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Numbers Game

26 August 9:35 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

08 July 11:27 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

02 June 8:55 am

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.

See below:

Season Overall Conversion Rate Conversion Through 12 Games
2000 5/10 0/3
2003 7/9 3/4
2005 4/7 1/1
2001 4/6 2/3
2006 3/6 1/2
2014 4/6 4/6

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

11 May 5:49 am

Sometimes in the stat world you need an assist. Sometimes in the MLS stat world, you quite appropriately may need a second assist.

This came for me Saturday night when Fire Analyst Kevin Egan tweeted to ask this question following a wild 5-4 win in New York:

Perhaps knowing I was too busy bowing at the altar of a boy wunderkid, Hot Time in Old Town founder Tweed Thornton did the quick research: 

Having finished the lamb sacrifice (kidding!), I woke up this morning to do some more research of my own. Kevin and Tweed were correct, not only did we see the first-ever Fire rookie/Homegrown score a hat trick Saturday night, we also saw the quickest four-goal barrage in the club's 17 season. Wow!

Here's a list of the ones that came (sort of) close:

Date Opponent/Score Minute Span Total Minutes Goal Scorers
5/10/2014 5-4 W at RBNY 49-64 15 Amarikwa 49, Shipp 53', 58', Nyarko 64'
7/4/2001 7-0 W at KC 72-88 16 Nowak 72', 81', Stoitchkov 83', 88'
7/1/1998 4-1 W at DAL 7-36 29 Kubik 7', Razov 16', Kosecki 20', Podbrozny 36'
5/13/2000 4-1 W vs. SJ 5-40 35 Kovalenko 5', Kubik 12', og 13', Razov 40'
4/3/2008 4-0 W vs. NE 4-39 35 Barrett 4', Frankowski 22', 39', Blanco 37'
5/23/1998 5-0 W vs. COL 21-57 36 Brown 21', Razov 51', Podbrozny 55', Kosecki 57'

 

23 April 9:13 am

Frank Yallop winless in seven games, unbeaten in six as head coach of Chicago Fire

What is it going to take for Frank Yallop to get his first regular season victory as head coach of the Chicago Fire?

Following Saturday’s dramatic 1-1 tie at home to the New England Revolution, the Fire are now without a win in seven MLS games after an opening day defeat at Chivas USA and six subsequent ties as their season has yet to fully take off.

However, four of those seven games were on the road, so if the Fire can pick up all three points at home to Real Salt Lake on Saturday, May 3 after a bye week, the complexion of the season, and more importantly the table, will suddenly look a whole lot better.

Thankfully for Yallop and his coaching staff, the Chicago fan-base have shown remarkable patience and understanding as he tries to impart his philosophies and footballing ideals on to this new group of players.

Yallop came to the Fire with a proven track record in the MLS following a lengthy professional career in England and on the international stage with Canada.

His vast experience in England and early MLS successes as a coach with San Jose Earthquakes has given Yallop, who recently celebrated his 50th birthday, the confidence to remain calm despite the relatively disappointing start to the campaign.

When speaking about the team, their attitude, their effort in training and their prospects for the season, Yallop hasn’t changed in his thinking since his arrival at Toyota Park last October. If anything, he is more optimistic now than before the season began.

He sees a group of players that have shown significant signs of progress in the short time he has been with them and he believes that their first win is about to come. Yes, he believed it would come at home to the Red Bulls. Away to DC.

His confidence in himself and his team still intact, he insisted the win would come with the visit of the Union to Toyota Park. And again, a week later, there was an assured statement that the win would arrive on the road in Montreal.

Looking back, it is possible to see where and how three points may have been won in any of these games, with a little luck or a hint of good fortune. Mike Magee’s late penalty miss against Philadelphia. Late saves by the Impact’s Troy Perkins from Patrick Nyarko and Magee that would have earned the Fire their first win.

Juan Luis Anangono’s penalty miss against New England last time out was another glaring example of a missed opportunity and another occasion where the Fire should have sealed the three points their efforts over the previous 90 minutes deserved.

The reason no one has pushed the panic button just yet, is largely down to the quality of play produced each week, the vast amount of chances being created and the overall level of entertainment served up by Yallop and his attack-minded tactics.

No other team has had more shots this campaign at 101, while only the Montreal Impact have hit the target more often, 38 times to the Fire’s 35 (which they tie with the Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps and Sporting Kansas City).

They are the fourth highest scorers after seven games with 10 goals, while Quincy Amarikwa is tied for second on the goalscoring list with four.

There are significant signs of improvement since the side’s defeat at Chivas, with Yallop’s influence gaining momentum with each and every game.

Having struggled to assert themselves in the possession stakes in the opening three games, the Fire have enjoyed more of the ball than their opponents in their last three games.

This has translated itself into more goalscoring opportunities, with the Fire amassing an impressive 54 shots to their opponents’ 17 over the last three games.

Which suggests to me that they are doing well defensively, restricting other teams to an average of six shots per game, while also creating enough themselves to comfortably win games.

That has not happened thus far, but surely it is only a matter of time.

There have been several other positive features to Yallop’s tenure, most notably his willingness to give youth a chance. Earlier in the year, he insisted that he would select players on merit rather than reputation, and he has stood by that assertion with the likes of Harry Shipp, Benji Joya, Greg Cochrane and Victor Pineda all getting a chance to impress.

Add to that the blossoming central defensive partnership of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Bakary Soumare, which has impressed in recent games despite the concession of 11 goals, and it is clear to see that the Fire have a solid base upon which to build.

His faith in the wing play of Nyarko and Shipp has also reaped reward with both players contributing to the fluent, incisive build-up play down both flanks that has been a feature of the Fire’s games thus far.

And with reigning MLS MVP Magee improving with every game following his early season injury problems, and his effective link up play with Amarikwa showing real signs of promise, surely that first win will come sooner rather than later.

Stats at a glance (the Fire read first):

Opponent Shots Possession % Pass Accuracy Passes
Chivas USA 7/14 44.7% / 55.3% 77% 303/369
Portland Timbers 14/21 38.5% / 61.5% 64% 243/398
New York Red Bulls 13/10 42.6% / 57.4% 72% 340/449
D.C. United 13/17 49% / 51% 72% 372 / 383
Philadelphia Union 20/7 53.2% / 46.8% 74% 349/304
Montreal Impact 17/6 56.2% / 43.8% 79% 420/333
New England Revolution 17/4 51.9% / 48.1% 76% 338/321

 

14 April 11:33 am

#QuincyTime continued to take on a life of its own on this weekend when Fire forward Quincy Amarikwa scored the 54th minute equalizer in a 1-1 draw at Montreal on Saturday.

With the goal, Amarikwa has already equaled his total for the whole of 2013 just six matches into this season and has been involved in a goal in five of those games.  Just to take it one further, Amarikwa has five goals and one assist in his last eight Fire appearances dating back to October 4 last season.

He started only five of those games.

So while the Fire are still winless in six matches (but unbeaten in five), Amarikwa seems to be the revelation early on this season. With the Fire having given up seven goals from dead ball sequences before Saturday, it was nice to see Amarikwa bury a set piece second ball for the Fire for a change.

One more look…

And for the second time this season, Quincy brought out the #cf97NaeNae to celebrate…

An MLS journeyman who's calling card has been coming off the bench, Amarikwa scored just four goals in his first 67 MLS matches but with six goals in the last year, he's already doubled his career goal total in 20 games with the Fire. As he continues to show efficiency on the field, I posed this question on Twitter Saturday…

What do you think are the reasons for Amarikwa’s turnaround with the Fire? Will he become the eighth Fire player to hit double-digit goals by year’s end? Give me your thoughts below!

07 April 9:51 am

Mike Magee will tell you he should have had at least two goals on Saturday.

Whether it was finishing on that awkward back and forth play that saw him with an open look at goal while Sheanon Williams was down in the box in the 88th minute or the game-ending penalty and rebound save from Zach MacMath at the death, the fans and he himself feel like he should have had another.

And it's not necessarily easy to point that out about Magee but thankfully, he tweeted this yesterday:

So now that that's out of the way, it's worth noting something else: Mike Magee did open his 2014 Fire account off a great feed from Quincy Amarikwa in the 16th minute Saturday. That goal was a small milestone as it pushed Magee inside the Top 15 (actually tied for 14th place) on the club's all-time goal scoring list with Lubos Kubik and Cuauhtemoc Blanco at 16 (MLS Regular Season) and 19 (All Competitions) goals respectively. 

You took a pause real quick right there and realized that the Fire have only had 16 players hit those numbers over the course of 17 years. Now you realize that the club hasn't really had a consistent goal scorer over multiple seasons since the likes of Ante Razov, Josh Wolff and Damani Ralph came through. 

There's no doubt that Magee got to those odd milestones quicker than Blanco or Kubik but he also beats Razov, Wolff and Ralph to those numbers by a considerable margin...

The tables:

MLS Regular Season Goals - Fastest to 16

Player Years GP to 16 Goals Total Fire Goals
Mike Magee 2013-present 25 GP 16
Ante Razov 1998-04 33 GP 76
Josh Wolff 1998-02 35 GP 32
Damani Ralph 2003-04 35 GP 22
Brian McBride 2008-10 42 GP 18
Dominic Oduro 2011-12 42 GP 18
Hristo Stoitchkov 2000-02 44 GP 17
Dema Kovalenko 1999-02 49 GP 22
Chris Rolfe 2005-09; 2012-14 53 GP 48
Cuauhtemoc Blanco 2007-09 58 GP 16
Lubos Kubik 1998-00 68 GP 16
Nate Jaqua 2003-06 73 GP 21
Chad Barrett 2005-08 75 GP 18
Piotr Nowak 1998-02 77 GP 26
Marco Pappa 2008-12 87 GP 26
Jesse Marsch 1998-05 183 GP 19

Fire All Competitions Goals - Fastest to 19

Players Years GP to 19 Goals All Competitions Goals
Mike Magee 2013-present 29 GP 19
Josh Wolff 1998-2002 47 GP 39
Ante Razov 1998-2004 53 GP 95
Damani Ralph 2003-04 55 GP 28
Dema Kovalenko 1999-00 56 GP 34

So while you could probably go back in Magee's short Fire tenure (he hasn't even been here a calendar year) and point to a few more opportunities that would see his goal total even higher, he's still on a record scoring clip for the Fire. 

And Mike, keep your head up after that penalty kick save. We expect to see lots more of these celebrations this season: 

22 March 12:12 pm

The vital information on your 2014 Chicago Fire ahead of Sunday's home opener vs. New York Red Bulls...

 Tickets still available for Opening Day, Sunday at 2pm CT vs. New York! Click here!

13 March 9:31 am

Quincy Amarikwa has become somewhat of a statistical phenomenon in his time with the Chicago Fire.

Throughout his six seasons in MLS, Amarikwa has collected his paycheck in a super-sub role, bringing that extra bit of energy to go at defenders when his team is looking for a goal. Amarikwa has just 14 starts in 82 MLS appearances, nearly half of which (6) came with Toronto FC in 2012.

While he could always help generate some offense, Amarikwa’s stat line wasn’t anything too special during his first four MLS seasons, tallying four goals and four assists in 67 regular season games for San Jose, Colorado and Toronto FC between 2009-2012.

Flash forward to last year the way he earned his spot with the Fire. in a preseason friendly against San Jose in Santa Barbara, Calif. Amarikwa, who joined the team at their preseason training base earlier that day, ended up coming in for the final 15 minutes of a 0-0 deadlock.

Amarikwa made the most of his short time on the field, earning  a penalty that was eventually converted by Jeff Larentowicz to give the team a 1-0 victory over the Quakes.

Those 15 minutes earned him a contract with the club and were the start of what has become dubbed as “Quincy Time”, i.e., the short amount of time Amarikwa has to work with in order to produce offense.

This bore out over the course of last season when the veteran MLS forward racked up the best goals to minutes ratio in MLS, tallying three in just 299 minutes or .90 goals per 90 minutes.

With his goal in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at Chivas USA, his scoring rate with the Fire actually increased to 1.08 per 90 minutes. Meaning in theory, statistically, Amarikwa is good for at least a goal a game.

In 332 minutes with the Fire, Amarikwa has matched the goal total he racked up playing 1958 minutes over his previous four MLS seasons.

So what’s the craziest part of all this?

He’s never started a match for the Fire, making 15 MLS appearances in just over a year. After consulting the TrueCar Player Registry, aside from newbie Benji Joya, Amarikwa is the only player in club history to score a goal without having started an MLS match.

Furthermore, Amarikwa has never even played a full half for the Men in Red – the most minutes logged in one game has been 43, which came in the 4-1 destruction of D.C. United on July 20 last season. Even though he didn’t score in that game, he did earn the penalty kick that Mike Magee converted for Fire goal number four.

He’s also scored each of his last three appearances for the Fire, dating back to a 3-0 win last October at D.C. United.

Amarikwa has surely done well enough in his short minutes with the Fire to earn more playing time and perhaps even his first start. Surely it’ll come at some point this season and when it does, his impressive goals to minutes ratio will inevitably drop.

Still, it’s hard to argue against seeing more “Quincy Time”.

WATCH: Quincy Amarikwa’s body of work for the Chicago Fire

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06 February 1:45 pm

Today’s Numbers Game features a switch as second-year Fire midfielder Dilly Duka will now wear the #11. Acquired from Columbus this time last year in exchange for Dominic Oduro, the pair took each other’s numbers when they got to their new clubs (Duka taking 8, Oduro taking 11 in Columbus).

This year, with the Crew’s #8 shirt vacant, Oduro has switched back to his regular number while Duka completes the swap. Coincidentally, #11 became available at the Fire when the team traded Daniel Paladini to Columbus back in December.

“Number 11 is what I’ve worn going back to youth soccer,” Duka said. “It’s what I’m familiar with, it’s part of me as a player.”

Meanwhile, fresh off scoring the game-winner in Sunday’s friendly vs. Florida Gulf Coast Univesity, Giuseppe Gentile becomes the first player in Fire history to wear #92.

The dual Swiss-American citizen, who also happens to speak four languages and also shares a name with an Olympic triple jumper, went the Kellen Gulley route in choosing his number according to the year he was born, 1992.

So with that, we have two trivia questions for today…

1)      Dilly Duka  becomes the eighth player in Fire history to wear the #11 shirt, name the other seven.

2)      What four languages to Giuseppe Gentile speak? We’ll give you a freebie: English.

(SCROLL DOWN FOR ANSWERS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANSWERS:

1)      Roman Kosecki (1998-1999), Diego Gutierrez (2000-2001), Billy Sleeth (2002), Nate Jaqua (2003-2006), Thiago (2007), John Thorrington (2008-2010), Daniel Paladini (2011-2013).

2)      English, Spanish, Italian and German