Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop
Thoughts on the match
"Obviously getting the point on the road is sort of what you set out to do, to be honest I thought we could have nicked it and won the game. Great effort from our guys, really proud of the way they fought and battled against adversity with a few injuries here and there and a couple things going on, not having a full lineup. I’m proud of the way we played and getting a point here."
On Patrick Nyarko
Well Patrick had a big impact in the game on Tuesday—the cup game we had at home—and he comes and gets the tying goal here. Just really pleased for him, it’s been a long road back. Him and Mike [Magee] off the bench… it’s a long haul back from that type of injury so I’m very happy that they’re both on the field and contributing, doing well.
On Greg Cochrane
Greg’s a guy that trains really hard and is a good squad member, he waited for his chance and he’s done pretty well. It’s a lot of injuries right now with guys out so it’s nice for guys to come in and do contribute and do well.
Others that have impressed during two-game stretch
Just on tonight, from Adi, Eric Gehrig and then Polster had a lot of pressure on them, they handled the power of Houston’s attack and I think they defended very well. Sean [Johnson] when he had to come up and make a save, he did, or come for crosses, he did, so that was good. Thought Lovell [Palmer] had a good night, good chance for Mike [Magee], Greg [Cochrane], I thought everyone contributed to the point.
Chicago Fire forward Patrick Nyarko
On scoring in his first MLS game back from injury
First of all, I dedicate this to my grandmother. She’s being buried tomorrow, so rest in peace. I’m proud, I’m proud of the guys. I think we found something special at the end of the game. How we reacted after we gave up the goal is how we need to play every game. The guys realize that. I’m glad I was able to help but kudos to the guys, they came out fighting and they know now this is what it takes to win games in this league. Every single game, this is what it will take to win it. I’m proud of the guys and I hope this play will continue.
On the goal
If it goes out wide, we’ve been taught to crash the box so I just went in the box. I knew that Greg [Cochrane] was going to cross it, so when cross came through I just decided to get to goal to get a toe on it or something like that, and luckily I think me and the defender both hit the ball and if the goalie hadn’t been there it would have gone in anyway. But then it was able to rebound off of him and I think he stayed down and I got up; I knew I was in front of the goal and just turned and hit the target and it went in.
How did the knee hold up?
It did fine besides the Houston heat and the [inaudible]. Generally I was fine for most of the game. I wasn’t expecting to play the full half but when Frank told me just keep building, keep getting some game fitness in there and keep building on it. So I’m glad I was able to get the full 45 minutes here, especially in Houston with the heat, so hopefully I feel fine.
What does it mean for you personally to get through 45 minutes?
It’s huge, it’s huge. As my recovery continues, I keep saying I still have a little bit to go but all of these are confidence builders. Fifteen minutes, 45 minutes and then sooner rather than later I’ll be considering myself for a starting position. All I want is to help this team win games. That’s all I’ve been about and that’s what I’ll keep doing.
Are the last two games a bit of a turning point for the team?
I hope so, I hope so. You know, it’s been a difficult season with injuries; someone person comes up, one person goes down. I’m really excited to get everyone back to see how the depth that we’ve been talking about. We’re going to coexist. I think it’s going to be great and I’m curious and excited to see everyone healthy and us coming back in the second part of the season.
Chicago Fire midfielder Harry Shipp
On the difficulties of playing in Houston
It’s a lot different than being back in Chicago for sure, but I was really proud of the effort and the intensity we showed throughout the night. It’s hard when you’re in the 75th minute and you’ve got to step 15 yards to an outside back and you don’t want to do it and you’re tired, but we consistently did it all night and we won the ball and created some chances to potentially win in the last 15 minutes.
Has this been a turning point?
Yeah, I think this group of guys -- obviously we’re not at a hundred percent right now—but for us there’s no excuses. We had guys that came in and battled. Patrick [Nyarko] came back, first MLS game in 10 months or whatever, and Mike [Magee] came in and was a spark. I think the guys that we’ve got on the field and the guys that are coming off the bench this game did a really good job for us.
On Patrick Nyarko scoring on his MLS return
It’s special. I’ve never had to go through an injury recovery process like that, fortunately, but just seeing him every day, kind of the ups and downs with his emotions and his attitude and to finally come back and be playing well and to make a difference it’s something obviously you hope for during those last six months of recovery.
On a large cast of players getting a chance to impact the game
It’s kind of just ‘next man up.’ We’ve got Polster sliding around from centerback to midfield, me kind of playing everywhere in the midfield, you’ve got J.J. playing. We’ve got a lot of guys playing different positions and not complaining, just doing what they need to do. In previous games I think we weren’t always doing the little things effort-wise to get results in difficult places and I think tonight we did all the little things to get the win—unfortunately it didn’t happen but I think we showed promise that we can build off it and get it the next game.
If you’re looking for the perfect way to cap the Fourth of July weekend, Chicago Fire Rec Soccer has the answer. Reserve a spot now in the CFRS Fourth of July 7-v-7 Tournament on Sunday (July 5) at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch in Chicago (3626 N. Talman Ave.).
Players are invited to register their men’s, women’s or coed teams for $299 per team, or to sign up as an individual for $30. The tournament runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers 3-5 games lasting 25 minutes each.
Happy Fourth of July and best of luck to all participants!
As convincing as the Chicago Fire attack was Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16, the Men In Red also were the beneficiaries of several moments of brilliance by goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
Charlotte Independence striker Ryan Finley came on as a substitute in the second half Tuesday at Toyota Park and found two point-blank chances that looked to be sure goals. Both times, Johnson pulled off spectacular saves, leaving Finley dumbfounded with his hands on his head.
“Sean Johnson was outstanding tonight,” Fire head coach Frank Yallop stated matter-of-factly after the match.
WATCH: Match Highlights
It was a totally different scenario for Johnson than in Chicago's first U.S. Open Cup game against Louisville City FC. In that match, the 26-year-old wasn’t asked to do much at all, even as the match remained deadlocked into extra time. But on Tuesday, there were a couple occasions when his quality was called upon to preserve a 3-1 Fire win.
As Kevin Egan discusses in this week's edition of Fire Field Vision, the veteran of 160 career matches with the Fire has looked in top form since being reinserted in the Starting XI following a five-game absence. In three games, he's allowed only two goals, neither of which could be considered his fault. And despite conceding the opener against Charlotte, Johnson and the Fire fought back to claim victory.
“In those moments, you’ve got to have true character in going down 1-0 early on and battling back,” he said. “Ultimately coming into the second half and being dominant in the second half, we’re learning what things we can and cannot do in matches. I think that’s the most important thing is being able to learn from experiences like yesterday and be on the winning end of things instead of the losing end.”
With the Fire in search of their first MLS win since May 30, Johnson and his teammates were pleased with Tuesday's Open Cup effort. Coming out on top can be a big boost, both for the team as a whole and for Johnson, who has certainly found his form.
“It’s all the same,” Johnson said. “I think performances, regardless of what team you’re playing, provide confidence. … Any performance – doesn’t matter if it’s Open Cup or a friendly – any performances like that can prove vital going into league play.”
Frank Yallop, Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer
Thoughts on the match:
"Obviously great to get through into the next round, coming from behind is always important as well. But I probably think the highlight of the game was seeing Patrick and Mike being back on the field and contributing to us. Very happy for the team and those two guys as individuals. It's being a long way back for them. Happy to see them on the field, very proud in the way the team kept going and got the result. I thought Sean Johnson was outstanding also."
On what was said at halftime to change the tempo of the game
"Yeah, I would say the first twenty minutes were edgy, and we didn't really have any confidence, as we know in sports, is everything. We didn't go out with any confidence to start the first half, we looked nervous and edgy. Then we started coming to it towards the end of the first half, and obviously got the first goal. So, I said we just got to up the tempo, I liked from the outset we pushed on. After halftime we kind of allowed them to play and I felt we weren't too bad going forward at the end of the first half. I felt we allowed them to play too much and giving them too much respect on the ball. The demeanor was a lot better the second half but they created some good chances for sure. It was good tonight, we weren't our best against them but thing is here is having your goalkeeper play well. And finish off chances and both boxes have said it enough, we were pretty good in both boxes tonight."
On Mike Magee's return
"Mike gave everything he had. He still has a little bit of a catch up but I think after he scored the second goal, he went over to our fitness coach Adrian Lamb and gave him hug because he worked very hard to get him back to this point. When you have surgery, you think you're going to get back pretty quickly but you realize it is 9 months and it's a long time. I think he is very appreciative from the work he put in himself and the staff we have here to get him to this point. I'm pleased for him and I think he showed tonight, took three shots and scored two goals. His ratio is pretty good and he's got to keep that up. Its nice to have him back, we obviously got through this game and need to get our team together. I thought Patrick looked outstanding in only 10-15 minutes, you miss guys and when they are on the field, you realize how good they are. It's not in training, it is actually in play, in the proper game. I thought Patrick looked great, I thought, and obviously Mike's goals were great. Very happy for both guys and pleased to have them out there."
On the play of Lovel Palmer
"I wanted Lovel to get himself forward and get back to the old Lovel, where he use to bump forward. Especially last year we kind of free front and I have not played him as right back a lot so maybe it has not been his fault all the time. He is very good going forward and I said go on please, and express yourself and do your thing. Obviously a great long range shot and great ball from Mike for the goal, so he had a good night. Has a little bit of a tight groin but we will see how he is doing but hopefully he is okay. I thought he had a good game tonight."
On missing Joevin Jones and potentially Jeff Larentowicz for the Houston match
"It was a tough turn around, but Houston is playing as well tonight. It is just an injury problem and it does weaken you a little bit. Again, our guys got through this game tonight and do we play particularly well at times? Probably not. But did we do good stuff going forward and were dangerous? Yes we did, and I think and hope this is the turning point. So we can come out with a good result on Friday, it's a tough game, but we will just see how we are tomorrow. We will see how Lovel and Jeff are, and both David and Shaun are definitely out. Lovel is a slight risk with coming off with an injury but it is what it is. It's a squad game and we have lost four in row in our league play, which is not good. So we got to go down there and try to get a result and then look forward to the next few games we have at home."
On facing Orlando City in the next round
"I think the context of it, you're playing against players you don't really know. I felt they came out pretty strong and energetic and did well for 30 minutes. Its always that way, its very easy to sit and say we should win 4-0 because we are a MLS team and they are USL but they beat New England away and they are not bad. They proved that tonight, they had some good chances but we had the better of clear cut chances but it was still a dangerous game. We've just got to get our guys back on the field and look forward to the next game versus Orlando, which I am looking forward to. It's a great tradition of this club to do well in the Open Cup and I am no different to that. I want to do well for the club, the fans, and everyone involved and do well in this competition."
On looking towards the next transfer window
"It is still undecided in how it is going to look, and we are still waiting on the final makeup of how that sort of mechanism is going to work to have players. I can't really comment on what is going to happen but we are actively looking and it is nice to have Mike and Patrick back, those two spots are covered in the attacking core. So, we will look at it closely and we will have a meeting tomorrow and go over our wants, needs and hopes and the list of players we have targeted in different spots and see what we come up with."
Mike Magee, Chicago Fire Forward
On scoring twice upon his first start of the season
"The first goal was great, and tying the game in the first half is not all that glorious. But in the second half, I'm ten times happier to see Pat on the field, first of all. Then, for him to give me a lay-up, it feels pretty similar to how it was two years ago, when we had that great run. He's brilliant over there, and for some reason, he always seems to give me the easy goal. So, thanks, Pat Nyarko."
On playing a full 90 minutes
"That was huge. Adrian Lamb, our fitness guy, many people haven't seen the work we've done together, and more importantly, the work he made me do. Probably half the time, if I was trying to quit, or trying to give him a better idea of what I thought I should do, which was half of what he had planned for me...if it weren't for him, I probably wouldn't be playing tonight, let alone finishing 90 and playing well."
On being named captain for the match
"When you wear the captain's armband, you feel a sense of pride that's kind of hard to describe. Jeff's an incredible captain, so I'm in good company when I put it on, but it's a surreal feeling, especially for your hometown club."
On the victory serving as spark for the rest of the season
"I hope so. There was definitely something a little different in the group tonight, the way we got after it. We kind of had the sense after the game, and even before the game, that we were ready to fight for each other. First of all, we need to get everyone healthy and on the field; once that happens, I truly believe the sky's the limit."
Patrick Nyarko, Chicago Fire Midfielder
On returning from injury
"It feels good. It's been a long road. All the rehab, all the tough days waking up and trying to get back. Once again, I appreciate the patience of the club, waiting up on me, being patient with me to take as long as I can to come back stronger. I still think I have a little bit to go to get in tip-top shape, but it's a good start. I think the guys worked their ass off today to get us the win, and I'm glad to win."
On his first touch leading to goal
"I'm not quite that good, but surprisingly, me and Mike [Magee] had talked about it; the celebration was going to be, he was just going to tackle me, and I was just going to run off, out of the tunnel, but I think it didn't come to that yet. But we definitely talked about me coming in and setting him up for a goal, for sure."
On his and Mike Magee's return serving as a spark
"Surprisingly, I think we've been okay. It hasn't been as bad as the results or the positioning in the league table seem to suggest. We've been in games, we've been in leads, we've given up leads and stuff like that. I think we just have that edge to win games, and everyone needs to learn how to win games, it becomes a habit. I think the results haven't been there, but I believe in us. As you guys might know, we've had some slow starts here in the past, and besides last year, we've actually kind of picked it up towards the middle of the season, towards the end of the season. So, I'm hoping for that. Obviously, Mike was a huge loss, and now he's back; look at what he did today. I think we're going to count on him, he's delivered for us, and he will keep delivering for us."
On the emotional meaning of his return from injury
"Like I said, I just appreciate the patience the club and the fans have had. They deserve better for all the support they've given us even in the bad times. Mike is a huge part of the club, he's going to lift us big time; I'm going to chip in and do the work I do, and hopefully it turns around. I think all the guys are on the right path; it's just that little bit, the young guys learning how to win in this league, it'll be a huge boost in the second part of this season."
Patrick Nyarko expected to be pretty good in his debut appearance in the 2015 season. Just “not quite that good,” he said.
After an absence of over eight months while recovering from a knee injury, the 29-year-old Ghanaian winger came on as a 77th-minute substitute Tuesday in U.S. Open Cup action against Charlotte Independence. It was the 201st appearance in a Fire shirt across all competitions for Nyarko -- the longest tenured player on the current roster -- and it's likely one that will feature prominently in his memory whenever his professional playing days are over.
About five minutes after stepping onto the field, he made his first touch one to remember, splitting two defenders before setting up Mike Magee perfectly for Magee's second goal of the game.
With that moment came the rush of emotions typical of a long process now nearing completion. He harbors a great deal of gratitude for the coaching staff, the supporters and the club as a whole for sticking by him through it all. Though Nyarko is still not back to full fitness, the tallest mountain has been climbed. He had come full circle since posting an assist in his last previous appearance on Oct. 18, 2014.
“All the tough days waking up and trying to get back,” he said, “you appreciate the patience of the club waiting up on me, being patient with me to take as long as I can to come back and come back stronger.”
He and Magee had talked about this moment. They had both returned from lengthy injury absences and wanted to make their mark. The plan was for Nyarko to set up Magee for a goal, and that plan came to fruition.
The celebration, on the other hand, didn’t go as scripted. Magee was supposed to tackle Nyarko, who would then get up and take off for the tunnel. Instead, Magee picked his counterpart up and carried him about 10 yards before teammates mobbed them.
Close enough. It didn’t take away from the beauty of Nyarko’s return. And it seemed like a fair reward for months of hard work just to get back on the pitch.
“It feels good,” Nyarko said. “It’s been a long road.”
“We’re forever looking.”
When asked about potential roster moves, that tends to be the go-to response for Chicago Fire head coach and director of soccer Frank Yallop. He and his staff are always on the search players who may make for proper additions to the club, now or sometime down the line.
He feels like he (re)discovered one Friday in the acquisition of defender Ty Harden from the San Jose Earthquakes in exchange for forward Quincy Amarikwa. Yallop was responsible for drafting Harden to the LA Galaxy in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft (23rd overall), and also worked with the defender in San Jose in 2013 before Yallop’s move to the Windy City.
“Ty’s a centerback; I felt we needed another centerback,” Yallop said. “I just felt that the timing was OK for us. Quincy’s been here a while, so it’s never nice losing anyone like that. But it’s sports, and like I said to the group and to Quincy himself, sometimes you’ve got to change things to try to spark or make a difference –- and just a small difference –- in our fortunes and our setup. I thought it was a move we needed to make, so it was done.”
Apart from the on-field tactics of the move, Yallop also wanted to create cap space to be used during the league’s secondary transfer window (which goes from July 8 to August 6) or at some other point. No specific positional needs were noted, but he said “it gives us more room and more money to get a higher quality individual.”
The Fire have filled their three allotted Designated Player spots with David Accam, Kennedy Igboananike and Shaun Maloney, about whom Yallop said, “We’re committed to those guys.” Apart from that, he’s open to any possibilities.
“We’d be interested in any player that’s got quality,” Yallop said, adding that, “We’re forever looking.”
LISTEN: Frank Yallop on Transfer Window Targets
The annual Chicago Pride Parade is always one of the most celebratory and festive events of the year, but the 2015 edition took on extra meaning following Friday's landmark Supreme Court ruling to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the United States. Just four days after hosting Pride Night at Toyota Park, representatives from the Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Section 8 Chicago were on hand Sunday to join the estimated one million revelers on the city's North Side. A big thank you to all the supporters who contributed to a day (and week) to remember!
— Joel Biden (@JoelBiden) June 28, 2015
— kornkid15 (@kornkid15) June 28, 2015
Frank Yallop, Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer
Thoughts on the match
“Obviously not a good result for us. I think the guys gave everything they had, that is an important thing for me. The quality in the end and the final third wasn’t quite there. And we got done with it, with a terrific goal. Not a loss for words but that one hurt again but our guys tried their best. I don’t make excuses but I thought we did enough to at least get a tie or a win but we didn’t. We didn’t have a final touch that is what cost us. Obviously a great goal by Doyle.”
On why it’s been difficult to win in this stretch of games
“I don’t know, I mean we are putting all our efforts into it. I think maybe having a few guys out in a time we kind of need them the most, I think hurts a little bit. Maybe if it’s meant to be it’s meant to be. I don’t know, I am trying my best to turn it around. We have added some really talented players. Again I will go back to the work ethic, maybe it wasn’t there some of the games and we have let our foot off the gas in this season. We should be good enough to win games. We work hard in the training field, the guys are committed it seems, you don’t know if it really is real deep within them, but I think it is. I have been around awhile, I kind of feel for the guys right now. They are trying their best and I though tonight was a good effort. With endeavor and triumph and you can live with that. If it is just a lack of quality here, not quality but lack of final third play. I thought we defended pretty well most of the night and get with a wonder strike if you like. I don’t know, I have only been here for a year and half and you guys have been here for a little bit. We got to keep going and I feel like we have enough talent on the roster to get it going, once we get everyone healthy and feel better. If, buts, and maybes don’t get is done.”
On pulling Joevin Jones at halftime
“No, he was ill. So he was ill before the game and he said at halftime he couldn’t finish the game. So we had to pull him out, which another good player was coming out of the lineup. Maybe he didn’t play particular well the first half, usually kind of gets himself going but he was ill.”
On not using all three substitutions
“I just felt we were getting close to scoring to be honest. I thought we were going to get something out of the game. I wanted to leave the momentum and leaving Guly back, he did a decent job with his passing. He definitely tried very hard tonight in that spot and Mike looked dangerous and I thought that was good. I thought Kennedy was doing well and so sometimes you don’t want to throw all the forwards on. I felt like we were going to get something out of the game and it wasn’t to be tonight, obviously. Again, it wasn’t a lack of effort from our guys. The coaching staff is trying their best to right the ship obviously. We are doing the best we can with what we have but I think we still could have gotten something out of the game tonight. It was just disappointing for our group.”
On the challenges of his position
“The results are showing that. No, I mean, I like a challenge. I think that this is certainly a challenge. I feel that it is not only changing certain players in and out. It is trying to get a team to work together and gel and really do well. I think that is the hardest thing. For example, D.C. is a group that sort of grinds through everything, they got some talent obviously but don’t get flustered with whatever happens in the match. I think they had one header and the goal. I don’t know what the stats were and they didn’t have a ton of chances but that didn’t really matter to them. Our group seems like they need a lot of the chances to get one goal. I think we didn’t create enough to get that one goal tonight. But I think it is just a matter of building a group that can win no matter what. That is the hardest thing in sports, is getting the right chemistry and the right balance. I feel like the group we have right now, and maybe adding a few pieces to it is going to be good. But obviously time runs out in the season and we need to start to win and I will be under pressure if we don’t win. But I don’t give up and I keep going and in the end I usually get the group to go in the right direction. I am very determined to do that here because I feel for the fans first and foremost and the people who work for the club, and the owner. He wants to do well and has given everything in his resources to help me. It was a shame we didn’t have our guys on the field tonight but hopeful we will get healthy soon. And will start to put on the team I felt that is going to do pretty well in the league. Again, the game just slipped them by and in this league it is hard to catch up. But it won’t be from lack of trying from our players and the coaching staff and the staff.”
On teams scoring off set plays or off rebounds
“It seems to fall to their guys but you got to give them credit in that spot, to hit that shot. Sometimes your fortunate sometime you’re not. We have worked on set plays for a while and I thought Eric did a great block on the shot that got deflected on. And it goes to straight to one of their players which is Doyle and he is a great striker and anticipating where it is going to end up is the hardest part in soccer. You try to think about where it is going to end up, but it ends up in a good spot, rolling back to a fellow who can strike a good ball and goes in. It’s probably the best goal he is going to score and I think tonight that was one of the better goals we have seen here. It is just frustrating when that happens, it would be nice for one of those to go in for us. Then we can get the ball rolling and the effort from the group tonight was there. We didn’t want to lose the game, the fellows gave me everything they have, they give themselves and the team, the club, and the fans a right good go trying to win the game. We might not have the final touch and final bit of play in the final third to win the match but that happens sometimes. Especially when you have a loss of confidence, we have lost four in a row now before this game is was three in a row. You get down on yourself for a little bit but again the guys did shrug all the emotion of from losing three and gave everything they have. Things happen to you when you are down there, it doesn’t seem to go your way. We will keep fighting and keep going; hopefully we can get some wins in and climb up the table pretty soon.”
Jeff Larentowicz, Chicago Fire Defender and Captain
On the match
"Certainly, the one goal did us in. I think the performance was good, I thought that for large parts of the game we were the better team. I thought we had more of the ball; I think we created more chances, I'm not sure if that's true, but it felt that way. It's about taking one chance, and they did that."
On the team’s morale
"It's difficult, but that's the job. We're 15 games into the year, and that means we have 19 left. There's plenty of time to turn things around, and everyone has to work. I think that, more than anything, we feel like we deserved something tonight. It's not a game where you get beaten down 3-0, and you just feel like you need go home with your tail between your legs. It's kind of, maybe we're on to something, but we're just not getting it all the way there."
On D.C. United’s goal
"The last two weeks, we've had some pretty good goals scored on us. But like I said, in that moment, they take it. That's skill, that's talent. Good goal, and you can't say anything more than that, they took a chance."
On the play of D.C. United
"DC is an organized team, for sure. They've been together for a couple years now, having success doing what they do. I think they have a group of guys that compete, very smart, organized tactically. When they feel pressure, they're able to stand up to it. Late on in the game, they bring another forward on as well to try and win the game, but they end up winning on a rebound and restart. They're a good team, they're at the top of the league for a reason, and I think you can see why."
On reaching a turning point in the season
"I don't think it's ever too late. You look at 2013, things turn around, it's possible. The Revolution went to the final last year losing seven straight, I think, at one point. So you have to find a way to keep the morale up. I think that having good players in the lineup is good; however, I think that we had good performances tonight and didn't get the result."
On the trajectory of the season
"It is surprising. At 3-3, we felt like we were in a pretty good spot. We're competing with teams in the league that are good teams. I thought that we've been playing well at home. That's kind of turned a bit; losing a couple at home, still not finding a way to win on the road, that's going to hurt you in the long run. We have to get tougher on the road, and obviously take advantage of home games."
The Chicago Fire Academy U-18 squad made it two wins in two to open Group F play at this week’s U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs in Westfield, Ind.
The U-18 squad, seeded No. 15 in the USSDA playoffs as the champions of the Central Conference’s Mid-America Division, opened play Tuesday with a 2-0 victory over Sporting KC, receiving goals from a tandem of U.S. youth internationals. The Fire seized a late lead with an 86th-minute goal by Mauricio Pineda and iced the win when Cameron Lindley tallied four minutes later.
The U-18s were right back to action Wednesday morning and posted a 1-0 win over New York City-based BW Gottschee Academy. Djordje Mihalovic provided the match-winner in the 43rd minute.
The Fire round out group play Friday at 8 a.m. CT against the New York Red Bulls, the No. 4 overall seed in the event and the first-place team out of the East Conference’s Atlantic Division. The Red Bulls defeated BW Gottschee, 4-0, in its first game, before falling to Sporting KC, 1-0, Wednesday afternoon.
The Chicago Fire Academy team is among 32 clubs competing in the U-18 age group playoffs this week in Westfield. The top team from each of eight groups move on to a single-game knockout round held July 7-8 at the higher-seed’s home facility. From there, four winners move on to the Academy Championship games July 16-18 in Carson, Calif.
Also on Tuesday, the Chicago Fire U-16 squad scored a 1-0 victory against the Colorado Rush, bouncing back from a defeat by the same score Monday against Montreal Impact FC. Vitalis Takawira Jr.’s goal in the ninth minute stood up against the Rush, giving the Fire a split of their two matches at the National Showcase.
The Chicago Fire U-14s participated in the inaugural U.S. Soccer-sponsored National Showcase at that age level over the weekend, falling in a trio of matches against Chivas USA, Orlando City SC and FC Dallas Academies.
Chicago Fire Academy at USSDA Playoffs/National Showcase
Tuesday, June 23 -- Chicago Fire 2:0 Sporting KC
Wednesday, June 24 -- Chicago Fire 1:0 BW Gottschee Academy
Friday, June 26 -- Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls (8 a.m. CT)
Monday, June 22 -- Chicago Fire 0:1 Montreal Impact FC
Tuesday, June 23 -- Chicago Fire 1:0 Colorado Rush
Friday, June 19 -- Chicago Fire 1:5 Chivas USA
Saturday, June 20 -- Chicago Fire 0:2 Orlando City SC
Monday, June 22 -- Chicago Fire 1:3 FC Dallas
Frank Yallop, Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer
On the status of Shaun Maloney
“He had slight back spasms. Probably didn’t want to play him tonight but with the lack of guys we had available, we weren’t playing particularly well and didn’t look dangerous. But obviously with the trip he had, he had a long trip and I hope it is just spasms. When he settles down he should be okay.”
On the match
“I think Quincy had a great look first half. I think we pressed the fellow in the back and he coughed it up straight to Quincy, should have scored. I think it makes a difference in the match then but doesn’t. So from that, he has a few more chances, I think and doesn’t really bury them. But I will say one thing he kept going. He got his goal in the end, and that wasn’t pretty. When you play everyone who doesn’t play a lot of minutes and you put it all together. This doesn’t always come out well, we kept going. We won the game and we are into the next round. I’ve got to take the positive and that was, we kept going, we kept fighting, we kept pushing. I know the team we are playing against is a lower league team but I think with the guys we had missing and what we did on Saturday, it was a hard match for us and I think we obviously did enough to win.”
On league standings influencing Open Cup performance
“We want to do well in both tournaments, both the league and the cup. We’ve just got to sort out our league, play out. We are in 9th position but we are three points behind. We know we have a bit to do to catch up but I think the Orlando game is what really hurt us, as a club. Going to New England without a few guys, is always a tough game. I think the Orlando one is the one I am more disappointed with and didn’t win. Just need to stay in the pack and once everyone gets back from international duties. Hopefully we can straight to re gel as team. Obviously learn to win and be better, that’s the plan.”
On utilizing Matt Polster as a centerback
“He was good. Yeah, I think he was solid and we only played against one striker, Matt Fondy, who played very well and he runs hard. I thought he handled it well. They had some good situations and we could have a final ball better, that wasn’t to be. But I think Matt did fine, he thought he did adequate after playing on the weekend. I think he did okay.”
On the play of Quincy Amarikwa
“Great, I said to him as he was lying on the field getting work done, ‘you know you kept going but you missed some chances, but you kept going and you got the goal to win it for us.’ I was proud of him and I think he did great. I challenged him at half time. I didn’t think our first half was up to standards for a team trying to win the cup. This is round one but you trying to win a trophy. And I thought we were sleep walking through it and not applying ourselves. And I told him that. I think a saw a response, not in our general play but in our desire. It showed in the end, we did keep going. We did get the goal, is what we wanted in the end now. The result is all that matters.”
On taking the positives from the match and looking ahead
“I mean, getting all our players back and healthy. Getting them all on the field together. I wouldn’t judge us, we have six guys out; Mike and Patrick haven’t seen a lot of the field yet. So I am excited when we get everyone healthy and what were are going to look like. I think we obviously problems at the back, when I say the back I mean defending. It is not just the defenders it is everybody. It was nice to get a clean sheet tonight; forget the opposition. I am excited about the prospect of this team, it is an exciting team. I talked before; we wanted to make it a team that was good to watch. I don’t think you can judge us on that tonight, a lot of guys out, a lot of exciting players out. Shaun coming back not ready to go but we need to pick up point in the league.”
On Sean Johnson’s return to goal
“I thought he was good tonight, he was solid and focused. He look assured of himself in goal. I will obviously analyze it and make a decision. I thought Sean did well tonight.”
Quincy Amarikwa, Chicago Fire Forward
On the mentality during a long match
"We knew they would come to grind out a result, we knew they were going to be in it for the long haul. That's what happens in these Open Cup games. They're scrappy, the other team is looking for something to prove, and it just makes it hard to break down. We knew all we really had to do was keep going, and eventually, we'd break through. You're confident in your own abilities, you're confident in your teammates, you know what you're capable of doing. You keep doing the right things, and eventually you're going to break through. That's how we felt about it, and we knew that it would just be a matter of time before we got through, and we would end it."
On the win
"Anytime you can win, it's a positive. That's what you're trying to do every time you step on the field, regardless of if it's a league game, or a cup game, exhibition, practice; every win matters, and every win contributes to confidence for players individually, and for your team. I think we're happy to get away with a win here, and we're looking forward to carrying the momentum into the next match."
On building confidence
"That's what goals do: goals give you confidence. Winning games gives you confidence. What you try to do is take that confidence in that next game and build upon it. Learn from the mistakes throughout the game, and see how you can improve come next week."
On Coach Frank Yallop's advice during halftime
"He thought we could be doing better in pushing the envelope a bit more. I think as a team, we were being calculating; we didn't want to throw everything at them too early, and then struggle to find answers later in the game. As a team, we buckled in and continued doing what we were doing in the first half, but looked a little bit more to get in behind."
On match fitness
"That was my first 120-minute game in a long time, and my first 90-minute game in a month and a half or two months. No matter how much you run in training or how much you train, it's not the same as match fitness. I did the best to run as much as I could to gain as much match fitness as I could today, and I'm hoping that translates into more minutes down the road."
On scoring his first competitive goal of the season
"That's the name of the game: you create enough chances, and you take enough shots on goal, eventually you'll score. That was the mentality going into the game. I've been looking to break through for a while now, and it's nice to get the monkey off your back. It's just a matter of continuing to not let the misses keep you from taking your next chance."