Following the heavy blow sustained in the 3-2 defeat to Orlando City SC under two weeks ago, Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago) and David Accam (Ghana) were called in for international duty and each missed a pair of matches: last weekend's 2-0 loss to New England Revolution and Tuesday night's slender win over Louisville City FC in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Shaun Maloney, away with Scotland, also hadn't featured for Frank Yallop's side since the 3-0 rout of the Montreal Impact. The Men in Red's No. 10 played all 90 minutes in a blistering UEFA Euro 2016 qualifier just three days before logging 51 minutes in his Open Cup debut.
Entering the match as a second-half substitute, the 32-year-old's night was cut short and had to be replaced by Razvan Cocis in the first half of extra time, however. After initially being diagnosed with "slight back spasms" shortly after Tuesday's victory, Maloney - and the rest of the team - were given Wednesday off. Having then missed training Thursday and Friday, the Scotsman underwent an MRI on Friday that revealed a bulging disc, thus ruling him out for next week's Eastern Conference clash with D.C. United.
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"It's good to have everyone back," said Yallop before learning of Maloney's ultimate diagnosis. "We've got a big game next Wednesday; we want to come out and win it. We should have David and Joevin back. David's come back a little twinged, that's why he trained by himself. He should be fine.
"Shaun's got a bit of a back issue at the moment. Other than that, we've got most of our guys back."
Friday morning's training session at the Toyota Park Practice Field signaled the return of two of the Chicago Fire's three Designated Players: Kennedy Igboananike (sinus infection) and Accam. The Men in Red were also bolstered by the sight of Jeff Larentowicz (groin) - named to the bench versus Louisville - who didn't feature on Tuesday, but resumed training. Alongside Jones and Magee (hamstring), Igboananike and Larentowicz conducted separate, technical drills with fitness coach Adrian Lamb aside from full training, while Accam jogged around the field, dribbling the ball from time to time.
Now, the ninth-placed Fire turn their heads to next Wednesday's meeting with Ben Olsen's outfit, which culminates a seven game stretch against conference opponents that began in the Bronx on May 15. Since amassing five points in the first three contests, the Men in Red have lost three straight in MLS play. Beginning with D.C., Yallop's group will set about a period of three games in a span of 10 days before fixtures begin to pile up in July and August.
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"It's not bad until you get a few injuries and you go 'Uh-oh,'" Yallop added. "That's always the worry. You've got three games in a week and you've got a couple of guys out, and you say 'I wish we had a week to recover.' I think we should be full strength in the next game."
In the meantime, the second-year head coach rewarded his delegation with a well-deserved day's rest on Saturday. Fourteen roster players, along with guests Anton Ferdinand and newcomer Simeon Jackson - both enduring training stays with the squad - split into four teams of four, and engaged in a competitive, small-sided tournament. The winners?
— Sean Johnson (@sjohn25) June 19, 2015
Jackson, recently released by Coventry City FC, was named to Canada's preliminary Gold Cup roster. Yallop and Marc Bircham, both well-acquainted with the 28-year-old striker, brought him in to help him prepare for the biennial tournament. Jackson will continue training with the Fire through all of next week before joining the national team before their Group B bout with El Salvador on July 8.