Though holdovers from the Frank Klopas era like Sean Johnson, Jeff Larentowicz, Mike Magee and Patrick Nyarko still figure in the Fire’s plans, this year’s team is a product of Frank Yallop’s vision.
Now in his second season with the Fire, that fact isn’t making Yallop feel any extra pressure.
“I feel more relaxed to be honest, because I think the players I’ve brought in are behind me and they want to be here and I’m not taking over other guys’ players,” Yallop said. “I recruited these guys, I brought them in and I feel you have a bit more sense of belief that I wanted to bring them here. Not, they’re stuck here because I got the job.
“I feel good about our group, I really like working with our team. I’ve been very happy with the guys we kept from last year and then the guys we’ve added.”
Last year, there was a sense the Fire were stuck between two eras. They were in transition and the results showed it as Yallop tried to clear out players and contracts he didn’t want, leaving a squad of some building blocks but plenty of short-term solutions.
And as Klopas and the Montreal Impact (2-3-2, eight points) visit Saturday night, that process should be over for the Fire (3-5-2, 11 points). Yallop brought in three Designated Players and made it clear he wanted to play an attacking style, something he can do with players he chose.
“I think we as a collective unit have more of an idea of where we want to go. I think last year was a lot of kind of figuring stuff out on the fly for both players and coaches,” midfielder Harry Shipp said. “Whereas this year, it’s been a calmer demeanor and kind of everyone just kind of filling roles that he set out for them, instead of trying to plug people into roles maybe they’re not suited for.”
Ten games in, the results have been mixed. There have been promising moments but also disheartening ones, leading to a four-game winless streak. Though maybe it’s in those negative moments that being signed or kept by the same coach means the most.
“We’re all the players the manager signed, so I think there’s no detracting from the team or there’s nobody going off or pulling in a different direction,” midfielder Shaun Maloney said. “We’ve all been signed (by) Frank or we’ve all been kept by Frank and we’re completely behind the ethos in what they’re trying to bring, or how they’re wanting us to play. I just say we’re all pushing in the right direction.”
NOTES: Magee and rookie Kingsley Bryce were loaned on Friday to USL affiliate Saint Louis FC. Magee will play Saturday before returning to the Fire, though he likely won’t available Wednesday against D.C. United. Yallop said Magee might be able to play next Saturday against Orlando City.
— Yallop declined to say whether Johnson or Jon Busch would start in goal.