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02 July 10:30 pm

Select shots from the Fire's draw with Toronto FC presented by MiAllstate.

26 June 12:12 am

Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop

Opening remarks

“It’s always good to win any match, and I think that on the basis of the play we had, especially the first half, I thought we deserved to win the game. So, obviously, the red card for Parkhurst makes a difference in the match, but I still felt from that, we went on and had a good performance. To score four goals in any game – although we got an extra 30 minutes to do that – is good. Pleased for the guys. You know, the Crew made it difficult. We went up and then we go down. But we came back into it, good substitutions by the staff, if I do say so myself, to bring Juan on.  But Juan’s been waiting for a chance, and I was very happy for him to get two goals tonight.”

On Juan Luis Anangono’s performance

“If you look at Juan’s production, especially maybe earlier when he’s played a little more minutes…I forget the game we had at home, he got brought down for the penalty kick. He scored a goal in one of the games. He missed the PK. He could’ve scored that one. So, what I will say about Juan is he’s a terrific professional. He’s been right with the team all along, with not getting many minutes because of Quincy’s play I feel like. But what I like about him is the way he goes about it. He tries very hard for the team. And I’m very, very happy for him to get the two goals tonight.”

On Mike Magee’s status

“He got clocked in the ankle when I think it was Kevan George caught him with the challenge. So we’ll see how he is, but I’m not sure right now.”

On what changed in the second half

“I said to our guys at halftime ‘they’re going to make changes’ because I thought we outplayed them completely the first half. So I said, ‘Expect to see changes.’ And I think that the goal from Anor, he made a difference. They were more forceful. They tried to quickly counter attack on us. And to be honest, they did a good job. And I think that until we kind of figured it out towards the end of the game, we were in a bit of trouble. So again, we’ve got to be better at doing a 90-minute game and making sure that we see it through and do our thing. But what I will say is that the fighting spirit in the guys to come back again and to go on and win the game is great. It’d just be nice to put a good performance of 2 or 3 to nil at some point. It’d be nice, but we’re not there yet. We’re trying hard. And I can’t fault the guys for effort at all. They’ve been great.”

On making adjustments throughout the game

“We were down in the game, so we have to push it. Bringing on Alex is a bit more attacking minded than putting Logan in his role. Juan’s a forward, he wants to score goals. Bringing him on obviously is key. I just wanted to bring on a fresh defender with Jhon. I felt that Columbus was getting into the game with the quick breaks. I wanted to make sure that we shored that up a little bit. You know, I was pleased with the subs that came on. They did a nice job. And I think the whole team responded when we did that.”

Chicago Fire forward Juan Luis Anangono

On the opportunity to come into the game and be a hero

“The team worked hard to get all the goals and I’m personally happy to have scored the two goals. I think the whole team are heroes. The whole team worked hard. This is a team, we’re 11 players and seven subs and other players that are all helping the team. This is a team, there isn’t one hero. If there’s a hero, it’s the team. We all have the characteristics and we’re all ready to play. Who plays and who doesn’t is the decision of the coach. I think the coach does what is best for the team, thinking of who will help the team. I believe we’re all good players and we all need to be ready to help at whatever moment.”

Chicago Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz

On using the Open Cup games to help turn things around over the break

“It’s just about the will to win, and taking care of the things we should. I think that having two home games in the Open Cup is a good opportunity for us to get into a rhythm. We’ve had some injuries and we’ve gotten some guys back. Right now we’re just finding a way to win and build on that heading back into the regular season.”

 On how this will help going back to MLS play next week

“The guys that are playing in these games are probably the guys that will be playing once the regular season starts up again, so I think it’s about everyone developing a rhythm and understanding each other.  If we can create goals we can start to see patterns of play we like to do and hopefully we can carry those in the regular season again.”

On training during the break

“I think over the past couple of weeks it’s just been about getting bodies back.  For a while there we were pretty thin, and now it’s about getting everyone back, veteran guys, healthy and training hard again because we have trained well the last couple of weeks and I think it’s showing in games. 

Chicago Fire forward Quincy Amarikwa

On coming back in the second half to get the result

“We just battled. Unfortunately, we let them score two unanswered [goals].  After we came in at halftime, we said we wanted to come out on front foot, but we dug in. Juan [Luis Anangono] came off the bench and really made an impact on the game, he helped us tie it up and the rest is history.”

On Columbus’ play in the second half:

“When you’re the team on the road and down a goal at halftime, you don’t have anything to lose.  So, you kind of throw everything but the kitchen sink at the home team, and that second goal kind of just fell their way.  I don’t think there’s any kind of defensive error from thinking about it.  I’d have to go back and look at the tape, he just happened to be at the right place at the right time and took advantage of it and they capitalized.”

Columbus Crew Head Coach Gregg Berhalter

On the match:

“I thought it was a good game.  We put a different system into play and the guys knew about it at the last moment.  We wanted to try something.  We got a lot out of that exercise.  I’m proud of the way they adapted to the system, and proud of the way they played the game.  Specifically, the second half, where I thought we were extremely dominant.”

On rallying his team at half time:

“We weren’t confident in our movement in terms of how we were executing what we designed.  The message was positive.  All things considered, it’s a good job.  Now here’s what we can do to make it even better.  The guys did that, especially in the second half.  They played really well.”

On Arrieta’s goal:

“It was a great goal.  Great move.  Good finish.  It was good.  We need Jairo to score those goals.  He had some other chances as well and we want him to be dangerous.”

On the team’s defensive 5-man posture tonight:

“It was good.  We honestly gave them this today.  So having said that, I think they did a great job.  It was something where we felt we wanted to take a look at.  We thought we could expose some things of theirs and take advantage of an organized back line.”

On Chicago’s equalizer late in the second half:

“If I take anything from the game, I’m most disappointed with that.  I think that when you are at that stage of the game, you got to be disciplined enough to carry it out.  And I would say it’s a little bit of the guys who haven’t been getting enough minutes.  They weren’t comfortable in that position.  Chicago is putting more pressure on us, and we just needed to be brave and keep playing.  I thought we stopped doing that.  As a result, we got punished.”

Columbus Crew Midfielder Bernardo Anor

On the match:

“It was a crazy game.  I think we had the opportunity to close down the match.  We started to lose 1-0, and then we went up 2-1, and then 7 minutes left we let them tie the game which leads us to overtime.  Then we give up two goals.  That killed the game so we should have done better towards the end of the game.”

On coming back to take the lead in the second half:

“A lot of new guys on the field.  For all of us, we need to hold ourselves accountable to do whatever it takes to get a ‘w’ and I think the performance for most of the guys was pretty impressive.  We were trying out a new system and it’s the first time we did such a thing.  Some of the things we did out there we are forced to take home and assess them, and get better at them.”

On his goal scored in the 70th minute:

“Speas was coming in with his right foot and I was just making the run to play me through and I decided to shoot the goal.  I gathered the rebound and saw it was wide open and got it with my left foot.”

On his thoughts on the new system:

“It’s a transition game, pretty much.  Having five in the back, we knew that Chicago was going to have one of the guys come in pretty deep and have the ball so one of the purposes for one of the 3 center backs to release his man and come help us in the middle.  So by the time we win the ball, we got to push all the backs forward and get numbers up.  I think we’re going to do a better job in doing that.  Again, it’s the first time but I think working on it we can pull it off.”

On returning to playing FC Dallas on Saturday in league play:

“We don’t like losing of course, but I think the positive thing is we will be 100% in getting those 3 points against Dallas.  We need to focus on that so now our priority is to get good rest and our mind ready for the game.”

05 June 12:17 am

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.” 

24 May 10:48 pm

Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop

On where the breakdown occurred:

“We seemed flat from the first whistle. The guys seemed up for the game, but we weren’t sharp. We had a couple chances here and there. Same as them, but they were sharper in front of the goal but we were poor defensively. For us, we have to address that but it’s difficult. We have a few guys out at the moment, so there’s not a lot we can change. We just have to keep working, and it’s one of those games were Columbus was better than us tonight they deserved to win the match. You have to take the defeat and move on.”

On having five players out:

“You can understand how it’s not just the defense. You have key guys not playing, six or so. It’s not an excuse I never make excuses. I’m not blaming them they haven’t played for a while. Steven Kinney came in and he hasn’t played all season. Grant Ward made his debut and he hasn’t played for four months. Tough night around we kept going to the end but, we were pretty naïve generally all over the pitch, especially defensively. We have to make better decisions where we don’t give chances to the opposition. We left the game mentally flat. Maybe it’s because we came off two wins, and we don’t think we have to earn the right to play a game. We do every game.”

On dealing with Higuain’s ability to spring players:

“He’s pretty close to the best in the League. The game plan was as soon as he got the ball to drop. We couldn’t really figure it out. He does it at the right time and he finds space. He’s a good player, take nothing away from that guy. He’s a very good player. He sees the game well. He sees the game how it should be looked at. Offensively, we couldn’t handle it. It wasn’t just him they had good runners off the ball. We made poor decisions defensively to give them the chances to score.”

On not being able to score:

“That’s kind of us. We looked like we were going to score most games. We went through the game and had some good chances. Quincy [Amarikwa] has gotten some good spots. I just talked to him he’s a little calmer, a little bit picking guys out. I’ve only seen him once but we had chances to score but you can’t keep conceding goals and win matches. At some point you need to shut it down and make it difficult. It’s the whole team; it’s not just one or two guys. The whole team has to do it.”

Chicago Fire Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz

On the backline:

“Columbus guys are tricky, they know how to run off your back shoulder, they know how to find time on the ball and it allows guys in the midfield to pick out runners. I think that both goals come off of passes from the midfield with runners off of our back shoulder. They both ended up as goals. They also had other opportunities that were similar that didn’t come off for them.”

On Columbus tactics:

“They overload the midfield so we have to find a way to get pressure on the ball. If we turn the ball over then there is no pressure on the ball and then he can pick his head up and make those passes. Like I said, the forwards and the wingers are tricky enough to run off his shoulder and find that space. It’s dangerous.”

On missing players on the road:

“Every road game in this League is a difficult game. However, every road game is a winnable game if you’re playing right, if you’re turned on at the right moments. Today we weren’t.”

Chicago Fire Goalkeeper Sean Johnson

On new players in new positions:

“I think you can’t really come up with any excuses. You can’t really look to blame a different lineup or different person. We are all on the same team. We all train together on the pitch and prepare ourselves for match day. I think it’s down to what we do when we step on the field. We are more than capable of meshing together for 90 minutes and getting a result.”

On Higuain:

“Higuain is a class player. He’s not just been doing that for our game, he didn’t really come out of anywhere, he’s been doing it all season. We’ve got to do a better job of being aware of the kind of things he likes to do. He’s a crafty player, very good on the ball. I think just putting ourselves in better spots. It’s not any surprise to us that Higuain is capable of threading those passes and putting himself in those spots. It’s just up to us to deal with those things better.”

On goals:

“On the first one I put him out wide and I think it was still an angle where he had a difficult finish. It could’ve been saved, possibly. The second one was in no man’s land and I came out to close the angle and he did well to put it past me.”

COLUMBUS CREW SPORTING DIRECTOR AND HEAD COACH GREGG BERHALTER

On needing a win:

The starting point is it is always better to win then to lose or draw. We’re happy. I think we’ve been frustrated that we’ve been playing well and not getting the results. We’re still trying to focus on the product we’re creating and how we’re playing. It’s nice when you get results. From that standpoint were happy. I think it was a good effort. Obviously we’re missing some guys but we did a great job.

On Ethan Finlay’s first start of the season:

He was excellent. This game isn’t something that comes out of the blue. If we look at what he’s been doing these last couple of weeks, he’s been leading up to this. I’m most happy with the fact that he was a guy that isn’t a starter, he works his way to the 18, he works his way to the starting lineup, then he performs like this. You can see the progression and he makes other guys believe there’s a chance. He makes other guys believe that if they work hard and train hard that they will get an opportunity.

On defense:

Chicago hasn’t been shut-out yet this season I think that speaks for itself. The guys did it with determination. Guys like Eric [Gehrig], Tyson [Wahl], Hector [Jimenez]. I mean I thought Chad Barson was great as well with his defensive responsibilities. Steve Clark was very secure today. On crosses, he didn’t give up any rebounds today and that’s what you want from a goalkeeper. I think these guys really responded. You can see some of the guys that played last week and played again this week they are getting a rhythm and they are getting a lot more comfortable.

On Michael Parkhurst and importance of getting him in the game:

I think the fans were spectacular to give him that ovation and really cheer him on. He’s been through a lot these last couple of days and it’s nice for him to feel that everyone supports him. It’s the team, the fans and the community supports him. He had a tough session on Thursday, followed by a weight session followed by a red-eye across the country. It was too much for him, he wanted to play but I didn’t think it was worth the risk of an injury after all of that travel and training.

On replacing Federico Higuain:

You don’t replace Federico, simple as that. We get someone on the field that can play their game and we’re not going to ask someone to come in and play like Federico that would be foolish of us. We’re going to ask someone to come in and play to the best of their ability. I’m confident that we are going to be able to get that out of someone.

COLUMBUS CREW GOALKEEPER STEVE CLARK

On tonight’s game:

We had a fantastic game. We knew that there were a lot of players on this team that could play and Eric [Gehrig] obviously stepped up tonight. The thing about Eric is that he is a gamer, the whistle blows and we don’t have a problem.

On second shutout of the season:

For me it’s more important to win and I knew that if I continued to play the way that I play every game then shutouts are going to come and a lot of them. For me it’s about process not results all the time, especially in the goal keeping you have to keep your head and blinders on from distractions. Shut outs come and they go.

On Chicago’s playing before first goal:

You have to give credit to Ethan Finlay for figuring that out, he had a fantastic run. He is a very intelligent kid and a very intelligent soccer player. He spotted that and he was in behind.

On Crew’s teamwork tonight:

I think that our backline had a good game but I can’t tell you compared to their backline. We didn’t give them a goal and they gave up two but I thought that we played very well.

COLUMBUS CREW DEFENDER MICHAEL PARKHURST

On playing tonight:

It’s nice to be back home. It’s a few weeks earlier than I participated or that I wanted but it’s really good to be home. And it was a really nice motivation when I came on the field and I heard everybody. I was really appreciative of that and the support that everyone has given me here.

On the last 48 hours since being cut from the final U.S. Men’s National Team roster:

It’s tough. We didn’t know that the cuts were going to come in that day so no expectations there. It’s difficult of course, I just lost my dream. You have to bounce back and be professional. Now my whole propose is the Crew.

On leaving with his “best foot forward”:

Yeah I think so, I don’t think that there is anything else I could have done. I don’t think that there was anything negative that was on my part that made them not choose me. I think that’s just how it was set up.  It makes it a little easier for me to swallow knowing that I had done my best.

On moving on from the roster announcement:

Absolutely, it’s great to be back around the guys.  I wanted to come back here and get back to business as quick as possible to get my mind off of it.

18 May 6:51 pm

Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop

On the Fire’s first win at Toyota Park this season

“Well obviously, last time I saw you guys, it wasn’t a pretty sight with the game we had before. But today, we come away with three points against a good side – it’s obviously the aim before the match. We got it done; we’re unbeaten in two games, which is always a good thing. We dug through and got the result that we needed. We should have shut them off with a couple of chances late in the game, but didn’t; and you have to give credit to Kansas City, they kept going, created some chances late with ten men. But it’s great to get that win; I feel good that we saw it through. But obviously, there’s room for improvement on any performance, and there’s no difference for this one.”

On the lack of shutouts

“We won the game, would have loved to get the shutout; winning is everything. If we win 3-2, 2-1, whatever it is, we’ll take it. Obviously, it’s nice defensively if we can get a shutout. But as you know, it wasn’t a defensive back four error; it was someone not picking up someone on a set play, so that’s a team thing. We’re working on stuff all the time; it’s brand new, with 10 games in, I’m happy with only losing two games in this league with a group that’s been put together a little bit. We’ve had our ups and downs; we should’ve won more games for sure. We had two home games that you saw had penalty kicks; we could be on four wins right now. It has me going, “well, that’s not bad,” so it’s give and take. I don’t get carried away with winning games; I don’t get carried away with losing or tying games. I think, right now, we’re in a good spot, we’ve got a chance to now get going. These next four games are tough; we’ve got a tough schedule, but it’s something that I’m looking forward to, to see and test the character of the boys. They’re up for the fight, and we saw this game through, which is important to me, so they’re going to feel good about it. We did the same in New York, no matter how the manner is. I got a little bit of gray hair; it could’ve been silver by the end of the game. But we got the win, and that’s all that matters at this point.”

On the revamped back line

“It’s pretty good; and again, it’s a work in progress the whole time, it’s a team defensive type of thing. I thought Patrick [Ianni] had a good, solid game again; Jhon [Kennedy Hurtado] again, I thought, was solid in the middle, the two outside backs at times. Kansas City moved the ball well; they get you overloaded at times, they pull you around. In general, they had a couple of good chances; but I thought we had the better chances, to be honest. Dilly [Duka] had a breakaway, Mike [Magee] had a chance to go around a keeper and slot it. I know it was a tough game late in the match, but we could’ve come away with four or five goals today. The way I’m trying to set the team up is to obviously try to outscore the opponent, and try to make sure that we’re going forward, but we’re just trying to be solid and defensively sound at the back. The balance at the moment is a little bit wavering; we’ve gone forward okay, but I think the defensive side of things is not quite right yet; and again, it’s not just the back four, it’s the whole thing. We watched a lot of DVD last week, we’re going to watch it again this week, and see if we can get the balance where we can just be in good spots. And I just think, as a team, we sat back a little bit again in this game. We have to slide up the field and keep the ball, especially against ten men.

On who is taking penalty kicks

“I actually had a chat with a few press guys a few weeks ago, and I decided Jeff [Larentowicz] was going to take them. But Mike [Magee] and Jeff were talking, and Jeff felt that Mike was the guy to do it. He missed the last two for us; last season [against Montreal], then the first one against Philly. To score two in the same game is tough, so you have to hand it to Mike that he stepped up and buried those two chances and won the match for us; it was great.”

On facing a 3-5-2 formation

“I have not seen that for a while, actually; that was old school MLS stuff, the 3-5-2. But looking at [Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes’] team, it was depleted a little bit at the back, so he decided to play that. It was a little bit different; for us, I’m sure where they’re going to play and who’s going to play, just make sure we’re ready to do it, and step the guys and do our thing. For a good seventy minutes, I felt we were comfortable, and then it got a little hair-raising at the end. But you have to hand it to Peter and his team, they’re a good side; they’re not champions for nothing. They proved it today; they really came up to fight, especially with 10 men.”

On the thought process behind the Fire’s double substitution

“I just thought the momentum was getting away from us a little bit, so I just decided that double is always good. One is not always the impact that you want, so I wanted to do two at the same time, and make two positions freshened up. All in all, I thought it was good; I think Logan [Pause] did a good job, and Dilly looked good when he came on. He has not played for a while, so it was good to get him some minutes and get him running around. All in all, you decide what you want to do; I talked to the coaches, but ultimately, it was my decision. I felt it was the time to do it.”

Jeff Larentowicz, Chicago Fire Midfielder

On not being able to score to put the game away:

“We want to, it’s not something we’re afraid of.  It’s just not happening.  We come close, we have opportunities, but they make the defensive plays and good saves, but it will come.  A win is a win and it’s good that we can be picky in this circumstance.”

Sean Johnson, Chicago Fire goalkeeper

On the defensive performance:

“We needed to learn how to control a game and we are.  I think tonight that the effort defensively was fantastic.  We limited shots, limited chances and there were not many shots on target at all.  I think we’ll look to build on that going forward, but I’m really happy with the performance tonight.

On the learning curve:

“I think we’ve learned a lot.  The most important thing we’ve learned is that we can’t sit back and wait for the game to come to us. No matter what the result is – regardless if we’re tied or we’re up we need to keep playing our game and be confident that we can dictate the way the game goes, close out games and get results.”

On building momentum:

“Back-to-back wins are huge for us.  Now we know what it feels like to win.  We know how to win and now it’s a matter of focusing on the little things and getting it right so that every game we give ourselves a chance to win and put ourselves in a position to go on and push for three points.”

Mike Magee, Chicago Fire forward:

On the first win a home:

“We needed a win badly; however, if that’s how we’re going to win games, I probably only have a couple games left in my career. We’ll take it, it was deserved.  It was a very funky game, but we’ll take wins however we can get them at this point.”

On the end of the game:

“That’s kind of been our M.O.  We get up in games, play well in spurts then kind of take our foot off the gas.  That happened again tonight.  We created a couple chances, I even had a couple of good ones, but for whatever reason we’re letting teams hang in games, and teams like K.C. usually make you pay.”

Harry Shipp, Chicago Fire midfielder

On playing K.C. with missing starters and a man-up in the second half:

“The players they subbed in for them are still really good players.  A championship team isn’t 11 guys it’s 18 guys.  When you slide guys into the midfield and up front they are still going to be dangerous.  I think they were good keeping the ball in the attacking half, but once we were able to break that pressure we did a good job of slipping balls in – getting Quincy and Mike behind for some penalty calls in the first half.”

16 May 8:00 am

The Fire finally picked up three points last week in dramatic fashion with a 5-4 win over Red Bull in New Jersey and will look to make it two on the trot when they welcome defending MLS Cup champs Sporting Kansas City to Toyota Park on Sunday (2pm CT My50/TWCSC-WI/UniMas).

Sporting brings a depleted squad to Chicago but their first loss at home in some time at the hands of the Union on Wednesday night means they come to town with a bad taste in their mouth. Here are some things to look out for from a tactical perspective.

Taking advantage of a depleted SKC defense – testing the makeshift back line

On Sunday, Kansas City will take the field without either member of their famed center backs – Aurelien Collin (injury) and Matt Besler (international duty). Right back Chance Myers is also a doubt. On the outside, Seth Sinovic could be the only regular starter in the back four to play on Sunday while Brazilian Igor Julião had a solid debut in Wednesday’s match against Philly.

In the past, SKC have dealt with the loss of Besler due to national team commitments but losing both center backs is a large blow. SKC’s patched up defense must have Mike Magee and Quincy Amarikwa licking their lips. Last week we saw Harry Shipp play an absolutely brilliant defense-splitting pass to put Mike Magee in 1v1 with Red Bull ‘keeper Luis Robles.

Against SKC, Shipp and whoever plays in the center of midfield alongside Jeff Larentowicz should be looking to play those types of passes in behind the SKC defense to the onrushing Magee or Amarikwa.

Repeating last week’s second half tactic on Sunday – putting high pressure on SKC

Amarikwa described Frank Yallop’s tactical switch at halftime of the New York game the best. When asked, he said, “We came in at half time and knew we were sitting in too much. We were giving New York too much respect to play and we know we can score goals. That’s what we’ve done consistently this year. So, we said in the second half we’re just going to high press, what do we have to lose, and I think it really caught them off guard.”

The exact same tactic should be in place from the first whistle against SKC. In Wednesday’s match against the Union, Sporting gave up the ball on far too many occasions, many times with minimal pressure applied by the opposition. The Union sat back and used the counter attack to their advantage but for the Fire, forcing a new-look SKC into mistakes will be critical.

If Benji Joya gets the start again in the center of the park, I expect to see more from him in this regard. Joya is slowly but surely improving the defensive side of his game but against a team like SKC, I expect him to take a page out of the Dax McCarty playbook and not allow the SKC players any time on the ball.

Joya has the comfort of Jeff Larentowicz behind him so taking a few risks and pressing higher up the field could reap rewards

Providing more support to the outside backs – wing backs exposed again against NYRB last week

As I discussed last week, a lot of the problems for the Fire defensively stem from attacks coming from the wide areas. That was again the case against the Red Bulls in Saturday’s game. It was obvious that NYRB coach Mike Petke told his team to try and isolate Greg Cochrane on the left hand side. During the first half, the Red Bulls attacked almost exclusively down the Fire left. Cochrane certainly held his own but he lacked support from Harry Shipp who was playing in front of him.

On the other side, Lovel Palmer had a tough game in New York. The Red Bulls were again allowed space and time to put in crosses and it really hurt the Fire. Case in point being the Red Bulls first goal, where Eric Alexander was given yards of space to pick out a cross and he duly found the head of Tim Cahill, the best header of a ball in the league.

Against a team like Sporting KC, who put an emphasis on getting their full backs forward to support the outside attackers, the Fire need to try and minimize the amount of 1v1 situations between our outside backs and the SKC wide men.

Prediction: The Fire are hitting KC at the right time: 2-1 Fire with goals from Mike Magee and Benji Joya.

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

WATCH: No cardiac arrest after 5-4 win in New York

15 May 11:48 am

Wednesday night's Art of Futbol at Prairie Production Studio was another fantastic success. Check out some of the pieces as well as interviews from Gonzalo Segares, Benji Joya, Frank Yallop and Foundation Director Jessica Yavitz:

 

Check out select shots from the Art of Futbol 2014!

14 May 9:35 am

We’ll probably never know what was said at halftime in the away locker room this weekend in Harrison, NJ. We won’t know if things were kicked or thrown, if team leaders screamed, or if, as is Frank Yallop’s style, calm orders were dispatched.  

What we do know, though, is that players after the game said they came out focused on putting more pressure on NYRB’s back line. And we know that whatever was said got the Fire refocused enough to turn around a 2-1 halftime score line, score four goals in 19 minutes and overcome a frustrating start to the season to get their first win.

But that talk will go down in the history of halftime talks because whether or not Yallop Al Pacino’d the squad, they came out re-pumped up to the point where Quincy Amarikwa was ready to do this:

Amarikwa was ready to throw his face in front of Luis Robles’s clearance if it meant continuing to pressure NYRB and continuing to build for the Fire the advantage they eventually, if not exactly calmly, rode to three points.

As much as I’d like to picture Yallop standing on chairs and screaming, there are other signs that point to a different kind of leadership at halftime. Look at Mike Magee here, barely five minutes into the second half, extolling the guys to push up and stay up. His eyes are popping out of his forehead!

One of the most competitive guys in the league, Magee could smell NYRB’s weakness after Amarikwa tied the game at 2-2. And Magee did his job after the Fire built their three goal cushion, helping through the midfield in the game’s dying moments to help the Fire fight off NYRB and finish off the win.

What all this points to is that whatever really went down at halftime, the orders were clearly to pressure NYRB’s back line and close out the game. The mistakes Magee, Amarikwa, Patrick Nyarko, and game hero Harry Shipp squeezed out of that back line were exactly what Yallop expected.

The true magic of the situation was that the orders were delivered in a way to convey a strategic, tactics-based message with enough emotional weight to overshadow the recent disappointments in the team’s mind. It led to eye-popping bodily sacrifice for the team. Everyone came together for the best 20 minute spell of the season, and it led to a deserved win.

Ben Schuman-Stoler is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @bsto.

10 May 10:48 pm

Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop

On the spirit of the team:

“It’s been good. I mean, you know, I think last week we had that same situation. We’re 5-2 up in this game and they nearly come back and tied it. We’re two-nil up at home and they come back and win it, [Real] Salt Lake last week. So, what I’d like to think is we’ve learned something from last week. We can only get as hairy as this, but [we’re] playing against a really good team. You can’t take away from that.”

On Harry Shipp:

“Great. Harry’s been playing really well. Each game he’s gotten better, and better, and better. I think just his passes with the one pass to Mike [Magee] when he just missed it, first half, to make it 2-1 I think, and they go down the other end and score. That pass, you know, he’s got that passing in as well as the finishing. I can’t say enough about Harry. He’s really working hard at his game, he looks like a real player, and I think he’s got a great chance at going all the way.”

On the importance of scoring the first goal:

“I always say, and I think there’s stats if you look at the stats, if you score first in our league it’s 83 percent, I think, you get a point or more. So, I think, you know, getting on the chart first is always a big thing. We’ve been a bit unlucky, to be honest. We’ve had two home games and we’ve had a penalty kick in the last minute of the game to win it and missed them both. So, we could’ve been on three wins, four wins, you know, maybe two wins, or whatever and we’re not stuck talking about it now. What I like about the group, you know, they’re really celebrating now because they deserve it, you know, we’ve deserved more that we’ve got. They have not dropped their heads, come to a really difficult place to play, and get a result, and score five goals, which is amazing really, in any game, not just coming to New York and doing it. I’m really proud of the guys the way they hung in there at the end, Sean [Johnson] made two great saves, and we preserved the win.”

Chicago Fire Forward Quincy Amarikwa

On the match:

“I think overall we showed a lot of fight. We came on the road, I think a lot of people, especially the analysts, didn’t think we could come out here and get the road win. I’m glad we were able to prove them wrong.”

On the second half:

“We came in at half time and knew we were sitting in too much. We were giving New York too much respect to play and we know we can score goals. That’s what we’ve done consistently this year. So, we said in the second half we’re just going to high press, what do we have to lose, and I think it really caught them off guard. We put away the number of goals we needed to get the win tonight.”

On the importance of getting the first win of the season:

“I think it’s a pretty big relief, you know, we’ve kept the morale high this entire time. We’ve known we’re capable of winning. I mean a lot of games came down, I think there’s two games that came down to PK’s that we just weren’t lucky on. It was nice to have a little bit of luck go our way today and I just think it’s what’s more to come. We know we can win and we just proved it tonight and we’re going to continue on with the rest of the season.”

Chicago Fire Midfielder Harry Shipp

On the match:

“Yeah I’m honestly just happy to get the first win for this team. I think over the past four or five games, or so, we’ve had some heartbreaking ties and losses giving up late goals, especially last week. So, I think just hanging on for the win, I think New York’s a good team, they were going to get back in the game, you kind of knew that, but just kind of some last ditch defending helped us in the last 10 minutes or so. I’m just happy, if I score three goals and we don’t win the game it doesn’t really matter. So, that’s what’s important.” 

On his game:

“Yeah I think especially in the second half. I think I was finding spaces in the first half and played a ball to Mike [Magee], scored one goal, but I think we kind of knew going into half time, I think we knew we could exploit those spaces even more underneath, me coming inside off the left and so I think we really started pressing higher in the second half, trying to win the ball off their back four, which is how I got my second goal, or third goal was taking it off of them. So yeah, I think the first, especially 30 minutes of the second half were really good.”

On play of the team:

“Yeah it was surprisingly upbeat. You know, I think we played well for those first 70 minutes or so and then I think we collapsed down the stretch, but we know if we could take those 70 minutes and turn it into 90 minutes we have a chance to win every game and I think we’ve been playing well the prior three, four games before that and that was just a lapse of 20 minutes, like I said. But yeah, I think everyone was hungry in training, everyone was feisty trying to get after it, trying to get a spot in the [starting] 11, and I think, you know, it showed this game.”