In his third full season with the Chicago Fire, Quincy Amarikwa hasn't had much luck finding the back of the net.
One of four players to have featured in all 14 MLS regular season matches thus far, half of the Bakersfield, Calif., native's appearances have come as a substitute. In that time, the Fire's No. 24 has let 32 shots fly at the opposition's goal, a team-leading statistic matched only by Homegrown midfielder Harry Shipp.
Characterized by his dogged work rate and a willingness to goad defenders into turning the ball over, the 25-year-old's unswerving tenacity yielded his first goal of the season in the Men in Red's 1-0 extra time victory over USL's Louisville City FC.
"That's the name of the game: you create enough chances, and you take enough shots on goal, eventually you'll score," Amarikwa said. "That was the mentality going into the game. I've been looking to break through for a while now, and it's nice to get the monkey off your back. It's just a matter of continuing to not let the misses keep you from taking your next chance."
Amarikwa's lone goal in Tuesday night's triumph snapped a prior three-game losing streak in the league, but against lower opposition in the fourth-round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fixture, clinical finishing - among some of the team's other collective concerns - materialized once more, evidenced by the 17 shots taken by the Fire, with only two of them registered on target.
A thorn in the side of the group through the better part of the campaign - which is rapidly nearing its halfway point - a disgruntled Frank Yallop also disclosed his discontentment with his players' lack of effort against a readily determined opponent, eventually calling on Amarikwa to provide the spark.
"I didn’t think our first half was up to standards for a team trying to win the cup," Yallop said in his post-match press conference. "This is round one, but you're trying to win a trophy. I thought we were sleep walking through it and not applying ourselves. And I told him that. I think a saw a response, not in our general play but in our desire. It showed in the end, we did keep going. We did get the goal that we wanted in the end. The result is all that matters.”
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With several regulars rested and others still recovering from having played 72 hours earlier, Yallop said it's difficult to judge a makeshift starting lineup from Tuesday's Open Cup display.
Claiming their fourth clean sheet overall, the Men in Red now have the Open Cup fifth round draw (Thursday at 10 a.m.) to look forward to before returning to Toyota Park for another midweek encounter against D.C. United next Wednesday. As for Amarikwa, a first goal since providing the winning tally in preseason against Queens Park Rangers leads the striker to believe an upturn in playing time can present itself.
"That was my first 120-minute game in a long time, and my first 90-minute game in a month and a half or two months," he added. "No matter how much you run in training or how much you train, it's not the same as match fitness. I did the best to run as much as I could to gain as much match fitness as I could today, and I'm hoping that translates into more minutes down the road."