PORTLAND, Ore. -- Following last week’s season opening defeat to Chivas USA, Frank Yallop said this week he may look to make changes to the Fire team he puts out Sunday at Portland (1:30pm CT on My50/TWCWI)
While it seems more likely that Benji Joya and Quincy Amarikwa could slot into the team, two other players that are pushing for a place in the 18 are the team’s newest acquisitions left back Greg Cochrane and midfielder Matt Watson.
Both acquired through trades with LA and Vancouver in the days leading up to the Chivas match, the pair were put in the unenviable position of spending an entire preseason with one team only to join a new one as the MLS campaign kicked off.
Despite the challenge of playing catch-up on a new style and system, Yallop has been happy with their adjustment to his squad.
“They’ve both done well in the short amount of time they’ve been with us,” he told Chicago-Fire.com. “Both players bring us depth in areas where we needed it and they've started to help us.”
A self-described box-to-box midfielder, Watson proved useful in a sort of utility role for Vancouver the past two seasons. Though he only began training with the team on Wednesday, the 29-year-old Englishman seems more likely of the new pair to see time with Chris Rolfe and Dilly Duka battling injuries.
(Greg Cochrane left; Matt Watson right; courtesy Leo Flores)
“The trade came as a bit of a shock to me,” Watson told Chicago-Fire.com this week. “But coming into camp, everyone seems really open and so you get on with it. The staff is pretty easy to talk to and they expect high standards. I haven’t been in with the team long but I feel ready to contribute.”
“Matt fits in, he’s a hard working kid that covers a lot of ground in midfield and you need those types of players to add to what we’re trying to do,” said Yallop.
If both Rolfe and Duka are unable to go Sunday, Watson could slot in to the midfield along with Joya.
Meanwhile, Cochrane’s appearance in the 18 last week vs. Chivas surprised some but perhaps it should have. The second-year MLS defender played in 12 regular season matches for the LA Galaxy during his rookie year and also got time for the club in CONCACAF Champions League play.
Yallop described Cochrane’s play since joining the team last Wednesday “confident and focused”.
At the very least, it seems the 23-year-old has the current leg up on the likes of Hunter Jumper and Marco Franco as the team’s full back option off the bench and will aim to challenge incumbent left back Gonzalo Segares for more time on the field.
“Whatever the coaches decide to do, that’s what I’m going to play,” said Cochrane. “I give my all every day in training with the thought that my number will get called. When it does, I’m going to be ready.”