The Fire might not see the all the pluses of their 20-day break until later in the season. Those benefits might not have been obvious Friday, but they still picked up another win.
Playing against an expansion New York City FC team without injured star David Villa, the Fire returned from their hiatus with a 1-0victory in front of an announced crowd of 19,124 at Toyota Park. David Accam took advantage of an error by NYCFC goalkeeper Ryan Meara to score his first MLS goal for the Fire (3-3-0, nine points), who won three straight for the first time since Oct. 4-19, 2013.
The Fire were also able to continue their momentum from consecutive wins, albeit wins that came on March 29 against Philadelphia and April 4 against Toronto FC. Since then, the Fire had taken part in a pair of intrasquad scrimmages and three weeks of practices that were compared to a mini preseason.
During the break, Fire coach Frank Yallop said he would let people know how his players were impacted by the light schedule after they played again. On Friday, he said “it really was great.”
“I think we got a lot fitter. I thought we were really on task the whole game,” Yallop said. “I think that we pressed the whole game.”
They did, and at times it looked like the Fire would roll over the first-year team.
Accam gave the Fire the lead in the 20th minute after he took advantage of Meara’s miscue. Meara went to the right of his goal to catch a long bouncing ball and keep it in play but couldn’t corral it, with Accam taking possession and filling the empty net.
The Fire then had a chance to blow the game open when NYCFC’sAndrew Jacobson was handed a straight red card for taking down Accam in the 23rd minute. That advantage didn’t lead to a goal, but the Fire still created more of the chances and at times looked similar to the team that beat Toronto 3-2 20 days earlier.
“I see a team maturing in the last couple games, and we’ve not played for a while,” Yallop said.
With their third consecutive win, the Fire might be able to say for the first time in a while they have genuine momentum. Well, they could if not for that gap in between wins.
“It’s brilliant having three straight wins, but obviously with that break it just tempers that slightly,” midfielder Shaun Maloney said. “I think with the win tonight we could have had more. I think we were very pleased to have won, and now it looks as though the 20 days training we had, I think it’s going to be a big benefit throughout the season.”
NOTE:The Fire honored club iconCuauhtemoc Blancowith a video tribute before the game. The superstar was with the Fire from 2007-2009, and on Tuesday played for Puebla in what he said is his final game before retiring.