Saturday could have been part of a bye week for the Fire. When the schedule originally came out in January, the Fire were supposed to be off this weekend and in the middle of an 18-day stretch between MLS games.
That changed March 26 when the Fire-New England Revolution match originally scheduled for April 15 was shifted to Saturday. And because the game was switched into the middle of a window of international games, the Fire will be without David Accam, Shaun Maloney and Joevin Jones as they try to snap a two-match losing streak.
But if the Fire regret moving the game – and also creating a congested schedule with their U.S. Open Cup game coming Tuesday against Louisville City FC at Toyota Park – they aren’t saying.
“It is what it is. It was crammed into the schedule anyway,” coach Frank Yallop said, referencing how the original schedule had the Fire playing both April 15 and April 18.
“I can’t look back and say well we shouldn’t have done it. Not at all. We’ve got to get ready and try and win in New England. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Accam, Maloney and Jones would have made that task easier against New England (5-4-6, 21 points), which won last year’s Eastern Conference championship. Accam has been as advertised, an electric player on the wing who’s drawn raves from MLS observers. Maloney’s had his moments in the middle of the field, and Jones has been a pleasant surprise at left back who’s paired well with Accam in attack.
“When you have quality players they get called up for their national teams,” Yallop said. “We knew that going into the season that they’re going to get called up because they’re good.”
Those three have been, but as a team the Fire (4-7-2, 14 points) haven’t been too good recently. They’ve given up six goals over their last two games, and allowed expansion Orlando City to rally from a 2-1 deficit last Saturday to win 3-2.
It was a stinging loss, and one that was reminiscent of 2014 when the Fire found new and exciting ways to drop points.
“It’s tough,” midfielder Harry Shipp said Saturday. “It’s a combination of natural goals and avoidable mistakes and stupid little things that we aren’t doing great.”
Thanks to the new schedule, the Fire will have their chance to bounce back Saturday. Albeit without three of their most influential players.
NOTES: Mike Magee isn’t traveling to New England for precautionary reasons after tweaking his left hamstring Thursday. In his season debut last week against Orlando City, Magee played seven minutes.
– Defender Patrick Doody was recalled from his loan to the USL’s Saint Louis FC.