Looking to bag their first win of 2014, the Chicago Fire finally returned home to Toyota Park on Saturday. It was a very chilly match that was plagued by poor passing and possession by both sides – something that Frank Yallop attributed to the poor early season pitch conditions at Toyota Park.
Jeff Larentowicz got the Fire on the board early when he headed home a Harry Shipp corner kick in the sixth minute. The Fire saw a few other early opportunities before New York settled into a rhythm and really started to dominate the match. DaxMcCarty’s 21st minute equalizer proved to be the final goal in a match that saw many missed opportunities, goal line clearances, and fingertip saves. The play on the field itself wasn’t all that exciting, what was exciting was the continued evolution of Yallop’s lineup.
“Play the kids” is a phrase that has been used a lot in Chicago over the last few seasons. It seemed as though the Fire always had promising, young talent sitting on the bench and never getting an opportunity to prove themselves in a competitive match. Obviously, Frank Yallop has bigger plans.
For the second straight match, youngsters Benji Joya and Harry Shipp were in the starting XI on Saturday. Original Fire homegrown player Victor Pineda also saw the pitch for the first time time in his four years as a member of this club. Yallop isn’t afraid to play the kids, and it’s showing some early promise.
The Fire are still winless for 2014, but the old, slow, uninspiring, veteran laden lineup that we saw opening weekend against Chivas has evolved into a young and old, promise and poise. This club is still coming together, the youth are growing right before our eyes, but one thing is clear – these kids are good.
The club is off to a slow start – 2 points from 3 matches. But, if Yallop continues to stick with the kids and they continue to learn and grow, this team could be a very exciting one to watch when the calendar turns to summer. The kids, coupled with a 2013 esque Mike Magee, a revamped defensive line and a new coach could turn the Fire into one of the young and dominant teams in the league for seasons to come.
(image courtesy of mlssoccer.com)