Blog

Blog

26 August 9:35 am

Every season I like to take in a few away matches as a fan and with a Toronto away date finally coming on a weekend again, I did so on Saturday.

The ups and downs of that match are easily memorable and even though the team didn't walk away with three points, the fighting spirit displayed to earn a point at a bolstered TFC side gave positive feelings as we walked away from BMO Field.

During that maze of an exit through the carnival going on at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Section 8 Chicago chairman Pattrick Stanton pointed out to me that both Robert Earnshaw and Quincy Amarikwa scored against their former side Toronto FC and said, "That has to be the first time two players have ever done that for the Fire."

While I fancy myself a "stat man", i honestly couldn't rifle through the previous 520 matches in my head to confirm. With the help of a small bit of free time, I can confirm that Pattrick is right.... sort of, with an asterisk*

Technically on August 25, 2001 Ante Razov -AND- DaMarcus Beasley scored in a 3-1 victory over the LA Galaxy at The Rose Bowl. The reason this stat was asterisk worthy was because while Beasley, who scored a second half brace in that match was originally allocated to the LA Galaxy in 1999, he never played for the side that year.

Instead the Fort Wayne, Ind. native played a couple games with the Project-40 team (a precursor to Generation adidas) and the bulk of his time that year with the U.S. U-17 National Team that finished fourth at the World Championships in New Zealand. At that tournament, DMB was awarded the Silver Ball, as second best player of the competition behind teammate Landon Donovan.

In other words, while Beasley was part of the Galaxy, a lot of his time was spent away from LA before being traded to the Fire for the club's natural first round SuperDraft selections in 2000 and 2001... HISTORY SIDE BAR: The Galaxy selected Danny Califf (2000) and Isaias Bardales, Jr. (2001) with those picks. 

So with that in mind I'll make up a new stat...

Saturday's goals from Earnshaw and Amarikwa were the first from Fire players in the same game who actually played for the former team they scored against. A mouth full for sure, but certainly noteworthy.

In my research, I also found three instances where a player scored a brace against his former side. All of these are listed below. 

Date Game/Result Goal Scorer(s)
May 22, 1999 3-1 W vs. Kansas City Diego Gutierrez 27' 75'
August 25, 2001 4-1 W at LA Galaxy Ante Razov 5', DaMarcus Beasley 64, 93'+
June 12, 2004 2-3 L at LA Galaxy Ante Razov 28', 67'
October 12, 2008 2-2 D vs. Columbus Crew Brian McBride 13', 79'
August 23, 2014 2-2 D at Toronto FC Robert Earnshaw 70', Quincy Amarikwa 90'

 

28 July 2:29 pm

Prior to Saturday's friendly vs. Tottenham Hotspur, Fire players Patrick Ianni and Matt Fondy joined Spurs counterparts Zeki Fryers and Tom Carroll to pay visits to patients at the University of Illinois Children's Hospital. 

A look at some of their stops:

21 July 11:53 am

Highlights from the first stop on Tottenham Hotspur's North American Tour vs. the Seattle Sounders.

08 July 11:27 am

It had been a long-time coming and put off a bit by Gonzalo Segares' ankle injury earlier this season but the Costa Rican's appearance in the Fire's 1-1 draw at Sporting KC had a ring of history to it. 

With the 90 minute shift, Segares played his 216th regular season game for the club, moving him past goalkeeper Zach Thornton for third all-time on the club's MLS regular season appearance list, joining current Fire assistant coach CJ Brown (1st, 296) and teammate Logan Pause (2nd, 279).

Fire kitman Charles Raycroft worked a little magic and made the trio these jerseys to commemorate the occasion...

Congrats to Gonzalo on joining the club and thanks to all three of you for your 791 regular season matches and 35 years of combined service to the Fire! 

For your reference, here is the club's Top 15 MLS Appearance List:

Rank Player Games Played Years
1 C.J. Brown 296 1998-2010
2 Logan Pause 279* 2003-present
3 Gonzalo Segares 216* 2005-present
4 Zach Thornton 215 1998-2006
5 Chris Armas 214 1998-2007
6 Jesse Marsch 200 1998-2005
7 Chris Rolfe 178 2005-2009, 2012-2014
8 Justin Mapp 174 2003-2010
9 Patrick Nyarko 169* 2008-present
10 Diego Gutierrez 157 1998-2001, 2006-2008
11 Ante Razov 155 1998-2004
12 Jim Curtin 151 1998-2007
13 Sean Johnson 116* 2010-present
14 Peter Nowak 114 1998-2002
15 Marco Pappa 112 2008-2012

See more historical Fire player stats in the TrueCar Player Registry.

02 July 10:44 pm

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.”

23 June 4:07 pm

Mexico has every right to celebrate after today's 3-1 victory over Croatia pushed them into the Knockout Round in Brazil.

No doubt frustrated after another dubious call, Mexico eventually unleashed three goals in 10 minutes from Rafa Marquez (72'), Andres Guardado (75') and Javier Hernandez (82').

Even if you're a U.S. supporter, you have to appreciate that Mexico is through to the next round if only because of the possibility of more celebrations like this from manager Miguel Herrera. Go on, Mexico! 

Rafa Marquez goal

Andres Guardado's goal

13 June 2:48 pm

Holland wasn't supposed to be "up" for this World Cup and early on in their tournament opener vs. Spain, that seemed like it might be true. 

Then Robin van Persie score this goal to level things just before halftime... 

Braces from RVP (44', 72') and Arjen Robben (53', 80') as well as another goal from Stefan de Vrij have the world in shock as Holland has found payback from their World Cup finals defeat four years ago, defeating Spain 5-1 today in Salvador.

Let's just say I'm feeling pretty good about my Fire staff World Cup pool team right about now...

07 June 10:02 pm

Select shots from the Fire's loss to the Sounders presented by MiAllstate.

 

06 June 2:39 pm

As the Chicago Fire and Seattle Sounders clash Saturday at Toyota Park, more than a few players will be lining up against their former teammates. A photographic trip down memory lane...

Drafted by the Chicago Fire in 2005, Chad Barrett made 82 Regular Season appearances for the Fire before being traded to Toronto FC in exchange for the rights to Brian McBride in mid-2008. Barrett has bounced around the league, playing with TFC, LA Galaxy and New England Revolution before settling in Seattle this season.

The former Fire first round draft pick has performed well in Clint Dempsey's USMNT absence, scoring a goal in each of the last two games for Seattle. 

Marco Pappa makes his first return to Toyota Park since being sold to Dutch Eredivisie side Hereenveen in August 2012. Things didn't work out for Pappa in Holland and he returned to MLS this season where Seattle grabbed him via allocation (though the Fire did make inquiries into bringing him back to Chicago). Pappa sits tied with Piotr Nowak for fourth on the club's all-time goal list (26) and is best remembered for some absolutely highlight reel strikes during his time in Chicago, one of which won the 2010 MLS Goal of the Year.

The Fire's first round selection in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Anibaba was a starter nearly his entire time in Chicago, appearing in 96 MLS matches over the course of three seasons. The defender was traded to Seattle the night before this year's MLS SuperDraft but has appeared in just five matches for the Sounders so far this season. 

Though he's a Sounder now, we will always remember his 2011 Chicago Fire Goal of the Year strike, "THROUGH THE GUISE OF SMOKE!"

Prior to being one piece of the deal that came to Chicago in the Anibaba trade, Patrick Ianni spent five seasons in Seattle after being acquired from the Houston Dynamo in 2009. The UCLA product made 83 MLS appearances and won three straight U.S. Open Cup titles with Seattle prior to January's swap. Ianni has provided depth for the Fire in defense this season and likely would have a few more appearances if not for a bout of sickness this past week.

The other piece to the Anibaba trade, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado is the only Fire player other than Sean Johnson to play every minute of every game and has likely been the best on the back line in 2014. Like Ianni, Hurtado joined Seattle in 2009, appearing in 108 matches, helping the Sounders to three straight Open Cup titles -- he even played 90 minutes in Seattle's 2-0 defeat of the Fire in the 2011 final. 

"I'm excited to play against my former team," Hurtado told Chicago-Fire.com Friday. "I have only words of gratitude to the people at the Sounders, the fans, my friends back there. I spent five happy years there, my boys were born in Seattle, so it is a special place. Tomorrow is a new change. I'm here in Chicago, I play for the people here, the fans that live and die with us and we have an important game against Seattle before the World Cup."

06 June 7:15 am

After picking up a second draw in four days, the Fire head back from Denver with their heads held high after collecting a good road point. The last match before the World Cup break will offer a considerable challenge as league-leading Seattle Sounders, a team in good spirits after a 4-0 drubbing of RSL last weekend, come to Toyota Park Saturday night (LIVE on My50 at 7:30pm CT). Here are some things to keep an eye on from a tactical perspective…

Limiting the involvement of Chad Barrett – stopping the supply to the former Fire striker

In the absence of Clint Dempsey, former Fire striker Chad Barrett has stepped up and performed extremely well for the Sounders. Despite his size and the fact the club have Kenny Cooper in their ranks, coach Sigi Schmid has deployed Barrett as a target striker in recent matches to great effect.

Barrett seems to have modeled his new found role after San Jose Earthquakes striker Steven Lenhart, often using his head or chest to cushion the ball in the direction of his fellow attackers such as Obi Martins and Lamar Nagle. Barrett has also chipped in with two goals in his last two matches for the Sounders.

Barrett is deceptively good in the air too, and with players like Brad Evans and Marco Pappa putting in crosses, the Fire need to be aware of where Barrett is on the field at all times. Against RSL last week, Barrett often found space by peeling off and making runs to the back post undetected. He was almost found a number of occasions and but for some better crosses/through balls, he might have a lot more than one goal.

Similar to players like Marco Pappa and Justin Mapp, the Fire fan base is openly divided about Barrett’s contributions as a Fire player. One thing’s for sure, he would like nothing more than contributing to the Fire’s downfall on Saturday night.

Limiting the Sounders set piece opportunities – not allowing Pineda and Pappa to put in dangerous deliveries

Though the Fire have improved greatly at defending set pieces, the Sounders will give them a stern test on Saturday evening.

With the twin threats of Gonzalo Pineda and Marco Pappa, Seattle posses two of the best dead ball takers in MLS. The Fire will also need to deal with players like Brad Evans, Zack Scott and Chad Marshall, defenders who are very good in the air.

On set pieces, the Sounders usually have two routines. The first is to whip the ball into the box and look for someone like Marshall or Barrett to get a head on it. The second is to float the ball into the box and look to attack the second ball after a Sounders player heads it back across the box in the direction of where the free kick came from.

The Fire gave up 13 fouls in Colorado and were very aggressive against Robbie Keane last Saturday at Toyota Park. The Men in Red have made a number of mental mistakes on set pieces this season so limiting the number of fouls in the Fire’s defensive third will be critical on Saturday night.  

Targeting Seattle’s central defensive pairing – keeping the ball on the ground and using our attacking pace

With what the Sounders central defenders have in experience and aerial ability, they certainly lack in pace – something the Fire should be looking to target on Saturday night.

Marshall, Scott and Djimi Traore are all very accomplished defenders but aren’t always comfortable in 1v1 situations, especially against an attacker with pace. With this in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if Frank Yallop goes with a lot of pace and trickery when choosing his attacking players for this match.

An attacking midfield trio of Benji Joya, Harry Shipp and Grant Ward with Quincy Amarikwa playing ahead of them would be very difficult for the Seattle defense. All four players are very good in 1v1 situations and Ward and Amarikwa aren’t afraid to take players on.

On Saturday night, the Fire should be focusing on attacking Seattle centrally and if the players mentioned can pick up the ball in the space between Osvaldo Alonso and the Sounders central defenders, it could result in the breakthrough.

Prediction: The Fire head into the World Cup break with another point – 1-1 with a goal from Benji Joya.

Stephen Piggott is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @irish_steve.

WATCH: MLSsoccer.com's Scouting Report: Fire vs. Sounders