Blog

Chicago Fire

28 August 3:14 pm

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
6-7:30 p.m.
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
12-1:30 p.m.

26 August 11:15 pm

Frank Yallop, Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer

On winning the match 
“Great result, that’s the big thing for me, good performance too. I think I was very happy with all the guys tonight. We dug deep tonight, got a great result against a good team. I think that was very important for us.”

On the inconsistency of results
“MLS is built on parity, and I think we showed it tonight. We beat Dallas, who were on a five-game winning streak, we handed them a result that wasn’t good for them. We beat Seattle when they were pretty hot too. This league’s even; it’s tiny, little things that make the difference in games, and tonight, we got the bounce of the ball, if you’d like. That’s kind of missing a little bit for us. But I thought we played great; I was really, really happy, especially first half. We could’ve scored four goals; that’s the type of football that I like, the sort of ‘I want to go out and attack teams, and get at teams.’ I thought we really did that. Great attitude, and I thought we did great.”

On the recent form of Michael Stephens
“I think the way Michael’s been, you can’t have him out of the lineup right now. Big thing for me is making sure guys that don’t play or don’t get their minutes…are on board. Mike’s a great guy, always on board, he wants to be part of a winning team that’s playing well. He really works hard in training, and he’s ready to play any time. The last two or three games, he’s done very well. I thought tonight, he was excellent. I thought Razvan and him were good tonight against a very good midfield three that’s difficult to play against. I thought he did great, and I’m very happy for him.”

On Kennedy Igboananike’s two-goal performance
“Any time you score two goals is good. I always say this, and we’ve talked about it a little bit: it takes a while for guys to settle and get their feel. It’s a tough league to come into from the outside. He’s got maybe eight goals [across competitions]…but big thing for me is, he works hard, he wants to do well, he tries his best, and he scores two goals to win us the game. So, very happy for him, he’s a good kid that works hard, and the guys really like him and back him up, and I thought he did great tonight. Getting a winning goal is great.”

On the play of Patrick Nyarko and David Accam on the wings
“Tonight was a game that I felt, watching New York, they’re very narrow defensively, which is a good thing at times; but other times, when we have pace out wide, you can expose that. I felt that I just wanted to play Patrick and David out in wide positions because, if you could switch it out to them, I think they could get out one-on-one and create stuff. I think the tactics were very good tonight, they worked pretty well. Obviously, the goals we conceded…I’ve seen them. The first one, I’m not sure of, but I can see it. The second one is, you can only touch the ball once to play the ball, and Kljestan touches it three times, and then Zubar walks in with the ball, so that was hard to take. But from that, we come back and we won the game. So I was very pleased with everybody’s performance tonight, and the fighting spirit of the team, which is important.”

On building for a tough stretch of road games
“It’s difficult. It’s not been a great season, obviously. We’re bottom of the league, we’re not sure in points now, but I feel we’ve performed better than the points have shown. That’s always a building block for me. I think that circumstances in the season have cost us points, individual errors, guys not being healthy, all those things come into it. I think you saw our team tonight, it was pretty good. We’re showing a lot on the field. I was excited when we got the ball going forward, it was good to see. So I’m forever optimistic, obviously we have a big, big hill to climb to make the playoffs but we have to keep going, keep moving up. I think that we can’t worry about playing away or home, but we have to maintain our focus, and make sure that we try to play the right way. I think tonight was a good example of a good-spirited win, we played some good stuff. We had, what, twenty shots, eight on target? All that stuff is good stats, good momentum for a tough run coming up.”

On Joevin Jones’ late exit from the match
“He had a slight groin tightness and issue. We asked him and he said, ‘yeah, I need to come off.’ We’ll see how he is, and he could be doubtful for the weekend. But yes, it wasn’t tactical.”

Gilberto, Chicago Fire Forward

Thoughts on the game
“Soccer is all about having fun. There’s a professionalism but if the team is not having fun, then it’s not worth it. The team was having fun, I was having fun, so the performance was great.”

On how this performance helps as the team searches for the first road win
“The biggest thing, this is definitely going to be a hard game against Orlando. We have two games to think about it but like I said, the biggest thing is to have fun, make sure everyone is having fun, be professional and it’s naturally going to be a big performance.”

On the transition to Chicago
“I love the city, have transitioned really well. I have long-term goals and want to stay here for many years, so I’ll do my best to make sure the team wants me here for a long time.”

 

23 August 12:04 am

Chicago Fire vs. Colorado Rapids
Toyota Park – Bridgeview, IL
Aug. 22, 2015

Frank Yallop, Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer

Thoughts on the match
“I think obviously not a good result but performance wise I can’t fault our guys for the effort put in tonight. We just couldn’t get the goal we probably deserved but giving up an early goal like that is never good for any team especially our own where we are desperate to win the match so, again I thought the guys gave everything they had and they couldn’t get it done tonight.”

On what getting one point in two matches means about the side
“That we haven’t given a good result in the last two games, or last three games if you like. Yeah it is what it is; we are trying to do the right things we are trying to create chances and trying to score goals. Seems like every team that plays against us has not as many chances as we create or get and seems to score goals, so we’ve looked at it, we working on it, we talk about it the whole time. I’ve been in this game a long time and sometimes you keep trying to put your finger on it and you can’t kind of figure it out, not from a lack of trying. I thought the guys tried tonight and did the right things. You know the Philly game we came back and at least we got a point out of that game, but you know there’s a lot of a chances against us in that match and tonight we probably had two or three against us and they scored one so, not sure you know. That’s the hard part and when you’re losing, you don’t look at everything and you want to say well done guys it’s great but maybe there’s stuff missing when you are winning too. Obviously we are not winning, that’s tough.”

Colorado only had two shots on goal, on how that epitomizes the season thus far
“The percentage of chances that go in against us for shots created or on target I think it’s 40% the other team against us, and I think we are at below 20% so either our finishing is not great or the other team is creating better chances to get better strikes on goal. We’ve looked at all the goals and we missed a couple of good chances. I thought Patrick’s chance in the first half, he’s got to hit the target and score, I think Gilberto does well to get his toe on it but obviously hits the post. I think Patrick hit the post in the first half also but just didn’t go in tonight not again but when you needed it too. I think if we would’ve scored one we probably would’ve gotten another one but we got to defend the ball and give us a couple of chances that we didn’t take, and that was the story tonight.”

On Harry Shipp slotting into the spot that Shaun Maloney held for a good portion of the season
“Well Harry I think is a natural position for him really; you try to get the guys you think are going to well for you on the field in certain spots. He can play that wide left spot Harry, but pretty much his natural position is that underneath forward, you know you got to be productive in that spot, it’s never easy if your forwards are not finishing the chances or we are not creating as many chances as you want to. I just felt that playing a lot of those players a lot of minutes, ,Razvan didn’t start tonight, I felt that both looked a little jaded in the last game that they played so I wanted to play one of them right back and then Mikey Stephens I thought had a good game in Philadelphia, he deserved to play the next game and Matt Watson was fresh but I don’t think the team selection was the problem, us missing chances and obviously giving up a goal early was the problem.”

On the mood in the locker room
“I saw a few of them , they’re slowly coming in they got some duties after the game and signing stuff but they’re obviously dejected, you know again, I cannot fault them for the effort tonight at all, and that was important for all of us. You know if you can’t quite win a match, so be it. If you don’t try and you get beat then it’s not good. Tonight, at least we gave everything we had, wasn’t good enough to get the three points that we desperately needed. Again it’s difficult times, again you just got to keep going back and battling through.”

On hopes for the playoffs
“We’ve got to keep hoping for sure yeah, got too.”

On what to expect with ten games remaining in the season
“Well, I mean, you know we’ve only won 6 or so, is it 6 games? So we got to win at least 7 now, so can we do it? Yes. Is it likely but it’s going to be tough but we can’t stop believing until it’s over. Tonight was a big game for us that if we could’ve won this one it would’ve helped us and obviously not winning it. I haven’t seen all the results but I know that Philadelphia won in Montreal, so some of the results didn’t go well. Again it’s about us, we got to keep going and keep battling on through. It’s nice to see some of our guys on the field; Gilberto and I think Kennedy looked sharp tonight, but obviously we just didn’t get that goal we needed.”

Harry Shipp, Chicago Fire Midfielder

On a tough loss
“It’s tough. From everyone that was on the field, the effort was there. I think giving up the goal in the first minute obviously didn’t help, and allowed them to kind of sit and stay organized. They crowded the midfield, so they made it hard to play through the middle, but we were able to get the ball wide and get crosses in the box, which were probably our most effective plays tonight. Unfortunately, we didn’t score the goals like we wanted to. It’s tough, but we have to take the positives, we were passing the ball, we were patient. In other games this year, when we’re down, we start pressing and making a lot of unforced errors and you’re pressing too much; I think we were able to stay patient tonight but unfortunately, we weren’t able to get a goal.”

On his return to a central attacking position
“It was good to be back there. Like I said, it was hard to play against a team like that, because they crowd the middle so much, so for me, it was going side to side and getting the ball into pockets out wide. I’m trying to create overloads on both the right and left side. I’m just trying to connect and get the ball to guys in good spots; I know I’m doing well if I know guys are able to create on the outside and guys are getting the ball running towards goal and able to create shots. I can always do a better job of that, and hopefully I get even more chances to prove that.”

On giving up goals on few chances
“We can’t give up the goal, they got the one chance early, and like I said, it’s unacceptable from our part. We wanted to come out fast and press them, and we got caught high up the field, and that’s not acceptable. I thought the rest of the game, the last 89 minutes, we responded very well, we limited their chances, we kept the ball not just in our defensive half, we kept it in their defensive half, which is something we’ve been trying to work on. We got the ball wide, we got overloaded 2-on-1 on both sides, we were able to serve some pretty good balls in the box. The way that we’ve played this year, we don’t necessarily deserve to have any luck, but tonight, there were some times I thought we were a little bit unlucky.”

Patrick Nyarko, Chicago Fire Midfielder

On the performance of the team
“I think, in general, play has gotten better, but we haven’t gotten the results to go with it. We’re still confident, we need to win a couple games in a row, and then that’s not out of reach. We can do that with how we’ve started to play in the last few weeks, but we just have to do it. Games are running out, and we keep saying we have a chance and stuff like that, but we have to keep doing it. Tonight, I thought we played excellent, we just got unlucky on defense, we created a few chances, but it’s got to be done…that’s where we need to take advantage of the chances we create. I thought the general performance was great, we were patient, we gave up a really early goal and that kind of settled us a little bit, but we got into the game and created a ton of chances. We have to make them count, but we also need to guard ourselves so we don’t go down that early. But I thought the guys did good today besides the results, obviously, but at this point, the results are critical and we need to pick ourselves up and come back Wednesday and start a run.”

 

20 August 5:19 pm

Collin Fernandez

Fire fans will have two opportunities to meet members of the Chicago Fire on Friday, August 21. See complete details below:

Friday, Aug. 21: Collin Fernandez
AT&T Retail Location
4413 E New York St.
Aurora, IL 60504
6-7:30 p.m.
Beginning at 6 p.m., Collin will be signing autographs and giving away a select number of tickets to upcoming Chicago Fire home matches

Friday, Aug. 21: Eric Gehrig
Jewel-Osco
5320 S. Pulaski Road
Chicago, IL 60632
1-2:30 p.m.

16 August 10:39 pm

CHICAGO FIRE HEAD COACH FRANK YALLOP

General thoughts on the game:
“It was certainly an open game. There were a lot of chances for both teams but mainly Philadelphia had some good looks at goal. I thought Sean Johnson was outstanding tonight, but I liked our response. We go up and go down in the game, equalize, go down again and then get another equalizer. [It was a topsy-turvy game, but] We got a point out of it. I thought we were going to go on and actually get the next goal [when the game was 2-2] but, it wasn’t to be and Philadelphia kept pushing and had their chances, but again, we’ll take the point.”

On Kennedy Igboananike’s performance:
“I thought he played very well tonight. His all-around game was good and sharp. [He made] dangerous runs into the box, had two good finishes, played a great ball in for Patrick Nyarko to score, so he had a good night.”

On their mentality and if he saw some fight in the team:
“I thought we played well for a half an hour, and then we’re 2-1 down at halftime so that’s tough. We got back into it and go down again, so I was pleased with the response once Philly did score their goals, but we have to defend better than we did tonight. I thought they gave us chances and looks. We scored three goals and they scored three so, again, I think for the neutral they would have enjoyed watching that game, but as a coach I wasn’t happy with the chances we gave up.”

On how getting this result can help them going forward:
“Well three points are vital at this point in the season, but you take what you get and I think to be honest, I think that a point was good for us to get with the chances that Philadelphia had. It’s a tough place to come after a disappointing game Wednesday night. That was very tough and our guys dug deep and got something out of the match in the end. Now we have two home games in-a-row, and we need to try to get maximum points out of them and go from there.”

On Sean Johnson’s performance:
“Sean’s a good goalkeeper, and when the ball is there to be saved he can make the saves so it’s not surprising when he makes those saves. He saved us on a number of occasions. I think some of the ricochets that went straight to the Philadelphia players were a little fortunate, but that’s football and he was there to make the save and did a good job.”

 

CHICAGO FIRE GOALKEEPER SEAN JOHNSON

General thoughts on the game:
“I thought it was a pretty crazy game considering we went one up, went down 2-1, came back and tied 2-2, went down 3-2, [and then] came back and tied it. There were plenty of lead changes, a lot of exciting stuff for fans, but for us I think it’s something to build on coming off a loss, playing in a tough place. I think on the night there were obviously things we could have done better, but I think as a team, just the resiliency that we showed through the 90 minutes was the most important thing and the never say die attitude, never giving up on the plays and we’re able to come away with a point tonight.”

On the attacking prowess of the team tonight:
“That was big time from Kennedy [Igboananike]. He did a fantastic job of putting the ball on frame, and had an unbelievable finish to tie the game to bring us back at 3-3. I’m happy for him. I think the confidence that that pumps into those guys, especially going forward in this last stretch, we really need to press. We have two home games coming up that are big for us and we’ll need those guys to step up. And not just them, but across the pitch. Everybody has another gear, including myself, and we can really push ourselves to get to that point and really make these last 11 games meaningful for our club.”

On significance of upcoming home games:
“Games at home are extremely important. I think you look across the league in past years and teams that have been successful at home give themselves the best opportunity to go on and make a run into the playoffs and ultimately win championships. I think protecting your home turf is the most important thing in this league. For us, we haven’t had the results that we wanted. We’ve won a few games at home, but not enough on the year so this is a big opportunity for us to go home and play in front of our fans and come out with a revitalized attitude towards the last little bit of our season here and I think we can do something special if we all commit to it.”

CHICAGO FIRE FORWARD KENNEDY IGBOANANIKE

On what the result means to the club:
“I think this result means a lot for us. It’s difficult to get results in away games. We haven’t been winning [on the road] for a long time, so I think this is a great result for us. We did our best, we did everything, just a couple of mistakes.”

On his performance:
“I I feel very great. Getting the [two goals] felt great. I know that Patrick Nyarko is a very good player and he’s going to bring it to the box, so on my first goal I just wanted to be in the right spot and get the right touch. The last goal was very important and I was fortunate to again be in a good spot after Mike [Magee] passed the ball.”

On the fight the team showed:
“Like we said [before the game], it is very difficult to be at the bottom of the table. We have been doing our best, but since things are not working well, we just have to believe, keep our head up, keep fighting. Heads up everybody. It doesn’t matter if we are down with goals, we just have to keep fighting until we get what we wanted. I think we have a lot of energy today. We didn’t give up, so that is a good spirit.”

On what the home games mean in the quest for the playoffs:
“It means a lot for us. I think what we do is we have to take one step at a time, because we still have chances to make it to the playoffs. If we get a win next weekend, I think we are going to be more confident again to win the other one, so that is what I can say for now.”

 

29 July 4:32 pm

Premier League giant Manchester United made a swing through the Windy City this week for its Wednesday night match against Paris-Saint Germain in the 2015 International Champions Cup. In conjunction with the visit, Manchester United Soccer Schools hosted a clinic Wednesday morning for Special Olympics Chicago at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch on the city's North Side. Participants in the clinic, which was sponsored by Aon, received coaching from former Manchester United greats Dwight Yorke and Quinton Fortune as well as coaches from the Man United Soccer Schools.

Check out a few images from the event in the photo gallery above.

25 July 11:09 pm

MLS Regular Season
Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution
Toyota Park – Bridgeview, IL

Frank Yallop, Chicago Fire Head Coach

Thoughts on the match
“Obviously, a disappointment to end the game, we looked a bit laggy and not sharp first half. Maybe, it was because of our game Wednesday, I would think so, I haven’t talked to the players but I would think Wednesday took a bit out of us. But we hung in there and got the goal at the end of the half and I thought we in the end we didn’t play particularly well but we got the goal and then gave it straight back to them was just so disappointing. Huge error at the back, for the guys as a group we got back into the game and then we go on and score a, I thought was going to be the winning goal.  I didn’t really feel they created a ton of good chances, nice possession and they had four shots on goal something like that and got two goals. The last goal is not good, I just saw it again, Adi’s got to clear it and he just lets it go, I don’t know what to say after that. You know, it just cost us the game.”

On looking to trade the rights for Didier Drogba to Montreal
“I have no updated on that, I just finished the game. I haven’t spoken to anybody before the game. There is no real update until there is one. I have not spoken to anybody, you know, I just finished the game. There might be an update tomorrow; right now there is nothing there.”

On Matthew Watson’s performance
“I’d probably say first half nobody really well but I thought Matty drove on second half and did a nice job, I think he played very well midweek as well in the Orlando game in the Open Cup. He did well tonight in the end. It was a tough game and I think we had an emotional night Wednesday and I am not making excuses but we just looked a little flat and I wouldn’t use the word tired because we shouldn’t be tired, we should be on our toes from the start but we just looked a little flat from Wednesday. Again we did enough to get back in the game, we were winning 2-1 in the 75th minute at home and didn’t feel the opposition was looking and they were dangerous at times but so were we. Just disappointed.”

On Razvan’s play driving the team back from a 1-0 deficit
“Raz has been playing great. Again, it is so disappointing you can see the soft goal and it so easy to clear it. I don’t know why Aid didn’t clear it; maybe he didn’t get a shout. It seemed like he got a shout from somebody, obviously I haven’t asked him so I don’t know. He’s just got to clear that and play on for not playing particularly well. A lot of teams find a way to win that don’t play particularly well, especially in our league. In many games like that, we play against teams that beat us and I don’t think they played very well and they win. So we should have been that tonight.”

On preparing for FC Dallas
“I haven’t thought about it right now, but obviously we will scout them going into the start of the week. They are a good side. We played Seattle and did okay against them, so hopefully we can do the same against Dallas. The thing for me is we got to let this go and get three points next Sunday. You know it was there for us and it was disappointing we didn’t get three points, which would have helped us and we would have a good week then, semifinal in the Cup and three points at home in the league. Things are looking more up, we dropped two points tonight and we’ve got to try to get three next weekend.”

Shaun Maloney, Chicago Fire Midfielder

Thoughts on the match
“I think overall a draw was probably fair, I think New England was a pretty good side tonight. Think once we got into the position at 2-1, to lose a goal so quickly hurt. I think overall was pretty good, but obviously getting to 2-1 and not holding on for long enough.”

On lacking energy due to the midweek game
“No I don’t think so. I think you have to give a little bit of credit to New England, and the way they played from the start. Their wide players tucked in and outnumbered us in the middle of the field, and we were fortunate probably to go in 1-0 to score late on. They played well and we showed up to match them at times, but I think losing the goal so quickly after scoring I think that’s the disappointing part from the team’s point of view.

On if the Drogba situation is a distraction
“Absolutely none. We’ve all been a part of clubs we’re there has been speculation of players leaving and going and that’s not something that has a detrimental effect on the team.”

On how he feels after coming back from injury
“Yeah, better again from the last game. I’m pretty happy with how I was feeling. So, a step up from last game.”

On taking the positives from going unbeaten in two games
“It’s difficult to look at it like that at the moment. I think Orlando was definitely a positive and there were patches today that were positive, but we’re right into the middle of the season and obviously its points that we need. Now that everyone is healthy I don’t think there’s any excuse for us not to pick up points, particularly at home.”

On now having eight days to recover after a congested stretch
“For some players, like Harry who has obviously played a lot of games and the players that have been pretty much relentless are looking forward to a bit of a break, but for the rest of us just coming back its more time to train and look forward to next week.”

On if the team is still in the playoff chase
“I think so. I haven’t seen the results from tonight. Yeah, I think we’ve been on losing streaks, we’ve been on winning streaks earlier in the season. I had to say Orlando was a positive and obviously doesn’t feel like that tonight. I think the talking has to stop we have to start doing it now.” 

Razvan Cocis, Chicago Fire Midfielder

Thoughts on the match
“This is the way we’re doing till now cause we’re winning then we’re losing. I can remember Orlando we’re winning 2-1 and New York leading 2-0 and come out 2-2. So there are some points we lost where we’d be better in the table.“

On re-watching New England’s equalizing goal
“No, I haven’t seen it yet.”

On his goal
“I think it was off a corner kick and we just keep putting it in the box. Matt had a shot deflected and I was just in the right spot and put it in. It wasn’t too easy to put in because it was high, but I managed to put my heel up and put it in.”

On preparing for FC Dallas next week 
“I think we prepare the way we prepare for every game. The coaches will analyze everything and tell us everything, what we have to do. We’re going to practice what we have to do. We’re doing a good job until now, it’s just we sometimes lose our concentration and give up some points.”

On wearing the captain’s armband
“Oh yeah, it wasn’t expected the first time I received it, I’m not so old in the team only being here one year, but I’m happy and honored to be the captain, but it is just until Jeff is coming back and Mike is coming back. So it is just for the moment.”

 

22 July 11:23 pm

Frank Yallop, Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Scocer

Thoughts on the match
“I’m smiling, that is my opening statement. It was good to win.”

On the importance of the win
“Massive, I think I have said long enough to guys on the field that we are pretty good. I think that showed tonight, we had the difference makers out there. Obviously, Kennedy with his two goals, when he gets the service he can finish. David has world class sprinting speed along with great skills and was electric out there. I thought Shaun was excellent in the game too. He and David have not played much but Shaun wasn’t playing for five weeks, and to put that performance in, wonderful. I will say they are the three but the whole team was excellent tonight. I was really proud with the way we played and we kind of got guys out of position, Polster and people like that. I thought we thoroughly deserved to win the game, for sure. That was very pleasing.”

On how a performance such as tonight helps Kennedy gain momentum
“Yeah, I think any time you have a chance to get on the score sheet as a striker, that is the most important thing you are there for. You can play brilliant football and keep the ball and do other things but you are there to score. You are the focal point of the team and you are the striker, we need you to score goals. It was obviously a great finish off the post from David’s run and shouldn’t miss it but when confidence is not high you might do so. Good finish on the first run and the second one is a typical Kennedy goal, where he can do that and he can break away and finish things off. So that is very happy for him a good kid and he is trying hard and has not quite gone the way everyone has expected and wanted. But you scored four goals for us but I don’t know how many starts and any competition, that is still a MLS team we played there. I was very happy for him.”

On if he had spoken to Didier Drogba in recent days
“We will expect an answer in the next 48 hours, that is basically it and we can go over everything we talked about already, we are just waiting for a decision from their side and which way he wants to go. He has choices; he feels like we have put a good pitch in and is very happy with what we have done. But again it is up to the person to choose and we will see.”

On if having Matt Polster as a right back is a permanent move or a temporary fix
“I think Matt is the type of player who has been around the game for a long time and I think Matt is the sort of player who can play anywhere. Maybe not striker, but I think you could play him in a lot of positions and he will find a way to get it done. He is very athletic and he has good clean feet, he listens to the coaches and wants to learn any position he is in. I think that was a good position for him because he likes to get forward and he’s got pretty strong crossing and finishing when he gets the chance to get in there and he is very fit. That position needs it and I think it was good to have Joevin Jones back tonight as well. It was nice to have him back but he looked a little tired, but good to have him back with us and we can sort of start to build the team going into the second half of the season.”

On the play of Matthew Watson, whose performance flew under the radar
“Matt, I have been up and down with Matt and we go way back. Matt will give you everything he’s got if he is comfortable and knows his role and I think his role was that. He loves chasing the ball down, he likes to be physical, when he gets it, he likes to drive with it. We spoke for the game, I said, ‘just play your game,’ which I don’t want to give him too much information because it brings some guys down, and Matt is one of those guys. He just learns and gets on with it, he is pretty good and I thought he was great tonight. I thought he was good in Columbus but I thought he had an excellent performance. Trying to start the half off with Raz, Matty, and Shaun limited their chances. I think the first shot on goal was a goal, if I am not mistaken. They’re a good team, very proud with the way we defended and worked. They are going to have chances on their good side. I was happy with Matt, not only Matt, but the whole midfield there.”

On the decision to start Jon Busch in goal
“I wanted to play Jon, give him a game, not give him a game but play him. Jon was fine and I think he got an assist didn’t he? Not bad at all, he’s not supposed to get an assist but he did. It was good to get him a game and he did well. Sean had something wrong with his toe during the week, that wasn’t the reason I didn’t play him. But it gives him a chance to rest that and he should be fine.”

On the congested schedule around the semifinal match
“I haven’t even thought about it until it comes up, like I said to our guys. You just need to look for the next game and can’t look ahead because you will forget the game coming up. We have a game coming up this Saturday and a massive game next Sunday. Hopefully this win, although it was in the Open Cup, it was against a good contender and hope it lifts our spirits and have a great performance on the weekend and win. Lifts us all and go on a good run and make the playoffs. That is the plan to do very well in the Cup, I think we have done well to get to this stage and we have had a couple tricky ties at home, forget the opposition. If you look at the results in our league and in the Cup a lot of teams go through lower in league. We got through, big game tonight, and we got through and I thought we did well.”

On going through highs and lows this season
“Do you know why? Because certain players weren’t on the field, it is very difficult when you don’t have your team and try to explain why you aren’t very good.”

On preparing now for New England
“They will be a little fresher but I still think we will get the players’ bodies ready and their minds are fresh and strong. They want to play on the weekend obviously and I think we are looking forward to the game instead of dreading it now. We will be fine, and we’ll come in tomorrow and will get ready and pick a team for Saturday, hopefully we can perform pretty close to that and hopefully to win and that is what we are trying to do.”

 Kennedy Igboananike, Chicago Fire Forward

On how speed factored into his two goals
I’m very happy we won the game and think it was a great energy to come in and make everybody happy.”

On his first goal, the game winner
”I didn’t even know if the ball was going to come, I just had to follow the rebound and keep believing that it would come to me. As soon as I saw it, I just had to put it in.”

On playing with David Accam again
“He’s like a brother to me. Everyone is like family here so for me, it doesn’t matter. We just have been a little bit unfortunate to not win games but I think we just have to keep going and keep believing that we can do it so that’s most important for now.”

On the up and down season and if this helps his confidence
“Absolutely. For me, the first season is always like this. You need to get things around you and know everything about yourself and the team. It’s been unfortunate for the team, things haven’t been going good for us but we just have to keep our head up because we’re professionals.”

If this performance will help him fight for a starting spot
“For me, absolutely. I have no strikes and the coach decides who to play. Everybody is a good player, so whenever you get the opportunity to play you just have to be ready to jump in and make a difference. I think everybody is ready to play.”

 

20 July 4:13 pm

Game to game, week to week, the list of available players for the Chicago Fire this season has been in flux.

It seems when one player restores match fitness, another is sidelined with a knock. Fire head coach Frank Yallop on Monday was the first to point to “not getting the job done” as a primary reason for the club's 5-11-3 record to date, but inconsistency in the lineup certainly hasn't helped. So, where do they stand with a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal and home date with New England looming? 

For starters, Mike Magee took a knock to the knee during Chicago’s 1-0 midweek loss to Crew SC and, after staying behind on the weekend trip to Columbus, did not train Monday. Yallop hopes the 2013 MLS MVP, recently returned from his lengthy rehab, could return by the weekend.

New acquisition Ty Harden has suffered multiple setbacks in his recovery from a lingering hamstring injury. On Friday, Yallop noted 7-10 days as a possible timetable for his return, leaving him questionable for Saturday’s match against New England.

But aside from that tandem, the news gradually becomes more positive. David Accam made a triumphant return Sunday from his hamstring injury and provided Chicago's lone goal at Columbus. He was subbed out alongside Patrick Nyarko with 20 minutes to go, a move centered on preventing any further injury.

“I felt Patrick and David did very well, considering where they’ve been physically in the last while,” Yallop said Monday via teleconference. “It would’ve been nice to have kept them on the field, but you have to protect players from themselves.”

Another key playmaker, Shaun Maloney, trained fully on Monday. Yallop said he “should be available to be on the bench” Wednesday against Orlando City SC. He last played in Chicago’s 1-0 U.S. Open Cup win over Louisville City FC on June 16 but has not seen league action since May 30, prior to departing for international duty. 

The captain isn’t far away either. Jeff Larentowicz, who hasn’t played since June 24 because of a herniated disc in his neck, trained with fitness coach Adrian Lamb on Monday. A Saturday return appears to be possible, if not likely.

"He could be OK for the weekend,” Yallop said. “He’s not going to be fit, because he’s not done anything for three weeks or four weeks. He’s been sitting in his living room watching TV, I think, because he had to keep it pretty steady and stable and not do anything on the disc. It doesn’t help fitness, but Jeff’s a fit kid that wants to play, and I’m sure he’ll be pushing to be available – if not this Saturday, for sure the following [Sunday] he’ll be available for.”

As for absences not related to injury, Joevin Jones returns to Chicago on Monday after Trinidad and Tobago’s penalty shootout loss to Panama in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals. And Lovel Palmer, who was excluded from Sunday’s 18-man roster, is simply regaining his fitness.

“I had a good chat with Lovel, and we both agreed that he should just get the fitness levels up,” Yallop said. “He’s been working very hard at that in the last couple days. He should be ready and good to go in the next little bit.”

With opportunities to shore up depth and performance, Yallop continues to be in talks with potential transfer window additions. He did not acknowledge names but stated that the two priorities are center forward and center back.

As much as he'd like to expedite that process, Yallop understands the difficulty of putting deadlines on players, as it could make them feel pressured and uncomfortable. But on the other hand, he's looking to avoid a situation in which a courtship drags on too long, whether or not it comes to fruition. The transfer window closes August 8, but Yallop would like to have moves made before then, if possible.

“We want to get a decision,” he said. “As I sit here now, one of those players that we’re interested in could sign somewhere else, because time’s ticking, right? That’s always the hard part.”

 

—Luke Srodulski

 

19 July 7:58 pm

CHICAGO FIRE HEAD COACH FRANK YALLOP

On tonight’s performance
"Well, obviously, result-wise – not very good, but I thought we played pretty well. Up until the phantom red card, I don’t see it. I thought it was a penalty kick."

On what Chicago is looking to improve upon going into next week’s match against New England
"Results. It’s hard enough coming here to get a result, let alone not getting any help at all from certain individuals. It’s very tough. I thought that the calls didn’t go our way tonight, that’s for sure."

On Chicago’s level of play in the first half
"I thought the game was an even game up until the red card, and then it’s very tough, which I didn’t think it was a red card. It’s tough to lose, but I thought it was a poor game from us call-wise and in the end it costs you."

On injured players returning for Chicago
"Well we’re starting to get guys healthy now. [Chicago Fire midfielder] Shaun Maloney is back in, he should be playing. I thought David [Accam] played well today. We had to take him off because he only played 20 minutes the other night, and to play him 90 minutes right now and expect him to play Wednesday will be tough. The fact that we’re slowly getting guys back, we’re looking more like ourselves. Defensively, I thought we didn’t do a good job tonight, but it is what it is. Columbus were decent in their attacking stuff, but I thought we created enough chances to at least tie the game."

            WATCH: Match Highlights

CHICAGO FIRE FORWARD DAVID ACCAM

On his return from injury
"I felt good. I was happy to be on the pitch. Even though I didn’t feel 100 percent, I was happy with my movement, everything was good. I was happy to be on the pitch playing."

On tonight’s match
"I think we gifted them two easy goals, but for me, the performance from everyone [was good]. Everyone worked really hard. On another day, we might get a good result because we worked so hard, even though we gave them two easy goals. I’m really proud of the team because they did really well."

On if Chicago can bounce back in its next League match against New England
"Yeah, for sure. We play at home and will go all out for the three points, so yeah, we can get three points as the outcome against New England."

CHICAGO FIRE MIDFIELDER COLLIN FERNANDEZ

On making his Chicago Fire debut
"The feelings are unexplainable, it was a tremendous feeling. I couldn’t have imagined it. I have been dreaming about [making his debut] ever since I was a little kid playing for the Fire, but I am happy to have made my debut for the Chicago Fire tonight. Tough result, but we are going to bounce back on Wednesday in the Open Cup."

On tonight’s match
"I thought the team worked well, I thought there were a couple of errors defensively. We need to work on it, we need to pick it up. The refs didn’t treat us to well in the game, but we can’t blame them [for the loss]. We just got to keep working hard and looking forward to the next game."

On if Chicago can bounce back in its next League match against New England
"I think so. I think the team is really looking forward to it. Our first focus is the Open Cup and [the New England match] is our second focus. We will be ready to go."