BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Mike Magee’s 37th minute penalty gave the Chicago Fire a 1-0 lead going into halftime of Saturday night’s home clash vs. the Columbus Crew but a miscue at the back mere seconds into the second half saw Federico Higuain equalize and the Fire settle for a 13th draw on the season.
“Right after halftime is the worst time [to concede] because the tactics you talk about three minutes earlier are useless,” Fire head coach Frank Yallop said in his post-game press conference. “Now you press the game and I don’t think it got in our guys mind to get urgent and get moving forward.
“We still had a couple of chances but I didn’t think our urgency -- and it’s not from lack of effort -- it’s more lack of knowledge of our urgency to try and win the game. I think we were trying to protect what we had and maybe going to see if we could win it. What I wanted was to see us go on and try and win it.”
The result moves the Fire to 3-5-13 on the season and Yallop jokingly asked reporters not to ask about another draw prior to the press conference.
The other news of the day regarding U.S. international midfielder Jermaine Jones reportedly turning down a two-and-a-half year, $6 million offer from the Fire allowed Yallop to take a different turn.
“I actually spoke with Jermaine yesterday and wanted to put forward our club and what we thought of him and that we’d like him to join us,” Yallop said. “He has an offer – it’s not officially turned down because we haven’t heard anything back so we’re still waiting. It was a big offer – [Fire owner] Andrew [Hauptman] stepped up and put out a good contract offer. He’s thinking about it and we’ll find out in the next couple of days.”
“He was receptive,” Yallop said about the conversation. “He wants to play in MLS and he’s coming from a big contract and I think that anytime you have that in your background, if you want to come and play somewhere you’ve got to commit yourself to do that. It’s maybe not as much money as you’d like but it’s the market value we have in this country.
“I think if he comes to the understanding that can work out – it’s a good offer, it’s pretty much up there for us and for the league. I’m hoping he thinks about it and takes it.”
The reported $2.3 million salary the Fire have offered Jones would make him the ninth highest paid player in Major League Soccer, according to current MLS Players Union salary figures.
With Jones being a free agent, he’s not bound to sign inside the MLS transfer window which closes Wednesday or the international window at the end of the month.
On Saturday, The Daily Herald’s Orrin Schwarz reported that Jones has an offer from a club in Qatar.
“Good players have options,” Yallop continued. “I said it to my staff earlier, we can sign bad players -- it’s easy. To sign good players is difficult because everyone wants them and that’s our issue. We’re trying to get the best players we can for the club, we obviously need help in certain areas."
Even if Jones doesn’t sign, the Fire reportedly have other things lined up at other positions as Schwarz reported Saturday the club is currently courting an Argentine forward that recently played in France.
“We’re always looking to improve the team,” Yallop said. “We have [the close of the] window coming up and we have one or two spots we can kind of focus on, it sometimes becomes who’s the best player? If we’re getting Jermaine Jones, we’ll take him, for sure. He makes us a lot better than we are. If we want to get a forward or attacking midfielder or whatever we want to try and do, we’ll take the best available.”
“We have interest in some players and I’m sure we’ll get something hopefully done in this window for sure.”
“I feel good about some targets we have right now in this window and moving forward in January. The end of the season will give us a little more scope to do some stuff too.”