With a fresh start under the direction of new head coach Frank Yallop, the Men In Red opened 2014 with a road defeat at Chivas USA before beginning what proved to be a trend for the campaign, drawing their next six matches.
The club’s first victory over the season came in exhilarating fashion, a wild 5-4 affair over the New York Red Bulls in Harrison, N.J. It was in that game that Homegrown rookie midfielder Harry Shipp burst onto the Major League Soccer scene, impressing even himself with a hat trick as the Fire protected their 5-2 lead despite New York’s best efforts to draw level in the dying moments.
Chicago followed that up with a 2-1 home win over Sporting KC on May 18 thanks to a first-half brace by reigning MVP Mike Magee. That, however, turned out to be Chicago’s last MLS win until June 25 vs. Columbus.
The Fire’s Open Cup campaign began with a rain-shortened 2-1 home defeat of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and continued with a hotly contested road victory over the Atlanta Silverbacks.
On July 23, Frank Yallop received a rude ‘welcome back’ in his return to the club he enjoyed so much success with, the San Jose Earthquakes, as the Quakes dealt Chicago a dispiriting 5-1 loss.
But following an international friendly vs. Tottenham Hotspur, the Fire collected five points from their next three matches to build momentum ahead of a U.S. Open Cup semifinal at Seattle Sounders FC. Like the Quakes match, this West Coast trip also had a disappointing result in store, as the Sounders turned a 2-0 halftime lead into a 6-0 blowout.
A 2-0 win over FC Dallas on Aug. 30 notwithstanding, wins were hard to come by down the stretch for Yallop’s side as Chicago found itself establishing a new single-season MLS draws record with 18. Mike Magee’s injury-ridden season came to an end with the Sept. 9 news of surgery, while Patrick Nyarko also saw his challenging campaign come to a frustrating close when he tore his ACL at DC United on Oct. 18.
Despite their standing in the table, the club ended its season in celebration, saying goodbye to longtime midfielder and former captain Logan Pause, who played his final professional game on Oct. 24 after 12 remarkable seasons with the Men In Red. A header late on by Florent Sinama-Pongolle brought a happy ending to an emotional night as Chicago downed the Houston Dynamo, 2-1, at Toyota Park.
Forward Quincy Amarikwa’s eight goals earned him the club’s Golden Boot award, while Sean Johnson was tabbed both the Most Valuable Player and the Defensive Player of the Year in his fifth season with the club. With seven goals and six assists, Harry Shipp earned a rightful place among the MLS Rookie of the Year finalists.