The Fire’s 1-0 extra-time win Tuesday over Louisville City FC in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup won’t do anything to calm concerns that this is once again the same old team. Louisville City is the fourth-place club in the Eastern Conference of American soccer’s third-tier USL, and shouldn’t have posed much of a problem despite the Fire using a decent but maybe not full-strength lineup.
That the Fire needed Quincy Amarikwa to score in the 116th minute only underscored the need for reinforcements this summer.
“We’re forever looking, and whether there’s someone coming in the window I have no idea because we’re going to attempt to try and change things in the window like every club is,” coach Frank Yallop said Monday. “Whether it’s significant or not depends on who you can get.”
This winter the Fire did make significant moves, adding David Accam, Shaun Maloney, Kennedy Igboananike and Joevin Jones. Accam and Jones were unavailable because of international duty, Maloney came on to start the second half before leaving during extra time with an injury, and Igboananike wasn’t on the game-day roster because of a sinus infection. With Mike Magee (left hamstring) and Patrick Nyarko (right knee) out and the rest coming off a game three days ago, the Fire weren’t 100 percent but still should have done more against Louisville City.
They didn’t, and the Fire showed they’re still far from a completed project.
“A win’s a win,” said Sean Johnson, who started in goal for the first time since May 15 at New York City FC. “Obviously, it wasn’t our best game and we know that. Going forward it’s just a lesson learned that no matter what team we step out against on the field we’re going to have to play to our strengths and really believe and have the confidence to go out there and play with any team, no matter the level.”
Unlike the last three MLS games – all losses – conceding goals wasn’t the issue for the Fire on Tuesday. It was a lack of offense moving forward, especially during a dour first half when Louisville City arguably had the better chances.
Yallop, however, thinks things will get better when Accam, Jones and even Magee and Nyarko are back.
“Getting all our players back and healthy and getting on the field together, and then we’ll see what we have,” Yallop said. “I wouldn’t judge that… that’s not us.
“I’m excited about once we get everyone healthy what we’re going to look like.”
The second half showed some improvement but still probably wasn’t what Yallop or even chairman Andrew Hauptman intended when this team was assembled. Asked about how Hauptman was reacting to the Fire’s recent performances, Yallop said Monday “obviously, he’s frustrated” but also stressed how he likes the look of the team and how it’s trying to play.
“He’s frustrated,” Yallop said. “He wants to win and that’s the reason he’s put money in and really pushing for us to do well. He’s 100 percent behind what we’re trying to do, but obviously results have not been good, lately.”
NOTES:Yallop hoped Maloney’s issue was only a back spasm.
– Rookie Matt Polster moved from the midfield to the back line, and Yallop also handed starts to Chris Ritter, Michael Stephens, Greg Cochrane, Matt Watson and Jason Johnson.
Jeff Larentowicz was on the 18-man roster but was suffering from a slight groin strain and didn’t play.