Midfielder Patrick Nyarko is nearing a forgettable one-year anniversary: Oct. 18, 2014, the day he tore his ACL in a road match at D.C. United.
The injury was an unfortunate end to a 2014 campaign that already was laden with injuries, one in which he appeared in exactly half of Chicago's 34 matches with only nine starts. That came on the heels of five straight seasons of 27 or more appearances, with at least 20 starts in all five.
After ultimately re-signing in the offseason with the only MLS club he has called home, Nyarko dedicated himself to rehabbing his injury and, after months of strenuous work, made a triumphant return to the pitch in a U.S. Open Cup match on June 30.
And, while tugging at the reins at times to maintain the proper strength, he's largely been able to return to his playmaking ways of old.
"Everybody comes off an injury differently, some guys take longer," said technical director and interim head coach Brian Bliss. "Patrick was right back at it early on (after returning), despite the long layoff. His contribution, points-wise to minutes played, is pretty fantastic when you look at it. If you'd had him for 28 or 30 games who knows what his numbers could be."
Bliss is on point in his evaluation of Nyarko's injury-shortened season. With four goals and four assists in 18 total MLS and U.S. Open Cup appearances, Nyarko's goals-plus-assists average per 90 minutes stands at 0.70, easily surpassing his previous high set in 2010 (0.46) when he tallied one goal and 10 assists in 28 games played.
Last week, he unlocked the Toronto FC defense with a penetrating pass in the game's first minute to set up Gilberto's first goal, and set in motion his second-half strike when he spun off Michael Bradley and found Mike Magee for a one-timer onto Gilberto. The two assists increased his total to 38 for his MLS career, tying him for third on Chicago's all-time list.
Nyarko left the match at TFC in the 55th minute with a slight knock but was back in full training this week in preparation for Saturday's matchup with New England. With so much of Chicago's offensive success in 2015 stemming from Nyarko and David Accam on the wings, there's reason for Bliss to expect more of the same come next season.
"My guess is, as we (often) see medically, guys get stronger and better the year after an ACL injury," Bliss said. "Hopefully it's the same and even better next year for Patrick."
Wednesday, Sept. 30: Sean Johnson
4650 W North Ave.
Chicago, IL 60639
Wednesday, Sept. 30: Harry Shipp
2552 W 75th St.
Naperville, IL 60540
Wednesday, Sept. 30: Sparky
7050 S Cicero Ave.
Bedford Park, IL 60638
Thursday, Oct. 1: Sean Johnson
1508 W 47th St.
Chicago, IL 60609
Interim Head Coach
Some positives out of the game today, Gilberto scores two goals, what can you say about his play today?
Anybody that comes in to play an old team will try and put a nail in someone’s coffin, put in a little bit extra it happens all the time. So credit to him, he was extra motivated and hopefully he can build on that motivation and not just do it against TFC but against every other team in the league.
If you were to draw up a scenario where you score in the first minute you have got to like that, what happened after the first goal then doing it again in the second half?
I will disagree with you on that one it usually isn’t good to score early in the first half or the second half and we did both. It usually gives the opponent so much more time to regroup and drive the game a little bit more but you have to take the goals when they come whether it is early or late in the half. But we have to find a better way to sustain the pressure and that to me is being able to keep the ball and moving it better and that is side to side and getting the opponents to chase the ball a little more. We didn’t do that.
You talked a bit about marking Giovinco not just the first guy but the second guy, still a handful either way. What is it like playing against a guy like that?
Yeah, he’s dynamic he got his stuff done today but I thought overall we did a pretty good job of shutting him down. Jeff did a good job when he was isolated with him; Doody did well when he was isolated. He spun a couple of our guys in the first half at the edge of the box but I thought we had some cover in there, he got in a couple times too but no shame in that he has done it to just about every team in the league.
What are you looking to work on going forward after a whirlwind of a week?
Just the mentality of the team, we are going to have to learn to want to play and want to have the ball and be confident. Whether you are on the road or at home you have to want the ball and want to maintain it. That is what we are going to be thinking about and talking about in terms of our mentality and wanting the ball and wanting to make a contribution.
Scored two goals against your old team, how did it feel to come back here and score against your old team in front of the fans again?
I love Chicago, I love playing there now but I have a lot of respect for Toronto and what they did for me last year. But this is the business of football and I am a hard worker and this is who I am playing for now in Chicago.
Tell me about the two goals, how did it feel to get the two goals and help your team stay in the game there?
It felt good to get the two goals, unfortunately we did not get the win which is what we came here to do. We need to work a little bit more and we have a big home game coming up and need to work towards that.
What does the team need to get a win next weekend and improve going forward?
We have a strong team a really good team what we need to do now is mature as a team. Last year Toronto brought in a few new players, but our group needs to stick together we are getting better. After one year it is hard to gauge how we are going to be but we are getting better as a group and closer so hopefully next year we’ll be more prepared and go for it.
Patrick, starting with the positives you ended up being the link for both goals can you tell us about that?
The guys up front are smart and it makes it a lot easier for me to do my job. They make great runs and I just have to put the ball where it needs to be and they did the rest. We were in front both halves right from the get go and we had chances but at the end we lost another game and have to keep pushing on.
Gilberto has been around a few games, you guys are linking up well, what does he bring to the team?
First of all he is a hard worker, a great finisher and with him, Mike and Kennedy up there I just need to do my job and put the ball into the right spot for them and they will do the rest and finish it. They are smart players and make great runs so it makes my job much easier. Having said that with lineup shuffles we are still getting to know each other and need to a lot more but once we get that we will be very good.
Montreal Impact 2:1 Chicago Fire
September 23, 2015
Chicago Fire Interim Head Coach Brian Bliss
On Chicago's performance...
“I thought we were a little hesitant in the first half, and we conceded one. But I thought we regrouped in the second half and that at half time we came out with a little more energy, a little but more collectiveness if you will. We got the goal, but unfortunately we broke again instead of bending. [Montreal is] scrapping for every point they could get to keep some of the teams off their heels in the playoff race. When we get down to the end of the season and points are as valuable as today, this is the kind of play you’ll get. We’ve got all man up and just keep playing.”
On Montreal's opening goal...
“I think it was possibly a mistake on the referee’s side. It looked like a foul to me and probably most people in the stands. They have to call it like they see and we kind of have to live with it and we’ve got to still recover from that.”
GK Jon Busch
On the performance and the first goal...
“Obviously disappointed again with the loss. We created some good chances, on a different night maybe some of those go in for us. We’re also disappointed because we feel on the first goal that Drogba throws Jeff down, I mean it’s obvious, and nothing's called. As far as I’m concerned that’s unacceptable.”
On the coaching change
“It's tough for [Brian Bliss], because he had two days to train and that was it. But you could see the difference already in where we’re pressing, and when they were in their zone guys were flying at them and we got a lot of turnovers that way. The boys responded very well to what Brian brought in very quickly.”
On the team's effort
“It was a great effort from everyone tonight. There was a lot of positive from today’s game. We played really well, created a lot of chances, and we should’ve taken our chances. For me, even though we lost, there was so much positive in this game.”
On Didier Drogba
“Of course, we all know he’s a good player and he plays with a lot of quality on the pitch. We tried to contain him but with his experience it’s difficult. Obviously our guys still did really well even though they scored.”
Chicago Fire 0 – 1 Orlando City SC
Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015
Toyota Park – Bridgeview, IL
Frank Yallop, Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer
On the performance of the current roster
"I thought we played well enough to get something out of the match; if not win, at least a tie. Just frustrating. I feel really bad for the guys, they worked hard, they were doing things that I thought, and we feel as a group, that's good enough to get more points on the table. What we're getting is very frustrating right now. You can say whatever you want about it. We seem to find every sort of opportunity to give goals up, and tonight, we obviously couldn't get a great chance on goal to score. In general, I can't fault the guys for effort, at all, I can't do that. They gave it everything they had, just couldn't get it done tonight. But talking about the roster for next year, right now is not the time to do that."
On Orlando's lone goal
"I only saw it live, I haven't seen it on tape yet. It looked like Joevin Jones gets out to shade but doesn't mark the cross. We've been working a lot on that because we've seen a lot of crosses that cause damages here. We've worked on that. A guy running from midfield has a bit of a free run, ricochets a bit, but again I haven't seen it on tape yet. It just seemed a little loose, and you get punished. Tonight, we didn't get too many chances like that, and it seems like we get punished for every half mistake we make, which is difficult to take, but you have to take it in the chin."
On Orlando’s three subs being involved in the goal
"It's a bonus for Orlando if their subs work out. I felt we did enough in the game to get something out of it. I thought we got some good half-looks that we didn't pull the trigger on and hit the target with venom and power, and being precise. Great subs by them if you want to say that, sure; but we have to do better defensively to stop that. Having said that, that would have made it nil-nil anyway, but we need to win the game at home. We didn't have some really clear-cut chances that I thought we needed to have to win the match. We had some decent moments, I think David [Accam] was nearly on the end of really doing something, but didn't really create a ton of chances that were clear-cut for us, which is what I look at. They hit the bar, had the goal; we had some near misses off bad plays, the final pass wasn't there for us. That's the story of the game. I wouldn't say we possessed the ball well, it was even, but I thought we pushed and shoved and looked like we were going to get into the game and win the game from the 60th minute on. Then we get sucker punched in the end, which is difficult to take."
On the performance of midfielder David Accam
"We moved him around. He was up front with Kennedy to start, we put him out wide left, put Harry underneath, put him wide right just to try and give him a little bit of scope and room to maneuver. He still had his chances though. Orlando sat back a little bit, which is normal away from home. Didn't quite have the gaps and space that is normal, but I still think he had enough looks with his ability to create something from that. It's not a slight on David at all, it just didn't quite come off tonight; he's our game-winner, he's very good, he's very dangerous. He was pretty close at getting something done but it just wasn't quite his night tonight in the final pass or shot."
On the performance of defenders Ty Harden and Daneil Cyrus
"In general, I think our shape's been okay, we have to look individually. I think Ty's not played a ton of games over the last six months, but he's a solid center back that I think can get the job done. Tonight wasn't his fault for the goal; it looked like he sort of slipped, and let the midfield runner come through. Maybe not the greatest night in New York for Ty, but he sticks to his tasks, and heads the ball out and defends when he needs to. I think Cyrus settled in quite well; doesn't have quite that many minutes with us in training, and obviously in game situations, but I like what I've seen from him. Again, I haven't seen the goal, but it looks like he's on that side, so I don't know what happened, but in general, I think both guys have been okay. We don't give up a ton of chances; they hit the cross bar and scored the goal. Other than that, I think we defended okay, but we got punished for an error we gave up."
On making substitutions late in the game
"I felt we looked like we were going to get something out of the game, most of it. We're driving on, we're getting chances, then we have the flurry of chances right before we made the subs. But, hindsight's easy, I think for us, I felt we were doing okay and getting chances. Kennedy's getting these little sniffs here and there, David's always dangerous; I just felt bringing Mikey out and putting Mike Magee on gave us another chance at a goal. [Jason Johnson] has shown, as a sub especially at home, he's made an impact. It's easy to sit back and say 'we should have done it earlier,' but I felt we were going to get something out of the game before that."
David Accam, Chicago Fire Forward
On the loss
“It’s difficult. I’ve not been in this position before. We keep making the same mistake every game. It’s like, the first 70 minutes we play well and if we don’t score, we concede in the last minute. It’s what happens every game. I can’t really tell what’s wrong with the team. We have good players, we have a good team but still, we don’t get results but it’s difficult to understand what’s happening.”
On the mood of the team
“Everyone is down, it’s difficult but the best thing is that we have a game again in four days so we need to keep ourselves up and go again on Wednesday.”
On if this team needs a reinforced roster
“I think that question is for the coach. We need more help. We keep getting the same result every game, even though we play well, it’s the same result, we don’t get the positive result that we need, so I think maybe we need help, maybe.”
Patrick Nyarko, Chicago Fire Midfielder
On tangling up near goal
"We’re just being aggressive. You're asked to show that, and I feel we've not shown that passion enough. Tonight was a night that we knew was going to be a sold-out crowd. We came out with the energy we needed, we played the right way. A little frustrating we couldn't get the breakthrough, and as it was going towards the end, we tended to lose our concentration and lose our discipline, and they got their goal. That sums our season, really. We've really not been [there] soccer-wise, in terms of playing. The end result has really gone against us, it just seems like it's not turning and the luck has not been on our side. But we're going to keep fighting, there's still games to play, and hopefully we can get some wins."
On keeping focus near the end of the regular season
"We have a relatively young team, but with experience. Some young guys coming out of Europe have played in Europe for a long time, they're professionals, everyone is a professional in here. We owe it to our fans, the club, and the organization, the opportunity that’s been given us to represent this club, we owe it. Regardless of having been in the playoffs way back, or right now, or in a couple games, we just need to go out and try to get some wins and make our fans happy. These guys have supported us all year, even though it's been rocky, and they keep coming out to support us. They need something to cheer about, we have to reward them, that's the least we can do. I think the guys are aware of that."
On a spotty road record
"We're not going to desist from the plan. We go on the road hoping to win games. It's not happened for us, but there's been a few games where we've been in there, we just lose concentration. We just need to correct our mistakes, we make way too many easy, simple mistakes. We just need to correct those, especially on the road, and play with discipline. Hopefully we can come out with a few wins on the road."
On providing a veteran presence
"It's just an average day thing. Us veterans, we need to hammer it into the minds of young kids. It's been a rocky couple of years; the kids that have been here, they've not really experienced winning here. It's just up to us veterans to tell them there's something like that, it gives you confidence, once you get that confidence, everything will come, but it starts with doing the little things right in 90 minute games. Staying in it every single minute of it, it's always going to be hard, there's no easy games in MLS, regardless of who you're playing. Keeping that concentration, there's been games that we go up, but we give up a goal right after, it's all about concentration and making up your mind to not get scored on in certain periods of the game. It's our job, it's the job of the veterans, and hopefully we can impart that into the young guys."
Fire fans will have opportunities to meet five members of the Chicago Fire on Thursday, Sept. 17 and Friday, Sept. 18. See complete details below:
Thursday, Sept. 17: Lovel Palmer and Matt Watson
3359 Chicago Rd.
South Chicago Heights, IL 60411
Thursday, Sept. 17: Razvan Cocis
Floor & Decor
3300 Oakton St.
Skokie, IL 60076
Friday, Sept. 18: Adaílton and Michael Stephens
1491 W Roosevelt Rd.
West Chicago, IL 60185
One of Chicago's great celebrations of culture and heritage was held Sunday in the city's Little Village neighborhood, with the 46th annual Mexican Independence Day Parade bringing out thousands of revelers for the occasion. Representatives of the Chicago Fire Street Team, including Sparky, marched alongside Gov. Bruce Rauner, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other notable civic and cultural leaders in one of the most festive days of the year for Chicago's Mexican population.
Check out a few photos from the club's participation in the parade below:
— Chicago Fire (@ChicagoFire) September 13, 2015
Chicago Fire Head Coach Frank Yallop
On the match:
Dangerous on the break we were, I thought that we created some good chances especially in the first half. Had a great chance at 2-1 to go 3-1 up on David's [Accam] break. I haven't seen the penalty again, but it seemed a little bit harsh, but that's football.
On Chicago's defense tonight:
If you look at Daneil's [Cyrus] first game was good, I thought Ty Harden did well and I thought Jeff [Larentowicz] stuck with his tasks well so I commend those three guys to sticking with it and making it difficult for the Red Bulls which is what they try to do. They didn't have a ton of clear-cut chances and that's because those three guys defended well.
On the offense clicking:
I think you saw the actual complete ability, especially for the first 60 minutes, David Accam is electric when he plays and creates so many chances, in the first half especially. We just couldn't maintain a good possession, their midfield's very good and Felipe, Dax McCarty, and [Sacha] Kljestan so possession-wise they had more of the ball than we did, but it was kind of the game plan, we wanted to catch them on the break and I think we did that especially for the first 55 minutes.
On the status of Kennedy Igboananike:
He's ok, I think he's got a bang so it was on his ankle. He said he's ok.
On preparing for the next match:
Like normal, prepare for the match. Just make sure that we are mentally, physically ready and go for it. I think we've played well enough to have more wins than we have, but table doesn't lie. We're bottom and we've got to keep going and fighting and keep building as [much as] we can.
Chicago Fire Goalkeeper Sean Johnson
On tonight's match:
It was a match where I thought, early on, we had it under a bit of control. It was very tough to go two up, especially away in a place like this where it is tough to get results, and losing the game 3-2, coming away with nothing, it's really disappointing. As a whole, I thought we did some good things in the match, obviously we need to go back and look at the negatives.
On going up 2-0 to start the match:
At that point I'm thinking personally, 'We've got to do our job-they're going to start throwing numbers forward. They're going to look to win this game. If they win this game, they're going to start moving up in the standings as well.' So for us it was a matter of staying disciplined, that was the main word tonight. That's what we needed and we had a little lack of discipline of the defensive end of the ball, and going forward as well.
On adjusting to two new members of the backline:
I've said before, we have the depth on this team, and guys can step in at any point in time. Obviously, it's a task to get everyone on the same page immediately when getting into a game, but you feel it out. We're up 2-0 so I think that's the best thing that could've happened for them and for us as a team, and I thought they did a good job tonight.
On the growth of the team:
Yes [I think there is growth in the team]. Obviously, over the course of the season when you don't get results, it doesn't show growth, but I think we're starting to learn from our mistakes, and we're taking these and putting them in the memory bank, and we're really starting to build on what we can with six games left in the season.
Chicago Forward David Accam:
On the performance:
As a team, especially in the second half, I don't think we played really well as a team. Even though we really showed some qualities, but for me we didn't fight to the end and for me they wanted it more than us.
On attacking partnership with Kennedy Igboananike and ability as goal threats:
It does, but soccer is a team sport. Even though us two score goals, it doesn't matter if we keep conceding and I think it's good that me and Kennedy are playing really well, but we need to play as a team and we need to start defending really well and be strong everywhere on the pitch.
Chicago Fire at Orlando City SC
MLS Regular Season
Citrus Bowl – Orlando, Fla.
Aug. 29, 2015
Chicago Fire Head Coach Frank Yallop
On the game and rain delay:
“I think the rain affected both teams. It seemed like at the end of the game we both were kind of on our last legs. I think a draw is fair. We had a good first half. Playing on Wednesday caught up with us a little bit. Orlando had some good chances the second half. We had a goal called offside which would have made it one zero, and then we scored the next goal. But all and all a point away from home was a fair result.”
On moving forward:
“We’ve got a big, big game next Saturday in Montreal. It’s not for all the marbles, but if we can get a win there it keeps us in playoff hunt. So it’s a big game and we’ve got to get ready for that one.”
Chicago Fire’s David Accam (forward)
On the goal:
“From when I got the ball, I thought there was space on his left side so what came into my mind was just shoot first and that’s what I did.”
Heading into international duty:
“My confidence is up. I just need to head into international play, and I’m hopeful moving forward.”
Chicago Fire’s Razvan Cocis (midfield)
On weather delay:
“Well there’s not much you can do about the weather, so we wait for the signal to go out. Both times we were on the field we had about 10 minutes to warm up. Although I felt like second half we were a little bit tired, especially because we had a mid-week game.”
Assist on David Accam’s Goal:
“I get the ball and I know David is usually playing wide. The ball was meant for him, but it was a little low. I remember that Gilberto couldn’t control it, and it just went through but he got it and scored the goal.”
On players leaving for internationals:
“It’s going to be hard with players going away on international teams, but still we need to play. We have to stay focused. We are still hoping and we are still fighting for playoffs so we have to be concentrating on the next game.”
Fire fans will have two opportunities to meet members of the Chicago Fire during the weekend of Aug. 28-30. See complete details below:
Friday, Aug. 28: Ty Harden
AT&T Retail Location
1730 W Fullerton Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
Beginning at 6 p.m., Ty Harden will be signing autographs and giving away a select number of tickets to future Chicago Fire home matches
Sunday, Aug. 30: Adailton
Cermak Fresh Produce
1250 Lake St.
Aurora, IL 60506