Fire interim coach Brian Bliss will welcome four of his key players back to Chicago on Wednesday.
David Accam (Ghana), Daneil Cyrus and Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago), and Matt Polster (United States Under-23s) all went the full 90 minutes with their respective national teams on Tuesday, the final day of the FIFA international window. Accam featured in the 1-1 draw with Canada at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Cyrus and Jones featured 35 and 77 minutes, respectively, in the Soca Warriors' 2-1 win over Panama on Oct. 8, and were also involved in the team's scoreless draw against Nicaragua at Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Meanwhile, Polster and the U-23s avenged their disappointing 2-0 defeat to Honduras in the semifinal round of the Olympic qualifying championship with a 2-0 win over Canada in the third-place game in Sandy, Utah. Only a two-game, home-and-away series against Colombia next March now stands in the way of earning a berth in next summer's Olympics in Rio.
Polster helped Andi Herzog's men notch a perfect 3-0-0 record in Group A and featured in all five matches. The Fire rookie played the full 90 minutes in group stage wins against Canada and Panama, and the loss to Honduras. The 22-year-old also started and played 60 minutes in the U.S.'s 6-1 throttling of Cuba, and recorded an assist.
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“I’ve watched three of the four games so far that he’s played in in these qualifiers, and he's given a good account of himself," Bliss told reporters via teleconference Tuesday. "He’s shown a little bit of flexibility just like he has with us, and where he can play. He can play internally, he can play right back. They even used him in the last game in the second half as a right midfielder at some points. I’m not saying that’s his strong suit, but it’s showing a little bit of flexibility in his game, and he’s done well. So, kudos to him.”
The quartet's absence allowed Bliss to evaluate a batch of USL players during the bye week, and a couple of younger players from the Fire's youth ranks as well.
“These first two days – yesterday (Monday) and today (Tuesday) – have been light in terms of, not the work load, but the actual bodies in training," Bliss added. "We’ve supplemented with one or two guys we brought in from our Academy team that do well, and have earned that opportunity to come in and help us. It just was dumb luck that this early part of the week has coincided with a break in high school with Columbus Day and the teacher's workshop. ... Those kids have done well, and the level of play in general has not dropped off with those guys added in."
Bliss said he would closely monitor Tuesday's matches, and is hopeful that Accam, Cyrus, Jones and Polster will all return to Chicago without any injuries. The team will have a day off on Wednesday before reconvening on Thursday and Friday to prepare for the final road match of the season against D.C. United.
“His game is being played in D.C., so that’s great for us," Bliss said of Accam. "The travel time and the distance to get back to Chicago is light compared to when he has to travel to West Africa for games. ... Hopefully he performs well, and comes out of it injury-free. He’ll be expected to be back here tomorrow, and then we’ll get him into a [regeneration] program with the other guys on Thursday. ... We’re expecting that to be the model.”
NOTE: After succumbing to an 8-1 defeat at the hands of Germany on Oct. 6, Homegrown midfielder Collin Fernandez and the U.S. U-20s concluded the Four Nations Tournament with a 2-2 draw against Scotland (Oct. 9) and 3-3 draw against Mexico (Oct. 12).