MLS Regular Season
Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop
On general feeling of the team heading into the World Cup break
“Points-wise, not great. Spirit-wise, I thought tonight was good. Difficult circumstances with the red card and all the stuff that went on tonight. What I liked about the team tonight: we fought, and we stuck up for each other. That's the positive out of it. The negative: we didn't get a result at home, obviously. Frustration is probably the word I would say right now.”
On if he had saw the reason for Obafemi Martins' sending-off
“No, I didn't, I haven't looked at a replay. I haven't seen it yet.”
On expecting officiating controversies
“I don't know. I thought both teams came out to try and win the game, which is important. Some decisions for us didn't go the right way, and you get frustrated with all that stuff; it spills over to your play a little bit. I'm not going to fault the effort of our players at all; we're not quite able to figure it out yet. We have good moments; we have patterns of play that are good, we look like we're a good side, and then we falter and get punished. It's frustrating. I hate to use the word, I keep saying it, but the balance is not quite there yet. No excuses with the three games in the week, but it's never easy. But I thought we kept going until the end; we could have gotten something out of the game. Obviously that third goal killed the game a little bit. Quincy [Amarikwa] had a great chance I think at 2-1, and then Juan [Luis Anangono] had a good chance at 3-2. That's football. That's the tough part about it. And I'm sitting there just frustrated, and you guys are fans of us, as frustrated as you are; I'm sitting there going, ‘why can't we get it sorted out?’ But signs are good, young guys are doing okay. Harry [Shipp] did good tonight, so hopefully we can turn the corner.”
On creating chances and goals in play
“We created some good chances. If you look at the experience on their team, it's a pretty experienced team; and we're a little bit younger and naive, and all the guys we have out...there's no excuses. But I'm not going to fault my guys; I thought they fought right to the end, tried to get something out of the game, but just couldn't quite get something out of it. I'm not going to turn to the excuse of ‘we got guys out,’ because, I thought the players that played tonight played well for us. Big, important thing is, take the punishment, if you like, and move on. You have to. We have an Open Cup game next, hopefully we can get through that round; I think there's another round of Open Cup, and then we get to get back into MLS. So we're still in the picture, which is always good; although we have to start winning games, obviously. But the progression of the team playing-wise, I thought, showed some fight tonight, which is important.”
On the penalty call and ensuing red card against Fire defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado
“Anytime you go with two feet, it alarms referees for some reason. I think that Jhon had no other opportunity to block the ball, and to go with his feet sort of showing. It didn't catch the player; give a penalty kick, but don't give a sending-off. Or give a sending-off, but no penalty kick, whatever you want to do, but I just think the double thing was just, for me, not a great decision. I haven't seen it, but it looked like Jhon was just trying to block the ball; it wasn't malicious, it was low, and it looked like he was trying to get his feet sorted out. But, again, the rules are what they are, so I can't really argue with it. But I struggled a little bit all night with the officiating. I thought it was a little bit one-way, but that's my opinion.”
On the World Cup break serving as a chance to get healthy
“You have two main guys out, Patrick Nyarko and Mike Magee are out at the moment, so you have to help them get ready for play coming in the next couple of weeks. We have the Open Cup, which is in our break. Alex is not 100%; obviously played a little bit tonight, but he's not close to what he can play like at the moment. So we have a little bit of time to get our guys healthy and hopefully start the next MLS game out with a win, because we need to start winning, obviously, to have any chance to do well this year. But I think the emergence of the young players is my focus, and I think they're doing okay. We're not wishing the season away at all; I make sure that we're ready to play each game and ready to go. I thought again, we didn't flop and buckle under in this game, which we could have done against a good side. Each game we've played, other than maybe a couple, we've been right there, right in the match, right and ready to go; but the naiveté of our team, and it's not a slight on them, it's just reality, we can't figure it out quite yet. It's frustrating as a coach, and the players are frustrated. I think that for us, it's making sure that we build on it, and make sure we get positive with it.”
Jeff Larentowicz, Chicago Fire Midfielder
On tonight’s loss:
“This may be the toughest so far. You might want to put it up there with the Real Salt Lake game, but they came at us – Seattle didn’t. They were content with their lead waiting for us, but somehow they still got the better of us which is difficult.”
On where the team goes from here heading into the break:
“We have to decide. Everyone has to go home this week and figure out if they’re content with where we are, think about if they’re content coming in after games saying, ‘Oh well, we did alright – we didn’t score or we didn’t finish that chance,’ or they can make a difference, they can make a change. I don’t know what happened around the league, but we’re at the bottom of the conference – we have to make a move and we have to stop being content with half chances and one goal losses at home.”
On the team’s effort:
“It’s not the effort, it’s not the effort. It’s critical moments in the game when players make a difference or don’t make a difference, and at the moment we’re not making that difference.
On how to make that difference:
“We can’t be content. We can’t come in and say, ‘We did alright.’ There’s no attendance award, we have to come and we have to do something.”
On the goals for the remainder of the season:
“I think the goal is always to make the playoffs. We can’t come in and say we’re going to be the MLS champs - we have to work for it, we have to fight for it. We have to fight to get into the playoffs period. Then you can move on and rewrite your goals. At the moment - sure we’ve hung with teams, sure we’ve played well against top competition, but we haven’t gotten over that hump. Like I said it’s not about sprinting harder, running faster or jumping higher, it’s not about that because we do that. It’s about the critical moments when we have to make a difference, that’s what we have to focus on.”
On the Open Cup as an opportunity to turn things around:
“Winning is contagious, I think. You catch it and you want it. We haven’t won, it’s almost like we enjoy coming in and being content with what’s going on. So, sure we win the first round and we play another game before we play a MLS game, so sure we can get the wheels moving, we can get guys healthy and can start pushing on. But you can see we’re in games. It’s not about personnel; it’s just about those little things. Against different competition in the Open Cup maybe we can sharpen those edges.”
Quincy Amarikwa, Chicago Fire Forward
On the chemistry with Harry Shipp:
“I think Harry and I are building good chemistry up-top. It’s translating on the field and it’s turning into goals. We just need to figure it out as a team now, making sure we can prevent teams from scoring multiple goals on us so we can come away with three points. Tonight we can build from it, learn from it and move on.”
Harry Shipp, Chicago Fire Forward
On play leading up to the goal, scoring and the result:
“I was trying to show up in places to find the ball, but it was hard. I was getting frustrated, I think everyone was getting frustrated, with our lack of keeping it. Right before the first goal I started feeling a little more comfortable, kind of feeling the touch, and then I hit a good shot. After that the momentum switched and I think we were back in the game. In the second half we gave up that third goal, which killed us, but I think that besides that we really kept the ball, we possessed the ball. We did things we know we can do. We had a chance to tie it up at 2-2 and to make it 3-3, but unfortunately it didn’t go in. I scored two goals, but I’m not going to be happy unless I score two more and we win 4-3. That’s the difference in this feeling and difference in New York when we won 5-4.”
On the chippy play during the game:
“I think we have to keep our focus. There was a lot of extracurricular stuff going on after every tackle, there were people complaining, but I think you just have to keep your head and focus. I think we did a good job in the second half of just moving the ball and playing simple – keeping the ball and interchanging especially through the midfield. It was hard for them to keep the ball. I think if we had done that all 90 minutes it might be a different story.”
Seattle Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid
On the match:
“You know, I thought we made the game harder than we needed to make it. Obviously we are in a good position with a two goal lead playing a man up, and then we get a man thrown out. At that point, we gave up a goal, you know, I think Shipp took both his goals really well, he finished them well, one left footed, one right footed, and they were good finishes, but they were plays we should have stopped a bit earlier. Hats off to him and his finishes, so it made the game tight. Kept it tight all the way through.”
What changed when the Fire scored, making it two to one:
“It picked up their spirit. They are obviously playing at home so they want to make a good impression in front of their fans and they want to do well. We’ve had a good run, played well, and we have a few guys that are banged up out there and so guys are just thinking of making it through. Now we have a 5 day break. Maybe they were thinking of that.”
Seattle Sounders Midfielder Marco Pappa
On the physical match:
“I am pretty happy with the group. We were good tonight. We played a strong game. Red cards and many fouls but at the end of the day we have the three points. We are pretty happy about that.”
On his return to Chicago:
“I was excited to see to see old faces, old friends, old fans. It was for sure a lot of feelings on the pitch but Chicago has been a big part of my career.”
Seattle Sounders Midfielder Lamar Neagle
On his game winning shot:
“It has been something I’ve been trying to do a little bit more, have some composure in the box, that kind of show. When it was coming down, I did want to hit it first time but it wasn’t bouncing right. I didn’t want to rush it. Got it down and then tried to curl it in the back.”
On the funny bounce it took before he struck the ball:
“I was trying not to panic. It took a long time to come down the first time, then it bounced weird, and just took it off my knee and tried to settle it as much as I could before I took a shot.”
On the Fire goalkeeper being screened:
“Yes, I think he was screened. It was definitely behind the defender so he wouldn’t have been, or he didn’t see it before it was going in. Sean Johnson is a great goalkeeper so luckily the defender was there to block his view.”
Select shots from the Fire's loss to the Sounders presented by MiAllstate.
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."
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.
- WATCH: #QuincyTime Blooper Reel
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
Select shot's from the Fire's draw with the Rapids presented by MiAllstate.
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
Frank Yallop, Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer
On what to take away from the game:
“I thought it was a scrappy game. I don’t think either team really played that well. I think we both had a lot of changes. We played Sunday. They played Sunday. We’ve got a game Wednesday and we’ve got a game Saturday. We’re both eyeing the same thing. We can’t go 90 minutes with all of our gunner guys. And that makes it a little disjointed when the teams haven’t played together and we have a few starters who are actually tired in the end of the game. I thought Colorado pushed at the end and we had a great chance with Juan [Luis Anangono] with a bit of a break too. All-in-all, really happy with the point, not pleased with the performance. Having said that, I thought the guys really fought tonight. Effort was brilliant, absolutely fantastic. We didn’t play well but you can’t always play well.”
On Colorado’s “strange” lineup and how to prepare for it:
“Well, first, finding out who some of the players are. You know I was in the west for a bit but now I’m in the east and we don’t really play the west. I knew who they were but you have to double check to see how tall they are and kind of get as much info as you can, just to see positionally because I don’t know where they’re all going to play. So it’s not easy but I have a good coaching staff and we figured it all out and we kind of got it right. Just prepare them and we said that Brown will come on, Powers will come on, their big boys, and try to win the game late. And they did that. Everything was correct that we said. Everything that we did defensively was good. We didn’t give them a goal. We could have been a lot sharper towards goal but I’ll take it right now.”
On Sean Johnson’s performance:
“He’s been good. He’s still a young goalkeeper. He’s only just turned 25. He’s played a lot of matches but he’s still a young man. He’s been very good this season. He’s kept us in games at times. Tonight was no different, so it was good.”
On Dillon Serna’s shot off the crossbar and the defensive performance:
“I saw the flag go up so I wasn’t worried. I was just worried he was going to say play on, but it hit the crossbar anyway. We tried to just play a good solid back four and usually the byproduct of that is people going offsides. I don’t know if he was offside or not but I think we did a good job of letting him get behind us. I mean, I wouldn’t say the best in the league but Deshorn Brown’s probably the best at the breakaway. So we didn’t allow him that, thank goodness. Jhon [Kennedy Hurtado] covered Bakary [Soumare] the one time and vice versa, so we did a nice job on him at the end.”
Jeff Larentowicz, Chicago Fire midfielder
On getting possession after a choppy start:
“It’s hard. They clogged the midfield. You can tell that Pablo’s got them closing the ball down very hard and trying to win the ball. I think we tried to play very narrow in the first half and they clogged it up so it was hard to keep possession. They’ll pressure hard and when they do that, it’s difficult to pass and keep possession.”
On Pablo’s direction with the team:
“It’s the mentality of the coach. The team follows the mentality of the coach. That’s the way Pablo was. He was right in the middle of the field. If you’re not out there closing people down, I’m sure he’s going to get on you. You can see they have that fire. They closed us down, and we weren’t good enough with the ball in the first half. I think in the second half, the game opened up a little more. You could tell, with the week that we’ve had, the guys got a little leggy. It was bound to happen.”
On the chemistry of the team:
“The cohesion is not there exactly. It’s a fairly new system that we started this week to try to get us more solid in the middle of the field. All in all, it’s the first shutout of the year, it’s a point on the road, and we’ll move onto the game on Saturday.”
Harry Shipp, Chicago Fire midfielder
On the mindset going into the second half:
“I think in the first half we struggled to keep the ball, especially through the middle. It was tough for Jeff [Larentowicz] to get the ball and kind of face up and play. Partly cause they were trying to clog the middle, partly cause we really didn’t try to play. I think it was trying to find those pockets underneath. I think most of the times I touched the ball, it was off a long ball that just fortunately fell to me, which isn’t ideal. It’s not how we want to play, but it’s just kind of how it was at the end of this game.”
On Colorado clogging the middle of the field:
“They did a good job doing that. I think it’s hard when for periods it was just me and Juan [Luis Anangono] up top isolated, it’s 2v6. It’s not really anyone’s fault, we’re playing at altitude, we played three days ago, the outside mids are tired in the last 20 minutes of the game, so they aren’t getting up as much. We’ll take the point, move on, and hopefully win on Saturday.”
Sean Johnson, Chicago Fire goalkeeper
On earning the first shutout of the season
“I think it was very important for us to get a shutout, especially in a tough game on the road in a tough stretch with three games. Coming off a Sunday game, it’s not easy to play and then travel, especially at altitude, so it was really important for us. I’m happy for everybody, not just the defenders in front of me but all the guys on the field that worked over 90 minutes to grind and get the result. Now we have to look to build and keep going and look forward to Seattle on Saturday and look to get another result.”
After a gutsy draw in the heat against LA Sunday, there’s no time for rest for the Fire as the team jet off to Colorado to play the Rapids on Wednesday evening (8pm CT on My50/TWCSC). Colorado come into this game on a hot streak, scoring seven goals in the past two matches. With another game on Saturday against Seattle before the World Cup break, the Fire will be looking to come back home with something.
Here are a few things to look out for from a tactical perspective.
Continuing the disciplined defensive line – not allowing the Rapids players to get in behind
In Sunday’s match against LA, the Fire backline played extremely well as a unit, with players keeping their shape and not getting pulled out of position. Importantly, the players kept a good defensive line, preventing the LA attackers from getting behind. LA tried this tactic quite often each time, they were caught offside.
With players like Dillon Powers and especially striker Deshorn Brown, Colorado look to get behind the opposition defense at every opportunity. Powers and Brown play in a similar way to Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane, with coach Pablo Mastroeni essentially giving the players a free role to operate wherever on the pitch.
With this in mind, the Fire could play a similar formation to what we saw on Sunday, with homegrown player Chris Ritter playing alongside Jeff Larentowicz in a 4-2-3-1 formation. This worked to perfection against LA, where the central midfield/defensive block of four (Soumare, Hurtado, Larentowicz and Ritter) prevented Donovan and Keane from getting much time and space on the ball to create.
Against Keane especially, the Fire players played a very physical game, constantly launching into aggressive tackles against the Irishman who was clearly irritated at this tactic. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar tactic played out on Wednesday night.
If the Fire’s defense and central midfield can put in a similar performance to the one against LA, the Rapids will find it very hard to break the Men in Red down.
Keeping tabs on Marvell Wynne -- locking up the right hand side of the Rapids attack
Over the Rapids’ last two matches, right back Marvell Wynne has had stellar performances getting forward on the right wing. For most of his career, Wynne has made a living getting forward and putting in dangerous crosses.
With Gonzalo Segares playing only after getting injections in his injured ankle, it would not surprise me if Mastroeni targets the Fire’s left and sets up to have Wynne getting forward all night. If the Fire continue to play with the two holding midfielder formation, it provides more cover for Segares.
On the left hand side of midfield, Dilly Duka put in a much improved defensive performance against LA and if he again gets the start Wednesday, I expect to see a similar effort. Another tactic is to force Wynne to defend and not allow him to get forward and support the attack.
The threat of Quincy Amarikwa getting in behind the Colorado defense can be a strong deterrent. If the Fire can also get the ball to Duka in the attack, it will also force Wynne to focus more on his defensive duties.
The Fire’s new attacking threat from the right – the Grant Ward/Lovel Palmer combo
Last weekend, Coach Yallop started young Englishman Grant Ward on the right hand side of an advanced midfield trio with Harry Shipp playing centrally and Duka on the left. Though naturally left footed, starting Ward as an inverted winger means he is free to cut into the middle onto his stronger left foot.
With Harry Shipp on the other side of the field in previous matches this season, Ward frequently moved into the middle of the field against LA, linking up with Amarikwa and co. Not only does Ward’s attacking shift to the middle create problems centrally for teams, but it opens up a lot of space on the wing for Lovel Palmer to get forward.
Yallop praised Palmer after the LA match and for good reason, the right back providing a constant threat down the outside. Just as the Rapids will be hoping Wynne can be the difference for Colorado on their right, a strong attacking performance from Palmer on Wednesday evening could be the difference for the Fire.
Prediction: Even though the Fire are banged up and facing a hot Rapids squad, the team come away with a big victory – 1-0 Fire with a goal from Quincy Amarikwa.
Stephen Piggott is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @irish_steve.
Select shots from the Fire's draw with the LA Galaxy presented by MiAllstate.
PHOTO CREDIT: Abel Arciniega | Chicago Fire
When Quincy Amarikwa earned a 67th minute penalty kick in Sunday’s 1-1 draw vs. LA Galaxy, it occurred to me that the Fire had received a lot more spot kicks in 2014 than they have in recent seasons.
Upon further review, the Fire have received six penalty kicks in 12 matches this season, averaging one every two games. It’s safe to say the Fire wouldn’t have earned as many opportunities without the ability of Amarikwa to draw so many penalties…
Have a look...
|Date/Result||Penalty Earned||Penalty Taken||Converted||Miss/Save|
|3/16/14 - 1-1 at POR||Quincy Amarikwa||Jeff Larentowicz||X|
|4/5/14 - 2-2 vs. PHI||Juan Luis Anangono||Mike Magee||X|
|4/19/14 - 1-1 vs. NE||Victor Pineda||Juan Luis Anangono||X|
|5/18/14 - 2-1 vs. SKC||Quincy Amarikwa||Mike Magee||X|
|5/18/14 - 2-1 vs. SKC||Benji Joya||Mike Magee||X|
|6/1/14 - 1-1 vs. LA||Quincy Amarikwa||Jeff Larentowicz||X|
While the table serves as a reminder that the Fire probably would be further up the table if not for a few penalty saves in April, let me also point out that the rate of penalties so far this year is a club record to this point in any of the team’s 17 seasons of existence. In fact, there are only five other seasons in which the club has earned six or more spot kicks the entire year.
|Season||Overall Conversion Rate||Conversion Through 12 Games|
The penalty earned by Amarikwa Sunday was his fourth since joining the Fire last season. It's a relatively small sample size, but the team has never missed a penalty that #QuincyTime has earned as Mike Magee also scored on the penalty he won last July in a 4-1 romp of D.C. United.
Amarikwa seems perfectly built to be a player that can draw dangerous opportunities for his team. Strength on and of the ball along with lightning quickness that turn what look like "meh" opportunities into beautiful chances mean defenders have their hands full whenever he's on the field.
There have been a few times where he's fallen gracefully (and been punished for it) and Sunday's penalty call *may* have occurred just outside the area but there's little doubt that something will probably happen in or around the box whenever Amarikwa is on the field.
Like in the MLS Fantasy Challenge, perhaps "Penalties Earned" should become an official statistic in Major League Soccer. Until that happens, perhaps you should take in the latest episode of #QuincyTime:
Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop
On today’s performance…
“I thought we played really well today. I thought we had some great individual performances from a lot of the young guys playing, and other than one mistake, I thought we very deserved to win. Obviously very frustrating points wise, but very encouraging performance wise. I thought they gave their heart for this club and the team today and tried their best to get the result.”
On decision to start Chris Ritter…
“I think Chris has done well in the games he’s had with the reserves, trains well. With a few bumps and scrapes that we do have, I thought our forward play has been good. I thought today, other than the chance that they got and they scored on, we kept them pretty quiet. A very good team that’s good at going forward. The stability of Chris next to Jeff, it really wasn’t a defensive move. It was more making that box that Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane love to operate in. I think that Chris, Jeff, Baky, and Jhon did a really good job making it difficult for them to get any space and go and that’s reason that I am playing Chris. It loosened Jeff to get on the ball and we had some good solid possession and solid attacks.”
On the original back four together after a couple months…
“I thought they did well. Gonzo’s not really training much. He got an injection before the match, he has to get his ankle cleaned out, but I think he has done well for what he’s done. Baky and Jhon were strong, and played with authority today. Lovel wasn’t our best player but pretty close. I thought he had a great game. Once they start to play together again, and it’s been up and down and injuries and other things come into it, but I was very happy with the chances we didn’t give to L.A.”
On the health of the team…
“I think we are okay. Lovel has just a bit of tight hamstring. Quincy has been feeling a little bit fatigued. With the game on Wednesday I thought ‘take him out.’ We were one up at the time. I think we are okay. I haven’t check with Bo [Leonard] yet, but I think we should be okay.”
On changing to a more defensive formation in a 4-2-3-1…
“The balance has not quite been right and I think the balance was good today. I think we created enough chances to win the game, but we limited them to not many good looks. Whether it’s Chris or the system we played, I liked it. Logan probably would have played in there had he been healthy, but I was very happy with Chris’ performance. I was very happy with the whole demeanor we had and the way we went about it. I thought we played high up the field, which is important. I thought we created some good turnovers, our penalty comes from a turnover, but it was good play by us.”
On Landon’s performance today…
“He scored so…that’s Landon. I actually texted him when he broke the record and I was there for his first goal in the MLS and I just saw it again today, but Landon is a good player. I think you saw his quality on the finish, and any time we can keep him under wraps, and Robbie Keane, two very good players. Our team did a nice job of that, we didn’t give them some good looks, which usually they have.”
On Duka and Ward out wide…
“I think both guys did well. Dilly’s been kind of injured all year and he played in the Columbus game and wasn’t effective. He never got himself going. I talked to him this week and said ‘you got that game under your belt; that was the game to get your legs moving, now we got to start to play.’ I thought he did well, a couple of shots, but he is going to tire. He hasn’t played much, but I liked the fact that they are attacking players, both of them, with Harry and Quincy it’s four good attacking options we have and the supply was good from Chris and Jeff. I though Grant Ward played well today. He is a good player, a young kid. It’s a shame we’ve not had him and just got him now. We got to make a decision pretty soon so we will see how that goes.”
Chicago Fire Forward Quincy Amarikwa
On battling in the heat against the Galaxy
“That’s what it was, it was a battle. It’s hot, you could tell; a little bit different than what we’ve been playing in recently. As a team, we battled, we fought hard; unfortunately one mistake got the best of us. But we’ll bounce back and hopefully get a win on the road in Denver.”
On the team adapting to multiple injuries
“I mean, a couple of guys have come down with injuries, so we’ve had to adapt. I think the guys that were called upon today did really well to fit into the system and really show themselves, and show that we have depth all the way to our 18th man and beyond. I think the guys showed well, and it’s going to carry on through rest of the season.”
On how upcoming week will test depth
“Yeah, definitely, any time you have three games in eight days, your depth is going to be tested. I think we rose to the occasion today; it only builds confidence for the rest of the week.”
On combating fatigue after Columbus game
“I feel pretty good. For that reason, I came off a bit early, I think in the 60th minute. Just looking to save my legs a little bit, especially since we’re going to altitude on Wednesday. I think the guys that stepped on did really well. Again, it’s unfortunate to concede that goal; but overall, I think that’s one of the better performances we’ve had, especially at home, this season.”
Chicago Fire Homegrown Midfielder Chris Ritter
On first game in MLS
“It was an exciting day for sure. Getting your first start, or even just making your debut, is certainly a special day. The game didn’t go the way we wanted it to, and I feel a bit at fault for the one goal; but definitely a learning experience, and playing more games this season could make it up.”
On the coaching staff’s advice in first game
“He kind of just told me to play my game, which is, I think, the best thing to hear from a coach. I think the whole coaching staff had all the confidence in the world in me, so it made going out there pretty easy; so I’m hopefully doing well.”
On giving up a goal and learning a tough lesson from it
“It just shows how quickly top-notch players like Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan can punish you, so definitely a lesson learned.”
On technical adjustments in the midfield prior to the game
“I think we do a good job adjusting to all the teams we play. It’s kind of a mix of adjusting and letting them adjust to you, so I thought playing with two holding midfielders was effective and held them to limited number of chances.”
On being part of the first two Homegrown players to take the field in club history
“Definitely exciting. Harry [Shipp] has done a great job this year, and I’m kind of just trying to follow in his footsteps. It’s fun to be out there with Harry, a guy I know pretty well and spend some time with off the field; so definitely a special moment.”
Chicago Fire Defender Gonzalo Segares
On first individual performance coming back from injury
“First game of the season; not completely fit yet, but it was good for me to come back. I feel that defensively, it was pretty good, but I had a few issues with the ball. Definitely not sharp yet, but you just have to keep working.”
On health of ankle after the game
“It’s okay until the medicine goes away [laughs], then it’ll start hurting. It’s something I’ve been dealing with for a long time, I think it’s around 9-10 weeks, and the bone spurs started growing after the injury that I had. But I’m just glad that we know what it is, and the injection definitely helps me be in the game and not have pain; it’s something that we eventually hope will get fixed.”
On being surprised about the starting backline meshing well
“No. I’ve worked with Baky [Soumare] for a long time, with Jhon [Kennedy Hurtado] and Lovel [Palmer] I’ve been playing with for a while; we worked a whole preseason as well, so we’re used to each other. I felt we were very satisfied with how we did defensively. It’s unfortunate that the one play, I think the only look that we gave them, they definitely took advantage of that; that’s what you get with Keane and Donovan. I think we learned from that, and we’ll just keep building up. There’s an important game against Colorado this Wednesday, and we need to go over there and get some points.”
On tying Chris Armas’ mark of 214 appearances for the Fire
“It’s definitely an honor. Chris is a guy that helped me a lot when I came into this league, he’s a Fire legend. It’s definitely an honor to have as many games as him. It’s not easy to stay at one club in MLS, and I’ve been lucky enough and fortunate to have been here for that long.”
Los Angeles Galaxy Head Coach Bruce Arena
On the match:
“Awful game today. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve told the league when it’s this hot and humid in Chicago in June, we don’t want to play afternoon games. This is not fair for the players. It’s difficult. It’s not fair for the fans. We shouldn’t be playing this game at this time. Difficult, difficult game for the players to deal with.”
On players suffering from the heat:
“Difficult conditions. You can’t play these games this early in the afternoon.”
On Robbie Rogers play:
“Rogers played very well. He did a good job for us.”
On Landon Donovan’s goal:
“Not his best day but he got a goal and he hung in there for 90 minutes so that was good. It was a lousy game today. There’s no other way to put it. I think Chicago played a little bit better than us, but the conditions were difficult for both teams and it made for a not-good game.”
On the penalty kick against LA:
“If a referee doesn’t see it, he shouldn’t call it. If he thinks he saw it, then fair enough. It may have been a foul but it was probably outside the penalty area. I don’t know how they do that without discussing it between the linesman and the referee. And if they did then they got it wrong.”
On getting a point on the road:
“[Happy] we got the point. We’ll take the point and get out of Chicago.”
On Dan Gargan’s condition:
“Just heat issues.”
Los Angeles Galaxy Captain and Forward Robbie Keane
On playing the game in hot conditions:
“I don’t know who makes these f***ing stupid decisions. Play a f***ing game at three o’clock in the afternoon. Who wants to watch that crap? Do you? I don’t want to watch that crap. These people who haven’t got a clue about soccer make these decisions when we play a game. Why not play at eight o’clock? It wasn’t on national television. It’s so stupid. They need to look at these games and use their head and be clever. No player wants to play in that humidity. Everyone was affected by the heat. Why would you want to play at three o’clock in the afternoon? On the hottest day of the year so far here in Chicago, knowing it is going to be that hot. And you can’t blame the Kings-Hawks game because you didn’t know that was going to happen until two days ago. This is absolutely ridiculous. We have to stop. We have to listen to the players instead of listening to people who have never kicked a soccer ball in their whole life.”
Los Angeles Galaxy Forward Landon Donovan:
On his goal:
“I feel great. I feel great helping the team. To get a tie on a day where we didn’t really play well and sometimes during the season you have to games where you don’t do well and you have to find a way to get something out of it. I’m glad to help out.”
On the conditions:
“That’s the way the league is at times. There are games where it is ugly. You play during the day, it’s hot, the field is slow and that kind of stuff happens. You have to have the character and the resolve to find a way to get a result and we did that today.”
On the team battling the conditions:
“It was difficult for both teams. Both teams you could tell couldn’t really get around the ball and press the ball. You couldn’t move efficiently as you wanted so again, it probably doesn’t look great from a spectator standpoint but that’s the way it goes.”
On Robbie Rogers’s assist for his goal:
“I thought he did well. Coming into the game was tough and he hasn’t played in a while so fitness wise it was going to be tough but I thought he defended pretty well. He made a few good plays and the assist was a really good ball.”
Los Angeles Midfielder Robbie Rogers
On looking confident on the field:
“I think just being able to train for three or four weeks and sustaining that kind of workload has really benefited me. I think there’s tons of things I can improve on and today I thought there were things I could have done better but I was happy to provide Landon with that assist and get a point on the road. I really think these are the kind of games that when you get three points, and I think we are a good enough team to do that, but sometimes you just kind of have to grind it out.”
On the heat affecting him:
“For me, not too much. But I could tell it affected the other guys. I only played like 60 minutes or something which is a bit different, and it was hotter in the first 20 minutes of the game and you could tell guys were tired on both teams.”
On a turning point for his comeback:
“It’s one assist in one game. It’s a lot of work that I have ahead of me this season so it’s a positive to contribute in that way and to help defensively but there’s a lot of work to be done.”
On his assist being against Chicago:
“No, it doesn’t mean anything to me. I think maybe this is my third or fourth assist I’ve had playing in Chicago when I was playing for Columbus. I’ve had some success here. I don’t know why. I’ve always enjoyed playing here and the fans are great. It’s a great city. I enjoy it.”
On his assist:
“I just kind of noticed that the guy put his head done when he was passing it to the outside midfielder and it’s a slow field, you can pick things off, so I kind of just read that and when I went to take a touch, I reached for it and I saw Robbie. I also saw Landon coming in the back post so I thought just if I could whip it into the back post he would run on to that. He had an amazing finish. It wasn’t an easy ball to finish. Those are the kind of balls a winger and an outside back has to play and we work on that kind of stuff. It’s not a routine thing but it’s kind of something you do ten, twenty times at training so it was a great finish. You have to give Landon a lot of credit.”
On the differences between the first and second halves:
“I felt like Chicago got a little tired and were playing very direct and launching balls behind us. I thought in the first half they were finding little passes here and there so it made it a little easier for us to predict. I thought we started off the beginning of the second half really well. Chicago got that goal but besides that I thought we were playing pretty well. We finished the game all right. Everyone was dead at the end of the game. We will take that point on the road.”