Last Saturday’s injury time loss to RSL prolonged the Fire’s misery for another week as the team continues to search for their first win on the season. It doesn’t get any easier this weekend, when the Men in Red travel to Red Bull Arena to face New York on Saturday evening (5:30pm CT on My50/TWCSC). The Red Bulls have yet to really hit the ground running the season and will be looking to repeat the drubbing of the Fire in the last regular season game of 2013.
Here are some tactical observations to look out for on Saturday evening.
A potential shakeup in the back? A return for Segares likely but other changes possible
Frank Yallop didn’t have positive things to say about his team’s defending for the last 20+ minutes against RSL as and I expect him to make one or more changes to the back four for Saturday’s game. With Gonzalo Segares making the 18 last Saturday, one potential switch is at left back in place of Greg Cochrane.
Cochrane’s attacking ability has been a highlight during his stint in the starting eleven but he was caught out defensively on more than one occasion during the last 20 minutes against RSL. From a purely tactical perspective, the return of Segares would boost the Fire’s aerial defending prowess, especially against threats such as Tim Cahill.
A few weeks ago, Frank Yallop spoke about the need to get Patrick Ianni game time with both Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Bakary Soumare in the team’s reserve game vs. Charlotte, in the case he may need to be utilized in a future match.
Some of the mental mistakes made by Soumare last season have crept back into his play of late and this could result in Ianni getting a run Saturday vs. Red Bull. a
New York have scored the most goals in the East this season and the Fire cannot afford to make any more mental mistakes especially against a team boasting the Conference’s top goal scorer in Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry, the Fire’s arch nemesis over the past few seasons.
What to do up front? – Will Amarikwa or Anangono partner Magee up front?
In a game where it was imperative that he put in a solid performance, Juan Luis Anangono gave a good shift against RSL last week, picking up a goal and linking well at times with Mike Magee. His competition for a starting spot on Saturday evening is the returning top goal scorer Quincy Amarikwa who missed the match due to red card suspension.
Tactically, there are arguments to be made for both players to get the nod. Amarikwa’s constant high pressure on the opposition’s backline would be welcome against a New York team who continue to be weak defensively in the wide areas.
Quincy is also the more ideal player to have in 1v1 situations, especially if the Fire can get him against one of the Red Bull center backs. In the middle, Jamison Olave has lost a step of pace from his days in Salt Lake and his partner Armando has yet to settle fully into MLS.
Anangono’s size is an important factor to consider, both in the attack, and defensively where he would be useful for set pieces. It is also important for the Fire to start being smarter in possession, especially holding the ball up in the attack.
Anangono has been a mixed bag in this regard so far this season but if he is given his second start in a row, I expect to see an emphasis on this tactic on Saturday night.
Monitoring Lloyd Sam – Stepping out and pressuring the Red Bull winger
Just looking at Lloyd Sam’s four assists this season gives you a good indication into the threat the Englishman poses. From his wide right position, Sam’s crossing is extremely accurate. Not only does he put himself into good wide positions, his ability to still put in a cross while under pressure from a defender makes him even more dangerous. Another problem with the Fire’s late game collapse last week was the lack of urgency by the team’s outside midfielders and defenders to close down the RSL wide players resulting in free crosses.
In Saturday’s game, the Fire must not allow Sam to get similar amounts of space granted to RSL. Stifling Sam will also cut the supply to Wright-Phillips and Henry.
Prediction: If I predict we will win, the team will end up with a tie so I’m going with a 2-2 tie with goals from Quincy Amarikwa and Benji Joya.
Stephen Piggott is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @Irish_Steve.
WATCH: The Centerback
The first round of the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kicked off across the country with seven matches (and a forfeit) Wednesday night.
Of note, three games went to extra time with two of those going to penalty kicks. One of the matches decided in a shootout was that of local side RWB Adria downing NPSL darlings Detroit City FC 3-1 on penalties after playing to a dramatic 2-2 draw.
Hot Time in Old Town's Sean Spence live tweeted the match from Livonia Stevenson High School in suburban Detroit where Adria took an early lead through Vlad Baciu in the 20th minute. Fueled by the always raucous DCFC partisans, the home side took a 2-1 lead with second half goals from Tyler Arnone and former Colorado Rapids defender Kevin Taylor in the 71st and 77th minutes respectively.
Baciu bagged a dramatic brace in the dying moments of regulation to send the match to extra time where both teams saw two players sent off and neither could find a goal in the 30 extra minutes. Adria played the spoiler connecting with three of their penalties to see out Detroit City FC and set up a return date to Detroit next week where they'll face perennial U.S. Open Cup spoilers Michigan Bucks next Wednesday, May 14.
These games should be of interest for Fire fans as the regional groupings make sense for a potential fourth round match up (where MLS teams enter the tournament).
- The tournament saw it's first forfeit in a decade as USASA side Corinthians were forced to withdraw from their match against the San Diego Flash due to not being able to obtain international clearance for their players in time to play the match. TheCup.US has more information on this intriguing story.
- Kudos to U.S. Soccer for upping their coverage of the tournament this year by introducing a "Game of the Round" which streamed on the Federation's official site Wednesday night. The chosen match saw the USL Premier Development League's Western Mass Pioneers down USASA side GPS Massachusetts 4-1 to advance to the second round. Catch the archive of the match here.
- With the first round done and second round matches set, U.S. Soccer will conduct the tournament's third round draw at Soccer House in Chicago this afternoon. Chicago-Fire.com will once again be a witness at the festivities and have a full account of how the matchups happened later Thusday.
Buy early, buy often...
One of the club's big initiatives during the 2014 season has been the Pub to Pitch bus program. As the season continues gathering pace, the club has experienced a rise in demand for bus tickets. As a result, all supporters are encouraged to purchase their bus tickets at least three days in advance of each matchday in order to guarantee a seat on the round trip bus to Fire games.
“The goal of the Pub to Pitch program is to help sell out the stadium every game in order to provide an advantage for our boys on the field,” said Fire Senior Vice President Mike Ernst. “Given our stadium location, we want to offer our supporters a convenient option for transportation to and from the match.
“Because we sold so many tickets so early, we were really happy to be able to run a second bus for The Atlantic and The Globe Pub route last Saturday. I think it is a harbinger of things to come regarding growth of the program, so be sure to reserve your seat early to guarantee a spot on the bus.”
We want to see multiple buses running from each of our partner bars in the city every matchday. In short, if you're planning on coming out to the next home game on Sunday, May 18 vs. Sporting KC, buy your ticket now and encourage your friends to do so as well.
As an extra bonus, those that buy a Pub to Pitch ticket for next Sunday by 11:59pm CT tonight will be entered to win a limited edition Pub to Pitch scarf! See below:
To view a full schedule of departure times and to purchase your tickets, visit www.pubtopitch.com.
Off the beaten Fire path today is the historic news that Helena Costa, a successful female coach who has guided the likes of the Iranian and Qatari women's national teams has been given the management reigns of French Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot for next season.
With the news, the Portuguese manager becomes the highest-profile female manager of a men's team in European football history.
Clermont Foot's official statement on the appointment said, "It should help the club enter a new era."
Costa has also served in scouting roles for Portuguese and Scottish giants Benfica and Celtic respectively as well as managing lower league Portuguese sides Cheleirense and Odivelas.
Clermont Foot sit 14th in the Ligue 2 table with two matches to play. They'll secure their place in the league for next season with a draw in one of their final two games home vs. Troyes (May 9) and away to Tours (May 15).
What do you think of the news? How long do you think it'll be before a female manager is considered for a job in Major League Soccer? As of today, who would be your top candidate?
If you're any type of soccer nerd, you may know the record for most lopsided defeat in a FIFA national team match match came on April 11, 2001 when an Australian side pushing to move outside of the Oceanic Football Confederation made a point by defeating tiny American Samoa 31-0.
Needless to say, the defeat brought large embarrassment to the tiny U.S. territory whose population is just a hair over 55,000.
Enter former D.C. United, Toronto FC and U.S. U-20 coach Thomas Rongen who threw connections with the U.S. Soccer Federation took the reigns for American Samoa during OFC qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The Dutchman worked wonders by leading the small nation to its first ever international win when they defeated Tonga 2-1 in their opening match of qualifying.
American Samoa tied their second match 1-1 vs. Cook Island and narrowly missed advancing out of the group, falling to Samoa 1-0 in the 89th minute of their final match.
While the side didn't advance, cameras followed Rongen throughout his short stint leading the team and made the movie "Next Goal Wins" which recently debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.
This is where you come in... There will be a local screening of the film at the Regal Gardens 7-13 in Skokie on Wednesday, May 21 at 7:30pm. In order for it to happen, the theater needs RSVPs by the end of the day Wednesday.
Tickets are just $10.50 and can be purchased by clicking here.
WATCH the trailer for the film below:
The Chicago Fire were honored to have a very special guest take part in the club's First Kick at Saturday night's game vs. Real Salt Lake.
Jack received a liver transplant from Lurie Children's Hospital when he was five months old. Now in Kindergarten, Jack is a healthy five-year-old who plays AYSO soccer with his team the Blue Bombers.
Check out this video of Jack's experience from Saturday's match:
With his goal in Saturday's match vs. Real Salt Lake, Fire forward Mike Magee continued to climb the club's goal scoring charts at an impressive clip.
The 22nd minute rebound on Harry Shipp's initial shot was Magee's 17th for the Fire in MLS play, tying him with footballing legend Hristo Stoitchkov at 10th on the club's all-time goal scoring list. But for his 63rd minute hit off the cross bar, Magee nearly moved into a tie for 10th on the list with Brian McBride, Dominic Oduro and Chad Barrett.
Here's an infographic detailing where Magee stands, with the important stat being how quickly he's gotten there compared to those around him.
As you can see from the chart below, nearly every goal Magee scores this year will move him further up the ladder, underlying that the club really hasn't had a long-term scoring threat since Ante Razov left the team after 2004. How high on the chart below do you think Magee can go by season's end? Tell us in the comments below.
|Rank||Player (Years)||Goals||Games Played|
Check out different angles and slow mo versions of Mike Magee & Juan Luis Anangono's first half goals from Saturday's match vs. Real Salt Lake:
Frank Yallop, Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer
On if the Fire were the better team tonight
“No, cause they weren’t. The first half was good, the second half we were totally out played. Very naïve from us. At some point you have to figure it out on the field. I can’t do much from where I am at except make changes in certain things, the lineup, and get other players in, but you got to stand up and be counted.”
On how frustrated he feels
“I feel terrible because I thought tactically we had it figured out. We did great in the first half, but the game is 90 minutes. You got to punish them with another goal, but I said at half time ‘they are going to come at you because they’re good.’ I don’t think we really wanted to win that game because we didn’t show it. If we wanted to, we would have put our head through the ball, and be good at that stuff. We had a total collapse in a game we should have won.”
On if the team broke down from Real Salt Lake’s pressure
“They’re a good side. They could have scored a couple first half [goals].The whole game is in ebbs and flows, we had some chances, took them, they had a couple, and Sean made two great saves. We’ve played eight games, we’ve not won yet. We got to go to a tough place next game, and we got to get a result.”
On keeping morale high without getting wins
“We will find out next week. We’ve not had that happen to us collapsing like that in the second half. Take nothing away from them but we should see that game out, 2-1, even 2-2, but not 3-2. I got to figure out who is going to be punching and fighting the whole season, the whole 90 minutes.”
On if there will be some changes for next week
“It’s a bit early for that, but I would think so.”
On if there was too much respect for Real Salt Lake
“They play a certain style of game. It’s a possession game. We just kept going backwards and not stepping into people. We tended to drop and have low pressure, but that doesn’t mean no pressure. You still got to try to win the ball back and then break. I don’t want to be that deep, but we ended up that deep. You got to see that game through. We’ve got to be man enough to see that game through, and we didn’t.”
On positives from that performance
“We scored two goals. I guess that’s a positive. When you lose it’s sickening. It’s very difficult to take. First half, Sean made some good saves and we played pretty well. Then a crazy 15-20 minute spell, we give the game to them, which is really disappointing.”
Jeff Larentowicz, Chicago Fire midfielder and captain
On what changed from the first half to the second half:
“We stopped doing things in the second half that we did well in the first – we conceded ground, allowed them to play in our end, didn’t connect passes once we had it, and if you do that against a good team they are going to beat you.”
On how RSL was able to do that:
“They crowd the ball, they get a lot of numbers, and they’re good at finding ways to keep possession. They make you work defensively, so once you get it you’re tired and they wear you down. I don’t think it was a conscious thing where we said ‘alright let’s hunker down,’ we just have to defend and defend properly.”
On how to move forward:
“This is a mental test for us. All the positives we’ve been putting on things, we can’t do it any longer. It’s been weeks and tonight it’s a loss, it’s not a game where can say we played a complete game and didn’t get the points, we didn’t. We have to look at the mistakes we made and move on. Like I said, it’s a mental challenge; we can’t go in the negative direction. The guys have to keep a positive attitude, guys have to honestly assess what they are doing personally to a man, go home and figure out how they are going to work harder and push themselves to have a positive attitude and push on. At this point it’s difficult – you can go one of two directions and we have to push forward and have to expect that we can learn from our mistakes and move on.”
Sean Johnson, Chicago Fire goalkeeper
On the result:
“I think it’s obvious that it doesn’t feel great, after we were up 2-0 and losing at home. I can’t really describe the emotions right now; it’s a difficult one to swallow at home, being up. We can’t make excuses for it though. We were not good enough.”
On the shift in the game:
“We have to search for answers. I don’t know what happened, we were up 2-0 on cruise control, the game was in our hands and they scored one, they scored two, get the momentum and before you know it they won the game.”
On what’s next for the team:
“This was definitely a test for us. We’ve got to look at ourselves, there’s no one for us to blame. We’ve got to look at ourselves in the locker room and come up with a solution. We keep digging a hole for ourselves, there’s no reason at this point in the season we should be where we are - we should be close to the top of the table. We’ve had games in hand; off the top of my head we’ve had four games now that I feel like we should have gotten a win. Scratch the ties, we’ve taken a step back now with the loss. We’ve got to get back to training. We can’t get down; we can’t let something like this affect the mood of the team. We have to keep chugging along; we have a handful of games left, so we have to dig in.”
On the difficulty of staying positive during the winless streak:
“This is our job, professionally, game in and game out we have to have the same attitude and find a way to win games, plain and simple. We’ve been through everything tactically, physically and mentally I think now we have to find what it takes to win these games.”
On the coach’s reaction to the loss:
“Obviously we’re not happy with ourselves and the coaching staff is obviously disappointed with the result – there’s really not much more to say. There’s disappointment all the way around.”
Dan Haiek and Matt Doyle talk all things Harry Shipp and break down his rookie season.