grabs now every time we play. They are under the microscope to play well because there are guys, Dwayne and Daniel being a couple of them, that really want to play.”
Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow
What was the injury?
“I just turned it. I felt in on a longer run right at the beginning of the second half. I just kind of felt it.”
Any idea of how long you might be out?
“I’m going to get it scanned on Monday and see how it is but I don’t think it should be too bad. It’s sore right now but it should be alright.”
How gutted are you to see the team concede so late and throw away points?
“Yes its tough but we have to take a positive out of it in that it is a tie. We do expect more out of ourselves at home and we should get three points. So we are a little disappointed with that but we have a lot of games coming up, games that we should win.”
Toronto FC forward Gilberto
How did you feel scoring in successive games?
“I’m very happy that I scored my first goal at home in my stadium in front of my fans. I feel the team is doing really good work right now but unfortunately we couldn't get the result. But I am really happy with the progress of the team.”
Do you feel comfortable with Luke Moore upfront?
“If you look back Jermaine Defoe scored six or seven goals when we were playing together so it really has nothing to do with my comfort with Jermaine or Luke. I’m happy now, I wasn’t scoring goals and now I am.”
Toronto FC defender Mark Bloom
Overall thoughts of getting back into a full game?
“It was good for me to come off of injury and start my first time back. I felt like my fitness was good and I didn’t focus about my knee at all. It didn’t bother me at all so in my mind I’m back fully fit.”
Tough to see Caldwell and Morrow going down to injury, did you feel some of the energy was deflated when they went out of the lineup?
“Those two guys are crucial to our team. I mean you take our captain and a guy that has played every single game, that is definitely hard. It takes away the heart of our defence but we have the players to cover them and I thought we did well. Unfortunately we gave up two goals.”
Chicago Fire at Montreal Impact
MLS Regular Season
Stade Saputo – Montreal, QC
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop
Thoughts on the game
“We weren’t very dangerous to be honest going to goal and basically when it comes to the crunch, we didn’t get the job done. It’s disappointing, but it’s kind of where we are right now. It’s hard because we lost 6-0 on Wednesday and now we had a chance to prove ourselves again and we lose.”
What can be changed to get that winning goal?
“We have to be more positive going forward. We have to dig deep and get that extra run for that extra minute and make sure we get beyond people and not play in front of the players. So I think that’s the difference we need to make. I think that after Wednesday’s loss it was hard on the team to be motivated, but our spirits seemed to be up at the beginning of the game and then we couldn’t get it done in both boxes, we couldn’t defend and couldn’t score.”
On how tight the table is
“Of course, you never give up until it’s over. It’s been a tough season; we have 13 ties, which 6 we should have won. I think that we would have been in a better spot with those extra two points per game. We’re not good enough to be higher up at this point and that’s on us.”
Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson
On the team's performance
"It's a tough result for us. We’ve got to be better. It's disappointing. We were in a position where we can put ourselves in a good spot in the playoff race. We played decent in the first half and just didn't do enough to get the result."
On what needs to be done to get three points
"It just a matter of believing and going out there and doing it. We just got to get it done. It's up to us, we're the players on the pitch and we have to solve some problems ourselves out there sometimes. We got to find it in us to get those results."
Chicago Fire midfielder Matt Watson
On how the team can improve offensively
"We weren't clinical enough in the final third. We need to find a way to get goals, maybe support the strikers more. We let the field get spread. We were hitting long balls to the strikers and then they were kind of wrestling for it by themselves with no support coming. We need to do better moving forward as a team."
On his team's defensive play
"At times I think we were chasing, myself included. I think sometimes we run just for the sake of it, where we could kind of be a more of a compact unit. We need to stay in a tighter defensive block."
Montreal Impact head coach Frank Klopas
On getting a win?
“It feels good. It took us a while to feel like this. There`s a lot of games that we could have walked away with points but you need to move forward. Today was a good overall performance by the group, I think that at some point we lost a bit of the midfield but the subs we made gave us a lot of added energy at the right time.”
What was your reactions to Chicago`s presence on the field tonight?
“We had possession very deep in our side of the field in the first 25 minutes, we wanted to open them up and move the ball quicker. We had opportunities and options to play out of the back. We knew it was going to be a big game, so we didn’t underestimate them at all, after them losing at the open cup. We knew it was going to be a difficult match, we expected one and it was. In the end we gave out a quality performance which gave us a great victory.”
On Maxim Tissot?
“He brings a lot of energy, every time he’s been in for us good things happen. He makes good runs off the ball, has a lot of pace and can make those long runs. In all he’s been giving us a good constant quality and becomes a really dangerous opponent whether he starts or comes out on the field later. It’s good for me, because we have a lot of options. He’s young but we’re going to continue to work with him and build him up.”
Montreal Impact forward Marco Di Vaio
Working with Piatti on the field…
“We tried to make a couple of combinations but it’s not easy for him because he’s arriving in a team that has a lot of confidence issues. For the past month and a half we’ve been playing better and taking the points we learnt and applying them on the field. So it’s not easy for him to come in our team at this point so I think that with his arrival here it might help the team’s confidence even more.”
Are you thinking on ending your career soon?
“It’s too far for me to think about this now. I don’t even think about what will happen next week. This year was harder for me but I am only focusing on our games to come at this point, especially in the Champion’s league games.”
Montreal Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush
On Chicago’s last offensive play?
“Those are the things that happen at the end of the game, when you’re up a goal, you send a lot of guys forward on set pieces and I got knocked down. I didn’t hear a whistle and he got a foot on it and I was there to take care of it.”
Did the defense have a lot to do with not getting any goals in tonight?
“I think so, there weren’t that many chances that we gave them and fought well for the ball. We had a good side to side movement and Wandrille and Matteo did a very good job to hold the back up.”
Montreal Impact midfielder Ignacio Piatti
On the game…
“As my first game I think that I played well and that the team had a solid performance and played well together. I knew about the MLS beforehand and knew the style of play so there was no surprise for me, but I still will have to adapt my style of play to that of the MLS.”
On Marco Di Vaio …
“Marco is a star player, when you play him the ball he’ll return it quickly, so there’s a good chemistry there and I am going to keep working on developing that team synergy. I asked Marco if there was a possibility for him to stay, but he says it’s hard for him and his family, but he’s still looking for a solution.”
Chicago Fire at New England Revolution
Gillette Stadium - Foxborough, Mass.
July 12, 2014 – MLS Regular Season
Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop
“No, it was not easy to get this result. We played against Kansas City on Sunday, went to Atlanta for an Open Cup game a couple of days later, and then came here for a tough league match. To get two wins and a tie out of these last few games is fantastic. We went to the quarterfinals of the Open Cup where we saw some great competition and then came here and got three points. I would say this has been a successful week.
Sean (Johnson) has been outstanding these past four or five games. He’s a young goalkeeper and he’s finally starting to have really good performances and he’s also starting to look the part. Things like this make the difference and it was the reason we won tonight. Although it was a great penalty that was taken, Sean also made a great save that was able to keep us ahead in the game.
I don’t think we deserved to draw as many games as we have. When we drew against the Revolution at home we missed a penalty like you guys did tonight. It’s a great thing for us to win tonight, in conference, because of the tough week we had, but we did very well. I was proud of the way we played, even though the second half was a little bit ugly and they were all over us. In the end, we were able to seal it out and get a win. We got it done as a group and that’s what is important.
My philosophy is to start quickly and try to score first. If you can do that, I believe that you can usually get a draw. My big thing is to get after it in the beginning, and we did. Mike [Magee] and Quincy [Amarikwa] were really lively in the first half and it went well. I thought we could have scored more goals, but you know, that’s how soccer is. I’m happy we got the win.
Quincy did the same thing against New England at home. He’s a very strong player that knows how to use his body the right way. Along with that being said, our squad was rotated a lot during these past three games. Everyone performed well. I tip my hat to them because the full squad of 18 has been doing well and it’s shown in our results.”
Chicago Fire forward Quincy Amarikwa
“It’s really important, especially if you can come away on the road and get a win and get three points. I mean that’s huge, especially in this league. We’ve just been right on the cusp of breaking out this year. We’ve got a lot of draws but that just means we’re hard to beat, as proved by tonight. And hopefully it translates into more wins and we jump to the top of the table.
Everything is about building momentum. I think we’ve been doing the right things. We’ve been working hard as a unit. We’re really sacrificing ourselves out there and it translated into three points tonight, and hopefully we’ll carry that into our next game.
I was hoping to catch them flat-footed. I think there were two or three opportunities where I picked the back line or their holding defensive midfielder and I don’t think they were ready for it. Luckily, we were able to capitalize early and prevent them from scoring.
Sean made a huge save. We always like our goalies to save everything they’re supposed to and save at least one or two that they’re not supposed to a game. Sean came out on top doing that big time for us. I think that will further boost morale and keep us going in the right direction.
I’m more trying to predict at what speed and strength [the defender] is going to be coming in, and you lean in one direction to compensate for that so that by the time he hits you, he’s kind of hitting you upright. It’s a balancing act. You learn the strength of each player on the field as you’re playing. You try to – almost like a chess match – you try to outplay them.
I think though I make runs in behind and I get runs in behind, I’m fairly decent at my hold up play and most people might not think that, thinking of my size. I think it plays to our advantage, because defenders don’t know if I’m going to hold it up or if I’m going to run in behind. Hopefully we capitalize on that more throughout the rest of the year.
[My partnership with Mike Magee] is good. It’s developing. We’re always looking for each other. We’re usually involved in each other’s goals in some capacity and hopefully it translates into more goals and more assists and more chemistry.
Especially with three games in the short period of time that we had them in, I was going to have to sit some minutes. Unfortunately, [last game] was due to yellow card accumulation but the guys showed up in Kansas City, got our point on the road. It shows our depth as a team and this is probably the biggest week we’ve had all year especially in terms of results. That’s three road games in a very short span of time and we came away with seven points so these are positives to build on and hopefully they carry out throughout the rest of the year.”
Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson
“It was just instinct. I think when it comes down to those moments, you kind of have to live in the moment. You don’t really think about it too much. You just kind of react and I just got a good jump on that side and was able to save it. I mix it up in the moment. I’ve gone left, I’ve gone right. I mix it up quite a bit so you never know. If the striker makes it difficult, which he did – it was very well struck – but I was able to get a good jump on it. I was surprised to see it bounce backwards because it was on turf. On grass it just stays put. I was lucky to have the post there. Someone was looking out for me there on that one.
This is my fifth year playing. I’ve faced a lot of penalty shots myself. I just kind of develop my own checklist I go through on the day and it’s different every day; depends on what I really think about when I wake up. Just in the moment I was able to save it. I watched it the whole way. I saw the ball the whole way. I knew it was going to take a bounce; didn’t know where it was going to go. I just got on my feet as quick as possible and I just took it off the line; turned around and took it. It’s really great.
This was huge. At a point in the season where we’ve gotten a lot of ties and we needed to really push and get over that hump. I think it really took a win like this – one that took a lot of grit and a lot of fight to really get the result. Three points and a shutout at that. I’m proud of the boys, and it’s just unfortunate to give away a PK when we worked hard. It shows the effort we put in defending and we were able to come out with a victory.
It’s bittersweet. It’s great to get the early goal, but you’ve got another 87 minutes you know the other team is going to press you to equalize, especially at home. To keep them off the scoreboard tonight was just great.
This week in general has been great for us. We’ve had a long week on the road, the entire week, and starting with Kansas City. To grind out a result on the road, and get the Open Cup win down in Atlanta – which I got to play in front of my family and friends in my hometown – is huge. Using that momentum to roll in, play the game on turf—have that experience coming in—we were able to get the job done.
It’s really great. It’s almost a sense of relief. We can’t relax yet, you know just those three points have been so evasive for so long. We’ve tied so many games. It’s very frustrating. We almost tied there at the end with the PK. We’re getting closer and closer to putting together a complete game. This game for us was great. We played well for 80-plus minutes and it’s just really grinding it out to see the game out in full. We’ll get better.
There is a ton left to play for. We had to regroup, starting with the Open Cup. We had two things to focus on: Open Cup midweek and then shift focus back to the league. It’s huge for us to get this result. We want to keep it rolling. We’ve got a lot to play for, a lot of games left, and we’ll get back to training and get better and get back to it this weekend against Philly.”
New England Revolution head coach Jay Heaps
“Tough loss. That one really hurt because I thought we had some tough decisions against us last week and I thought we responded well. Then tonight, I thought we were going to come out flying and we got punched right in the face the first two and a half minutes. We have to be better and it’s on us.
I thought that we definitely had more chances (in the second half). I thought Jerry (Bengtson) did a great job coming in and impacting the game and I thought Steve Neumann did a good job, as well. It was a little bit of a change to a 3-5-2, it helped out our attack. It would have been nice to punch one in there.
(Lee Nguyen) is one of our playmakers and someone we look to to facilitate our attack. At the same time, I thought we have enough fire power to create. Right now it’s a really tough run. We have to dig ourselves out. We have a penalty kick in the 85th minute and I thought it was well deserved. I thought it was earned. I thought we were trying and we were doing everything we could, but sometimes we’ve just got to make our stamp on the game.
I don’t have the update on Andy (Dorman) yet, but it was significant. Andy’s a tough guy, so we’ll find out more in the next couple days. In terms of Scottie (Caldwell), I thought Scottie did a great job. Scottie came in and had no warm-up time and went in and really was chomping and biting and trying to make plays.
I don’t know if there were positives in all those four (previous games), some losses were worse than others, I believe. But tonight it’s really raw right now. Going back, the subs did a nice job coming in. No one gave up, that’s for darn sure. During the penalty kick in the 86th minute with a team that’s punkered in, it’s not easy. You’re trying to probe and pick teams apart. It’s unfortunate, but you’ve got to use the positives and just keep going. You’ve got to dig even deeper now.”
New England Revolution defender Andrew Farrell
“Every time we have scored a goal first this season we’ve won. It’s tough to get scored on in the first three minutes. Our back line gave up some sloppy goals, and we need to stop that. We carried the majority of the game later on in the first half and the second half but when you make a mental mistake like that and put the whole team behind it’s really tough. Obviously, they are a team that fights a lot, they have 10 ties and that says a lot. We’ve gotten down a goal in the last couple of games, and that really needs to stop.
I thought we had some good chance. We had a few solid set pieces and the PK obviously. I thought for the second half, besides the one on one we gave them, we carried the play, but that’s soccer. We could have come away with a victory but it just wasn’t our day.
It’s soccer and this stuff happens it’s obviously very frustrating. You have the momentum and you think we are going to score but giving up that early goal was just too much. We get one there, we get four more. It wouldn’t feel as bad if we weren’t losing so many games but this one hurts a lot. We thought we were going to come out in front of our fans and give a good performance – which I thought we did – we just couldn’t find the back of the net, and I’ll take full blame for that goal.
I was in the back so I didn’t hear what they said but it happens. I mean Chris (Tierney) is a great PK taker and it was a big-time save.”
Chicago Fire at Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Park – Kansas City, Kan.
MLS Regular Season
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop
On a 1-1 draw against Sporting KC…
“First off, I thought we played well—an even game. I think we moved the ball well. It had been physical in the first 20 minutes of the match. We had a game plan to come in and try to do that and find little pockets and little holes and play in between the lines. I thought we did a great job, we just ran out of steam. We had a couple injuries. Alex was off at halftime, and Jhon (Kennedy Hurtado)’s got dizzy spells. So late in the game, when you want to make your subs make a difference, we couldn’t do that. Credit to Kansas City, they really pushed and in the end could have won it, but I was proud of the way we hung in there. So we could win a few more games, but we can tie them for sure.”
On the impact of the weather…
“It’s huge. The thing for me is that we don’t quit…and we didn’t. We kept going and tried to do the right things and moved the ball well. I thought Harry Ship was good today. He finds the pocket and finds good spaces. But in general, I thought we did OK. We have tied a lot of games and it’s frustrating when that’s probably one of the games that Kansas City probably deserved to win. But a lot of other times we pretty much were on the verge of winning the match. So it’s a close thing for us right now. Today was a good fight and spirit, with injuries and with stuff that went on. To get a point here, as you guys know, it is very difficult.”
Chicago Fire midfielder Logan Pause
On a 1-1 draw against Sporting KC…
“This is a tough place to play against a good team with a great crowd. But at the end of the day, not many people can come here and get a draw out of it. It's a good point or us.”
On using U.S. Open Cup results to build momentum…
“We know we have a lot of work to do, but I think we've gotten some good results in the Open Cup that have given us a little momentum and a push. So we are excited to keep that going.”
On Mike Magee's goal…
“When Mike [Magee] gets in those types of situations, he is clinical. He does a fantastic job running off defenders shoulders. It was a fantastic job by Chris Ritter to put him in behind.”
On preparing for another midweek game…
“We are going to have some tired legs, so it will be up to the staff, but hopefully we can take some momentum into Wednesday. We have a big Cup game and then it's back to League play over the weekend.”
Chicago Fire forward Harry Shipp
On a 1-1 draw against Sporting KC…
“It was hot. I think the first half we did a pretty good job defending and countering when they turned it over. In the second half, they were a little better on the ball. In the last 30 minutes they wore us down, running in the heat, and shuttling back and forth took its toll on us. It was tough for us to connect passes in the last 30 minutes.”
On using Open Cup success to build momentum…
“Any time you get a win, especially when we struggle to get wins in the League, it's imperative for us. It hasn't turned into a League victory today, but hopefully in the next couple weeks it will turn into a couple wins.”
On a demanding July with MLS play and the U.S. Open Cup…
“We have a busy month. We have a mid-week game and a weekend game almost every week. It's important to keep our bodies rested and fresh when we aren't playing.”
Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes
On Sporting KC’s 1-1 draw against Chicago…
“Look, we obviously gave a goal away. And they had one other chance besides that. We lost a ball, a very easy ball right at the beginning of the final third. We lose the ball and we’re a little stretched out and they get an easy tap-in at the end of the day. So we give that up, then obviously we drove the game, in and around their box quite a bit. I like to think that in the second half we made some really, really good opportunities at goal. We had some really good chances (where) we should have scored a second goal, no doubt in my mind. We just didn’t have enough people in the box. I do think that these games, when you play at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, in this kind of weather…it makes for a tough game for both teams. And I think it changes the way the game is played. Its not an excuse…My point is that when you play these games at night in the summertime, they have a different feel for both teams—and they should from their entertainment value. But again, we had enough chances around the goal, and we should have scored a second goal.”
On his decision to use Graham Zusi as a second half substitute but keep Matt Besler out of the matchday squad…
“Zusi felt good to go in and play, and Matt felt he needed a couple more days (to rest). Really simple.”
On Chicago’s first half pressure leading to their equalizing goal…
“I don’t know if they really pressured high up the field. I don’t think they really did. But I thought what really happened was that as we were building out, I don think we were moving the ball quick enough. So it allowed them to just hold their ground. We didn’t expect anything different. I don’t think they were high up the field to be honest with you. I just think that our circulation with the ball in the first half was very slow, and I think the second half was much better. And I also thought that they tried to isolate a couple of our guys with the ball. We made adjustments in the second half and that changed everything.”
Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber
On returning from a shoulder injury to play his first game in a month…
“I felt pretty good for the most part, but got tired there at the end. It was obviously a tough environment to play in—really hot and humid today. We did some good things and almost got the second goal a couple times in the second half. I thought our second half performance was a lot more composed. We had the ball a lot in their end. Whenever we lost the ball, our transition was good, and we created some decent opportunities. It’s always going to be tough when they put 10 guys behind the ball. Overall, it was a decent game. I just need to keep building endurance game-by-game.”
On splitting the points with a defensive Chicago Fire…
“It’s important to get points throughout the season, so a draw is okay. At the end of the year, every single point is going to count, whether you’re getting them home or away. It’s tough not getting three points at home, but we’ll take this result and focus on next week in Montreal.”
On how Sporting KC’s great fan support makes it tough on Matt Besler and Graham Zusi to decide whether to pursue a move to Europe or stay in MLS…
“There’s no doubt that everyone (on our team) wants to be here, or else Peter (Vermes) wouldn’t keep them here. And it’s easy to see why we want to stay here. I’ve only been in Kansas City for a year and a half, but there’s no place I’d rather be. The fans that are out there every single weekend, the way we play…our entire setup here is fantastic. It’s a class organization. I’m sure Besler and Zusi both have some decisions to make regarding whether they leave or not, but it won’t be an easy one. Sometimes opting to go elsewhere is something you have to do develop your football career, but it’s never an easy decision when you’re leaving a place you really love. They’ll take their time with the decision, and if they decide to stay, we’re going to be thankful.”
Sporting KC forward Dom Dwyer
On his showy goal celebration in the first half…
“(The celebration) was set up. It was mentioned earlier today before the game, and it sounded like quite a cool idea. It was a good bit of fun, but I got a yellow (card) for it. I was lucky I didn’t get another yellow, or else I would have been in big trouble.”
On whether his first half yellow card changed the way he played the rest of the game…
“It was on my mind after that, but it didn’t change how I played. Obviously I wasn’t going to go hard into a 50-50 (challenge), and luckily that opportunity didn’t come.”
On Sporting KC’s 1-1 draw against Chicago…
“I’d rather have three points, but it’s nice to get on the score sheet. I was more excited that I cleared one off the line, to be honest. I really wanted to keep a clean sheet today and was gutted when we allowed one. I thought we defended well throughout the whole game, so I’m a little disappointed there.”
On scoring his 12th goal of the season…
“I just stayed calm. I remember the defender got a bad ball and he didn’t take the best touch. He kind of panicked because I was coming at him quick. He kind of stumbled over the ball and I nicked it from him. I was going to shoot across the keeper’s body, but I saw (Sean Johnson) take a little step to the middle. So I hit it early and slid it past him. Normally you’d go around him, but he’s a big goalie. I just saw a little gap and slid it in there.”
On exchanging goals with defending MLS MVP Mike Magee…
“I have huge respect for him. I think he’s a fantastic player and a great guy, too. He’s sent me messages of encouragement and givent me some good advice. He’s a veteran, a very good player and a former MVP of the League. Obviously I’d like to follow in his footsteps. We’re different players, but we both score goals. That’s a good similarity to have.”
On Sunday’s playing conditions…
“It was stupidly hot. A 2 p.m. game is not fun with that weather. I understand it’s T.V. time, but those were very tough conditions. It was bad at the end there, I was cramping up. But that’s part of football.”
Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC
MLS Regular Season
Toyota Park – July 2, 2014
Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop
On team's overall performance
“I thought we did enough to win the game. When it is eleven men against ten, we should win the game. We had our chances. It's frustrating, I've said it a few times; we've tied and maybe deserved to win the game, but we haven't. That's our problem right now: we can't seem to win a game. We haven't lost a ton, but we haven't won many. It's a weird situation, it's frustrating; we can't get over the finish line with a win. The guys are frustrated in there, we are, as a staff, and me as a head coach. It's not from lack of effort, which is important, it's just lapses of concentration at the wrong time. They had one or two chances and scored one goal; we probably had five to six, seven, eight chances and scored one. It's the story of our season so far, so it's been frustrating.”
On issues with low number of shots on goal
“We'll have to look at them again. I thought we had enough chances to hit the target. I'm not out there, I can't remember all the chances we had. I think the one cross that went in, if we just get a nick on it, we score; Joe Bendik made a very good save, he traps it. [We had] one on a good volley; the offside goal, I haven't seen whether it was offside or not, so it was another good chance. You can't always tell if you’re hitting the target is the right thing; if you try to bend it around the keeper and it just goes wide, sometimes that's unlucky too. But we had enough looks in the final third and in their box to get more than one goal; but we didn't, so that's the story of our season if you like, and our theme tonight.”
On the performance of midfielder Harry Shipp
“Good. On a positive note, Harry's starting to blossom into a good player. I think he's starting to play with a lot of confidence, and he knows he's a good player. He's maturing nicely, and I think that it's no surprise that he does well. He's in a lot of the good stuff that we do going forward. So, very happy with his development. Good goal again; I think he's at six goals already, a great tally for any player, let alone a rookie coming into a brand new, professional league. He's done fantastically well.”
On the performance of forwards Quincy Amarikwa and Mike Magee
“It was difficult. I thought the two center backs were physical and strong, and I spoke to the boys to play a little quicker and try to separate them a little bit. I think, in the second half, we did a better job creating chances. I know it's against ten men, but still, the same back four, or back eight if you like, they got one up front in Jermaine Defoe. I think we created enough opportunities to do better with what we had, and I haven't spoken to either guy yet, but both of them had pretty good looks tonight; just that final, last, little piece was just missing. But I'm not going to fault them for effort, I think that they worked well. They tried to do the right things, moved the ball pretty sharply for us, passed it well. Again, it's a little easier against ten men, but I still think we did the right things to create enough chances, but we just didn't get our final touch.”
On the second center midfield position
“We're looking. It's a spot where Alex has been injured a lot this season; I don't know how many games he's played, it's not been many, he's not played a league game for a good nine weeks or so. Once they went to ten men, I felt we needed something more offensive, and Alex obviously has more of an offensive mind than Chris [Ritter]; Chris had a pretty good bang on his eye, so I think it was a smart move to do that. If you look at the game as a whole, with Alex in there, we did create enough chances to get something out of it. Whether he played really well himself, he didn't play for a while, so he was going to be a little rusty. But I think that the formation was fine, and it gave us enough chances to get into the game or win the game.”
On going for it by substituting forward Juan Luis Anangono for defender Greg Cochrane
“I tend to think, for me, if we're tying, we need to win games. If we had lost 2-1, it didn't really change too much (the points) so we're trying to get three points. We went to three in the back, but it didn't quite work, so I put Jeff [Larentowicz] back. So we were going to go with Jeff, Baky [Soumare], and Patrick [Ianni], but we decided to just go with four and just push Lovel [Palmer] and [Grant] Ward, playing right back, he's really a right wing, forward. We possessed the ball enough, did enough to get something out of it, so we were definitely going for it to try and get a win.”
Chicago Fire Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz
On the break:
“It’s disappointing. We talk about the little things. There’s one chance in this game for the other team and they took it. We were second best.”
On the team’s reaction Yallop’s comments at training:
“What he said was taken in by everybody. There’s time left, however. We can’t hope to hang our hat on ties at the end of year, especially home games and conference games. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”
On the substitutions:
“In other games, earlier in the year, Frank has shown he wants to win and puts on players that are going to make a difference. Last week Juan [Luis Anangano] did that for us in the game.”
On the difference between ties and losses:
“There’s always a difference. However, when you have so many ties that feel like losses, it’s tough.”
Chicago Fire Midfielder Harry Shipp
On his goal:
“I think someone played it out to Mike [Magee] off a corner kick, and I was actually jogging over to take the corner when I saw it go out and I sort of slipped along the endline. I think Mike made the pass, I took a few touches then took the shot and scored.”
On not being able to get the win playing a man up:
“It’s really frustrating, it sucks and it feels like a loss. We should have scored about four goals in the second half. I think we all need to figure out how and what we can do better to not fall behind in the game, that’s the key I think. We started getting into the game, up a man, they scored a goal and that kind of killed us going into halftime.”
On the possibility of Rookie of Year Honors:
“It’s not even on my mind. When you’re on a team like this with two wins all year, you’re focusing everyday on trying to go in and get a win and to learn how to get better. I’d rather not score a goal all year and be on a winning team than score however many goals I score and be on a losing team. So, Rookie of the Year is not really on my mind.”
On the substitutions:
“We had the ball pretty much the entire second half. Being up a man obviously helps that, but we can’t afford to tie at home. We came in to this game knowing that we needed a win, we kind of billed it as a game to turn our season around, which hopefully gives us momentum heading into the second half of the year. It didn’t happen, so we have to look toward Kansas City on Sunday.”
Toronto FC Head Coach Ryan Nelson
On surviving with a point on the road:
“Yeah, any point on the road is a very good point, especially when you go down to ten men. The guys were absolutely fantastic. Really in control of the game, up until the decision, and even then I thought we looked like we were going to get one on the break. They [Chicago] did very well in the second half, as they would, Frank’s a very good coach, and pushed us high and we kind of sat back and we didn’t have the confidence to maybe press a little higher, and force them into making mistakes. They kind of trapped us in a wee bit, but we had to defend. We defended very well. When you’re down to ten men, you need a lot of organization and a lot of character and a lot of strength, and I think the boys showed that in abundance.”
On Jackson’s goal:
“We worked on that potentially but our wide guys would have a lot of influence running in behind their defenders and it just happened to be that he got himself into that position and it was a perfect cross. Really good finish.”
On the team holding its defensive shape for the duration of the second half:
“They had every excuse to lose it. Away from home, and Chicago desperate for a win, absolutely desperate for a win, and Frank’s done a great job with them, they are a great team. Obviously with then me, we had to sharpen our steel; this point is very valuable. It proves now that at six unbeaten that when we are away from home, and being down to ten men twice, we’ve managed to get something out of the game. That’s extremely important.”
Toronto FC Defender Nick Hagglund
On fighting through being down to ten men for over 60 minutes:
“I was pretty proud of the guys and how we responded with that red card. A lot of times, people go down, especially when you go early in the game, you’re down and out. Usually a red card towards the end of the game is a little different, and you push a little bit more. I thought we being zero-zero, I thought we did well.”
On what Coach Nelson said at halftime:
“He said just to stay organized. We knew that they were going into halftime, they were going to change their plan a little bit more and figure us out with ten men versus eleven men, but I thought we made sure we were tight and made it difficult for them to score.”
On coming away with a point:
“I think in the locker room we were pretty disappointed. I think the goal was soft. Could have been deflected. Joe got a hand on it. I think everyone here is disappointed that we didn’t get the three points, because we were up. I think it’s a step in the right direction. To be disappointed with getting a tie and not three points [especially on the road].”
On going into the three game home stand coming off the World Cup break:
“We are pretty excited to get Mike [Bradley] back in the lineup. Being at home, we are tough at home. That is where we thrive. We still have two or three games in hand on most teams so there’s an opportunity for us to jump up standings.”
Toronto FC Midfielder Jackson
On earning a hard fought point:
“We weren’t expecting to play with ten men. However, this team is a strong team, and we fought through it. As a whole we played really together and we got that point that we needed.”
On his goal:
“At training we talk a lot and we practice it and we communicate constantly. Fortunately, I was at the right spot at the right time. We continued to fight and continued to be a team as whole and get ahead.”
On taking advantage of the space on the flanks to utilize on counterattacks:
“I was fully aware of the space I had so I was just waiting for that one spot, that one time, and I got it with myself and Dom [Oduro]. Unfortunately, the goalkeeper got a hand on it and I was happy with that touch but I want to reiterate again that we have to continue working strong as a team, whether we have ten men or eleven men.”