TUCSON -- The Chicago Fire moved to 5-0-0 in the team’s 2014 preseason campaign with a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids in their opening match of the Desert Diamond Cup.
Head Coach Frank Yallop admittedly approached the match with a view of giving his second team and trialists an extended period of time against quality opposition. Just like they have in previous games this preseason, the Fire showed their dominance using a beauty in the 37th minute from trialist Grant Ward and a 40th minute tap-in from Quincy Amarikwa to earn the 2-1 win.
“I thought we played very well for the first 60 minutes,” Yallop told Chicago-Fire.com post-game. “This time of the preseason it’s about getting fit and getting minutes. I thought the young guys really performed well and we probably could have been up 3-0 at halftime.”
While only 16 Fire players dressed for the game, the Rapids split up a majority of their starters into two different 11’s. After the hour mark Colorado’s fresher legs began to take the game to the young Fire side as they pulled one back through Gabriel Torres in the 68th minute.
Despite conceding their first goal in five matches, Yallop was pleased with how his side responded to a veteran Rapids side in closing out the 2-1 win.
“We held strong. They only had one goal and we could have crumbled but we didn’t. I think our mentality is good -- the will to win is there. We’re going to make mistakes here and there but if we do, we’re fighting hard to get back and rectify it. All in all I’m very happy with the squad at the moment and very pleased with the play as well.”
The talk of the day centered around trialist Grant Ward’s opening goal (WATCH) which looked more a cross from the right than an intentional shot. Ward, who bagged his second goal since joining the club two weeks ago in Bradenton, Fla., was adamant he meant to do it.
“It was a shot,” he joked. “I saw the keeper off his line so I thought ‘Why not go for it?’”
Whatever it was, the effort capped an impressive stint for the 19-year-old winger and with him heading back to North London on Thursday, raised questions of where a potential deal was to bring him on loan to the Fire in 2014.
“With Grant we’re hoping we can work something out with Tottenham to loan him at some point,” Yallop said. “He’s one of the young kids I focused in on when I was in the UK [this offseason]. He’s proven to be a very good young player and hopefully we can get that signed and done and he get join our squad.”
Ward made no secret that he’d like to call Chicago a temporary home this season.
“I think it’s been positive since I’ve been here,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed my time, everyone’s been nice to me and I’m just hoping I can get a loan and play some games.”
Yallop has said he will be giving about two-and-a-half games of the remaining three preseason matches to the first 11. That run begins Saturday as the Fire take on hosts FC Tucson at 2:00pm CT, live on Chicago-Fire.com.