OTF Roundtable: Chicago Fire Week Two
This week, OTF’s second group of roundtablers share what’s on their respective Chicago Fire minds…
“Would you rather have unlimited money, or impeccable taste?” I was once asked. It’s a good question, and one with a super easy answer: If you had enough money, you could pay someone to give you taste. Though, apparently, it doesn’t work the same way in soccer.
Former Fire Skipper Frank Klopas (along with his late front office pals), lacked the ability to develop skill, so he opted to buy a team he hoped could provide it for him. It didn’t. What remains of that roster is a list of veterans with excellent pedigrees (and bank accounts) but not that many results. New Fire skipper, Frank Yallop, is on the other side of the spectrum: He has a clear style and philosophy, but is handicapped with a limited budget, whose salary cap is hampering his ability to add new talent.
With the Fire payroll having tied one hand behind his back, Yallop has to choose his swings carefully; we’ve seen it go both ways so far. The veteran opening day lineup and subbing in of Logan Pause late at Chivas USA missed the mark, as did his subbing in of Patrick Nyarko in Portland. On the other hand, Yallop’s starting of newcomers Benji Joya, Matt Watson, and Harry Shipp against the Timbers was right on.
Yallop’s directness to the press, and vocalized expectations of his players is surely the right way to go. Results or no, it’s clearly a new era for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, and I can’t help but feel we’re headed, regardless of pace, in the right direction.
I’m pretty happy with the result gained in Portland. That place can be a madhouse (excluding Timber Joey – Douche), and to come out of there with anything is an accomplishment. I wasn’t able to watch the game, as I was in an airplane watching a countdown of the 101 greatest places to eat in America (Steamed cheeseburgers? Go to hell, Connecticut). However, Yallop’s changes to the starting XI gives me hope.
That said, using four new starters was far from a bold move (THIS IS A DIRECT SHOT AT YOU, ATUL KHOSLA) because benching bad players (THIS IS A DIRECT SHOT AT YOU, ANANGONO) and playing ones with promise is what a manager’s supposed to do. Do you get praised everytime you do your job? I didn’t think so. Nevertheless, last season, we had an obstinate manager who ran players into the ground — no matter the result — so Yallop’s willingness to be flexible is a positive step.
I’m excited about the home opener this weekend. I gave up my season tickets this year, but plan to attend a few matches. I’ll ride a beer bus (and hopefully the famed beer pot) to the game. I also believe this post officially takes me out of the running for “Responsible Fan of the Game.” Oh well, you can’t have it all in Fireland.
I don’t expect much of a result against the NEW JERSEY Red Bulls, but hey, not many of us expected anything against the Timbers either. Let’s hope for a big, loud turnout on Sunday, and hope that home support gives the Men in Red (and dark blue, light blue, and diamond pattern) an edge to beat the reigning Supporters Shield champs!
Words can’t describe how excited I was when I saw the starting XI against Portland. A willingness to start young players for a change is something the Fire desperately lacked last season, when their opponents knew exactly who they’d face from week to week.
Quincy Amarikwa was the Fire’s for the first 60 minutes or so. His athleticism and determination kept opening holes in the Timbers defense, including the one that allowed him through to draw the penalty. He is easily the biggest cause for hope this season.
Benji Joya and Harry Shipp aren’t far behind, but there were enough wild shots from outside the 18 to remind even the most optimistic fan they are, indeed, young.
The fact that Jeff Larentowicz made the biggest mistake of the match, and Patrick Nyarko managed two yellows as a sub, is disheartening, but other than that I think most of the Fire’s problems will work themselves out as the young players get more playing time.
There are a lot of players who haven’t had time to get into a rhythm, and a change in head coach is always going to create side effects, but I definitely feel Frank Yallop has addressed all of my main concerns from last year — only two weeks into the season. I wonder where I could lay a bet for a top-3-in-the-east finish this early in the season?