Harry Shipp said he and the Fire looked forward to proving Bakary Soumare’s “disrespectful” comments wrong.
“I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion of clubs, and I think for us we take pride in being part of this club every day,” Shipp said Friday. “I think comments like that… we think they’re disrespectful to the club and I think for us it’s about wearing the Fire badge with pride and going and proving what he said wrong on a daily basis.”
At least on Saturday, the Fire did that.
Shipp, Jeff Larentowicz and Kennedy Igboananike scored and Jon Busch had a shutout for the Fire in their 3-0 win over the Montreal Impact at Toyota Park. Playing a man up after Marco Donadel’s second yellow in the 37th minute, the Fire snapped their four-game winless streak.
“I know they had 10 men, but we limited their chances pretty well and I think that’s always a good sign of a team,” Fire coach Frank Yallop said. “They didn’t really have many looks.”
Soumare was playing his first game in Bridgeview since being claimed in the second phase of the re-entry draft in December. During his second stint with the Fire (4-5-2, 14 points), Soumare was a frustratingly inconsistent defender and that continued Saturday for Montreal when he lost the ball to Igboananike before the first Fire goal and fouled David Accam in the box leading to Larentowicz’s penalty kick.
Performances like those in Chicago led some to take his January words with a grain of salt when he reportedly questioned the Fire’s ambition and said “there’s a lack of will to succeed on every level.” He also said he saw a decline in the club from 2007 “when it comes to the staff, the squad, the club itself, the stadium, all the way to the grass.”
“Chicago is my home,” Soumare said in January. “It always will be. But the club has really fallen from when it used to stand.”
Since Soumare spoke about his former club, the turf at Toyota Park has improved markedly and the Fire are 11 games into a season with three Designated Players. But Soumare’s point about the playoffs still holds, and despite Saturday’s strong performance, it looks like the Fire will have to fight for their first postseason berth since 2012.
Of course Shipp disagreed with Soumare’s statements. He said that wasn’t something “consciously going through your mind” during the match but he thought it was “kind of in everyone’s blood and subconscious going into the game.”
“No matter who we were playing we wanted to get something to get on a roll and tonight this was our first kind of comfortable win of the year,” Shipp said. “We hadn’t had, I don’t think, a multi-goal win yet this year. So I think for us to kind of see a game out and put together a full 90 minutes was, no matter who it was against, but being against Montreal it was especially sweet.”
NOTE: Midfielder Shaun Maloney will miss the Fire’s next three games after being called up by the Scotland national team. Maloney and Scotland will face Qatar in a June 5 friendly and Ireland on June 13 in a Euro 2016 qualifier.