Patrick Nyarko looks to get stronger amid reckless MLS challenges
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Patrick Nyarko has likely been the most consistent performer for the Chicago Fire this season. Despite the team’s rough start, he’s also been one of the locker room’s consistent voices in saying the side is capable of much more than their 2-7-1 beginning this season.
“The start has been disappointing,” he told Chicago-Fire.com. “I’ve said and I’ll keep saying it again, I believe we can turn this around. The first 10 games are out of the way and you move on to the next phase.”
Nyarko’s shift up top two weeks ago against Philadelphia seemed to provide a spark in the team’s attack. The Ghanaian hit the post and provided several dangerous runs to put the Union on their back foot for much of the match.
In the team’s visit to Philadelphia last week, he was again dangerous but over the course of both matches, the side couldn’t convert any of their 22 chances.
Despite the difficulty finishing, the team felt they did enough to earn a point after Sherjill MacDonald was pulled down in the box in the 73rd minute of their 1-0 loss in Philadelphia.
Down to 10 men, a penalty call and conversion would have given the Fire a valuable draw on the road.
Despite that, Nyarko remains positive given the team continues to create chances.
“We go on a run and we’re right back into it,” he said. “I might be disappointed with the results but what is done is done. We just need to focus on what’s up next and how we can make it better. I believe we have the team to turn it around, we all just need to sit down, reminisce on the past 10 games and focus on the next ones.”
Nyarko’s positivity is refreshing in the face of the amount of fouls he takes.
The Ghanaian suffered a game-high six fouls in Saturday’s defeat at Philadelphia and drew two yellow cards on Brian Carroll in the 56th minute and Conor Casey in second half stoppage time.
In the latter case, Casey crunched Nyarko with a reckless two-footed tackle at midfield that many considered worthy of a red card.
Nyarko was the most fouled player in MLS last season and sits behind just David Ferreira (35) and Eddie Gaven (32) with 29 fouls suffered, though he’s played less minutes than both.
Casey’s yellow was the sixth the Ghanaian has drawn this season and it often seems at times referees aren’t doing enough to protect a player that is being targeted time and again.
Despite that, Nyarko has come to terms with the brutal treatment he receives at times.
“I’m alright. I’ve been getting better as the season goes along. I’ve just accepted the tackles are going to keep coming. It’s a matter of me getting stronger in the weight room so as to keep taking those beatings. Health wise the last couple weeks are the best I’ve felt in a while.”