Frank Yallop DL

Playoff hopes slim, Yallop and Fire not giving up heading into big week vs. Philadelphia, Montreal

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Two days after the Fire suffered a 2-0 loss to Houston, the side returned to Toyota Park for training on Tuesday ahead of a two-game, four day stretch this week.

It starts on Thursday when the Fire visit Philadelphia Union before returning home in short order for the club’s Anniversary Match vs. Montreal Impact on Sunday afternoon.

A loss in either match combined with New York or Toronto FC wins this weekend would see the Fire’s postseason hopes end. Sitting 10 points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with just five matches remaining, Fire head coach Frank Yallop refused to give up on the season but admitted Tuesday there is zero margin for error anymore.

“We’ve got to win all five games and maybe that’s not enough,” he told reporters. “It is what it is. We keep battling away, keep gearing up and getting ready for next season. There’s always a chance when there are points available.”

“If you look at the games, especially at home, the games we’ve not taken when we should have done better with the situations in those games, they come back to haunt you.”

There are a number of home matches Yallop could be talking about but no doubt two of them come against Thursday’s opponents Philadelphia. On April 5, the Fire used an 86th minute equalizer to come back from 2-1 down only to see Mike Magee’s 96th minute penalty kick saved by Zac MacMath.

On July 19, a controversial penalty kick call against Gonzalo Segares in second half stoppage time saw Sebastien Le Toux equalize in the 91st minute, dooming the Fire to a 1-1 draw with the Union.

“We needed to win games any way and we couldn’t find a way to do that,” Yallop said.

Asked if he would begin focusing on younger players in the final matches of the season, the first-year Fire head coach said, “We’ll see. There’s still a chance so we just have to pick a team that’s trying to win a game.”

Either way, Yallop and Technical Director Brian Bliss have had next season on their mind for a while.

“We have a lot of sorting out to do,” he said. “We feel there’s going to be some room in our cap, we should get some allocation money – it depends on where we finish. Again, I’m not giving up on this season because you can’t but we feel confident we’re going to get right guys in the right spots that are going to help us.”

Injuries, Returnees and Suspensions

  • Fire midfielder Razvan Cocis is likely out at least for the week after his face met the elbow of Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark in the ninth minute of Sunday’s game. The Romanian international soldiered on but was eventually replaced by Patrick Nyarko in the 28th minute.

    Asked about the Cocis injury on Tuesday, Yallop said, “The first x-ray is that he got a fracture. If it’s only a hairline he may be okay but we’re getting him checked out this morning. We’ll know more today or tomorrow morning.”
  • On Tuesday the Fire also saw 2013 MLS MVP Mike Magee return to Toyota Park for the first time since having hip surgery  in Colorado at the beginning of the month. Magee is expected to have a lengthy recovery time.
  • Suspended defenders Lovel Palmer and Bakary Soumare return to the fold after their one-match bans in Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Houston. Soumare, along with teammate Gonzalo Segares will still need to be careful this week as both are on caution watch ahead of the Philadelphia game. 
  • Fire assistant coach Clint Mathis will be suspended for Thursday’s match at Philadelphia after being sent off for leaving his technical area in Sunday’s game vs. Houston.
  • Finally, in what was supposed to be his first return to Toyota Park as the head coach of the Montreal Impact, former Fire head coach Frank Klopas will be unavailable from the touchline on Sunday after also being sent off in l’Impact’s 2-0 defeat at Columbus on Saturday night.