This week we talk with Sean Spence of Hot Time in Old Town, SB Nation's Chicago Fire blog, about the upcoming match between the Fire and the Philadelphia Union.
tBG) The Chicago Fire have undergone some pretty dramatic lineup changes since last season. Is the slow start the club has gotten off to in 2015 due to the club not gelling as much as necessary, or are people starting to second guess some of the personnel moves?
The speculation is over. Frank Yallop got his man. Shaun Maloney was one of the first players targeted as a possible addition during Yallop's post season scouting mission and after a long courtship the deal is done. A source has confirmed to Fire Confidential, a BBC reportthis morning that Chicago and Wigan have agreed to a transfer fee for the player.
With 2014 mercifully over Fire fans can start looking forward to a new season which officially begins in a few weeks when players report for physicals on January 25. The squad will look much different in 2015 with new Designated Players David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike in the fold but Frank Yallop and company still have work to do to fill out the roster between now and the end of January.
Both Sean Johnson and David Accam participated in full training yesterday morning. Frank Yallop told reporters in his weekly conference call that he won't rush Accam back and will continue to monitor his progress in practice this week before deciding on his status for the upcoming San Jose game. Joevin Jones started in left midfield against the Whitecaps and played well enough to possibly get other looks when Accam isn't available.
Frank Yallop met with local media this afternoon to discuss the opening night loss in Los Angeles and the upcoming home opener against the Vancouver Whitecaps. He discussed an array of topics including injuries, style of play, and the salary budget ramifications of the new CBA. Here's the rundown: On injuries David Accam has resumed training although it's only light work right now.
The Fire played to a 0-0 draw with Bob Bradley's Stabaek IF but the bigger story on the night is injuries. David Accam finally made his debut with the team after missing the first phase of camp on national team duty but left the match in the 62nd minute with an apparent injury just before he was about to be subbed off.
Frank Yallop got his man this time. The Fire are very high on 24 year old Ghanaian forward David Accam who signed with the club as a Designated Player. Accam had other options with Premier League clubs reportedly pursuing his signature but chose to come to Chicago and MLS based on meetings with Yallop this winter.
This is certainly not the start that Frank Yallop was looking for and definitely not one that the Fire can afford. The inability to take advantage of anything at home coupled with late defensive lapses was of major concern last season and this home opener did nothing to assure anyone that those struggles have been left behind.
Reports across the pond indicate that Leicester City has secured a deal with Wigan for the services of midfielder Shaun Maloney but Frank Yallop isn't closing the door on the Fire's chances to acquire him just yet. Yallop told reporters during a conference call Wednesday afternoon that the Fire still believe they are in play for Maloney.
Leicester City's reported offer of just over $1.1 million USD to Wigan for Scottish midfielder Shaun Maloney was turned down last week and interest from Everton and Cetlic haven't kept the Fire from remaining optimistic that they can secure his signature this January. Despite reports that Maloney prefers to stay in England it appears that he is very receptive to playing in the United States and the Fire currently have the best offer on the table.
It's been a busy week for the Fire. First word of CJ Brown's departure came Monday, followed by a DP signing in Kennedy Igboananike yesterday, and now Frank Yallop has apparently filled one of the missing pieces in the back line with the addition of left back Joevin Jones. The Trinidad & Tobago international has been capped 37 times by his national team and most recently completed a loan spell with Finish first division club HJK Helsinki.
This has been a rough season for the Chicago Fire and the year appears to be closing with more bad news. The Daily Herald reported this morning that lead assistant CJ Brown is leaving the club to accept a coaching position with expansion team New York City FC. Brown, a 2012 Ring of Fire inductee is immensely popular among the Fire's fan base and this news is certain not to go over well.
This match seemed destined for yet another draw before Sporting Kansas City struck twice in the last ten minutes to hand the Fire their ninth defeat of the season. During this odd record-breaking trek, the Fire's 18 deadlocks easily surpasses the total of the next closest club in terms of ties (Vancouver has 13) but the nine losses are tied with DC United and New York for the fewest defeats in the Eastern Conference.
With the ninth and tenth place teams in the Eastern Conference facing each other nobody expected this match to be much to look at. The Fire and Impact lived up to their billing as bottom dwellers in the conference with a 0-0 draw that essentially encapsulated Chicago's entire season in one 90 minute snoozer.
Harry shares the sports memorabilia in his old house. (via Chipotle's Being Homegrown)
Near the end of the Fire's third loss in a rowlast Saturday, Alexi Lalas doubled-down on his flattery of second year stand-out Harry Shipp by suggesting thathewas the Fire's only "real" DP, and further stating thatHarry may be"Too Good" to play for Chicago.
The Fire and Vancouver Whitecaps played to a 1-1 draw thanks to a late tying goal from trialist Shahdon Winchester leaving the team with a 1-0-4 preseason record. Draws in practice matches aren't a big concern and Frank Yallop is fairly happy with the team's progress going into the start of the season.
The third draw in four preseason matches may raise some eyebrows after last season's record breaking number of ties but Frank Yallop was happier with the performance in this match than he was after Sunday's draw against Stabaek."I thought the performance was very good in all departments," said Yallop after the match.
Quincy's Amarikwa's 15th minute goal held up to give the Fire a 1-0 win over Premier League side Queens Park Rangers this morning. The goal was set up via a combination play with Shaun Maloney and Harry Shipp. Those three players led the attack in Frank Yallop's 4-3-3 with the middle three also looking a little bit different than they did last week against Norwich City.
As a San Jose native, the earthquakes team and I have a personal relationship. Frank Yallop, San Jose's former coach and 2012 MLS coach of the year, lived accross the street from me and we would converse often. One day, I went outside, saw a property for sale sign, and discovered the earthquakes were making management changes.
The Fire arrived in the United Kingdom this morning after a seven hour delay due to weather. The team spent the first week of preseason training locally at the Bridgeview Sports Dome and the Private Bank Fire Pitch. They'll practice at Norwich City's Colney Training Centre from February 2-10 with a match against their hosts sandwiched in on the 5th.
During the Section 8 Chicago/ISA's Annual General meeting this past weekend Fire brass updated supporters on a variety of topics during a Q&A session. Here's a quick rundown of the highlights for those that were not in attendance:
Frank Yallop, Brian Bliss, Atul Khosla, and Logan Pause all participated in the Q&A session.
The Fire selected 7th and 28th in today's annual MLS "SuperDraft" and came away with two additions that have been been playing relatively close to what could be their professional home. Matt Polster is a 6'-0" defender from Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville who made three appearances with the Fire PDL squad last year.
Frank Yallop met media yesterday to discuss the final days of post-season training and the team's plans going into 2015. Players will conclude training this week and sit with the technical staff today and tomorrow at which time decisions for options and renewals will be discussed. After a disappointing season, Yallop said that moves can be expected but stopped just short of saying that wholesale roster changes would be made.
A switch to a more attack minded 4-3-3 formation didn't change the results and didn't provide any more offensively than the Fire have been able to generate over the last few weeks. A few isolated chances in an otherwise drab performance in Houston resulted in Chicago's eighth loss of the season. The record breaking 17th draw will have to wait but the Fire have five more chances to claim it.
TFC learns the "Hack-a-Quincy" strategy works with Canadian Refstoo.(Photo via MLSsoccer.com)
So this is how CF97's season looks to end, not with a bang but a whisper. OTF's Brian Howe Battle chooses to wallow on a larger scalethan just the most recent Fire draw.
Fall nears, and with it comes the familiar signs of autumn — brisk winds, colder shadows, the re-introduction of the dominant American sport of Football, and the beginning of the English Premiere League.
With the Fire on their way to breaking their own record for draws in a season, the sober reality that playoff hopes are all but extinguished seems to be taking hold. "Usually, you find a ways to lose matches as a group, as a lot of coaches say, but we find ways to tie matches, when we should be winning them," said Frank Yallop after the match.