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Fire Refuse to Blame International Absences for Road Defeat

Harry Shipp refused to blame the Chicago Fire’s latest defeat on the absence of three key players because of international duty as the Men in Red fell to the New England Revolution Saturday, their third loss in a row.

The 2-0 reversal was tough on the Fire (4-8-2, 14 points) who were undone by a spectacular Diego Fagundez strike and a Charlie Davies header two minutes apart early in the second half. Frank Yallop’s men have now dropped to ninth spot in the MLS Eastern Conference.

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The visitors were without Designated Players David Accam and Shaun Maloney and attacking left back Joevin Jones, who were called up by Ghana, Scotland and Trinidad & Tobago, respectively.

“It’s tough, we’re missing guys, but we’re confident in the guys we have and it’s no excuse,” Shipp told reporters after the game. “When you’ve got a team of 26, 27 guys, you expect whoever’s here to be able to step in and do just as well the guys who are gone. It’s no excuse for us.

“It was a tough one,” added Shipp, who went close to opening the scoring with an early header. “I thought overall they did a better job at controlling tempo and a lot of the game was played in our own defensive half, which, eventually you’re probably going to give up goals if that’s the case. We created a couple of chances, could have snuck away with a tie, but all in all, we got outplayed.”

Yallop admitted his side need to be “a lot stronger and braver in both boxes” after conceding their eighth goal in three games, while only netting three themselves during that span.

“It seems to be the story of the season where we’ve played well enough to be in the game, doing the right things, mainly, getting chances, not taking them, and then have a spell of lax play when we’re soft and we’re off people and letting them play and the team punishes us,” Yallop said.

“It’s happened, actually all season, to be honest, other than in a couple of games,” he added. “It’s a real difficult one to put your finger on because it’s the whole team thing, but we’ve got to be a lot stronger and braver in both boxes, and that’s where the game in won and lost.”

The Fire have conceded 22 goals this campaign, with 15 of them coming in the second 45 minutes, although Yallop does not believe the halftime interruption should inspire a decline in performance in the second half.

“Halftime shouldn’t make a difference to the performance if you’re being professional,” he insisted. “I’ve been in this game a long time, it doesn’t make a difference. You’ve got to be ready for whatever they throw at you, you’ve got to be clued in and tuned in and we weren’t.

"You give a team with the firepower of New England, obviously they’ve got some good players, they’re going to punish you, and they did. It’s a set play, again, a good finish but we have guys running away from the danger area when they shouldn’t be. And leaving a guy like that [Fagundez] on the edge of the box with a free strike, he’s going to hit the target and he did. You’ve got to hand it to their finishing, they were pretty good tonight at what they did and ours was poor.”

Shane Murray covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com.