Prior to the Men in Red's 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo Friday night, Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop had to stomach the unwelcome news that captain Jeff Larentowicz would miss the match and an additional two weeks with a herniated disc.
That injury, preceded by Adaílton's premature exit with a groin strain, leaves the Fire shorn of both of their starting center backs, who've anchored the defense in 13 of 16 MLS regular season matches. With injuries piling up and a crucial stretch of league fixtures looming, Yallop's concentration is on his squad while gradually shifting toward the opening of Wednesday's secondary transfer window, which runs through Aug. 6.
"We've got a lot of irons in the fire right now," he said Monday via teleconference. "Sometimes your focus changes with a couple of injuries. We're looking to strengthen, for sure. We've got nothing pending or nothing that's real close yet. We're trying our best to nail it down. We're hoping Jeff gets through his thing tomorrow and then we can really focus on what we're trying to do."
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Larentowicz, who'd been afflicted with right groin tightness in recent weeks as well, had been dealing with neck pain since June 24 vs. D.C. United. He will meet with a specialist on Tuesday to determine the extent of the problem and timetable for his return, which is "up in the air," according to Yallop.
Since succumbing to a last-place finish in the Eastern Conference with 2015's halfway point in clear view, Yallop's job security has come under some scrutiny, with various sources reporting the second-year head coach's reign in Bridgeview is nearing its end. With a somewhat underwhelming start to his second full season at the helm, his talks with Owner and Chairman Andrew Hauptman recently suggest whispers citing a rift between the Fire brass and technical staff are insubstantial.
"I'm just here doing my job, there's always going to be rumors when you're not doing well," Yallop said. "I don't worry about it. My focus is on the team. Worrying about it and thinking about it all the time is not good. I'm just going to get on with my job, make sure I do it as best I can. Maybe we need to get a doctor in rather than a coach.
"We've spoken just as normal, trying to get the team obviously in the winning column in the league and any potential moves. So no, we've not discussed my individual position, not at all."
In the meantime - with one eye on the summer window - the attention switches to molding the injury-laiden side and those available into a formidable team that can begin to compete with the league's best, a task that begins Saturday against Western Conference-leading Seattle Sounders FC.
Ty Harden, newly acquired from the San Jose Earthquakes last week in an exchange with Quincy Amarikwa, could prove to be a timely addition as Yallop prepares to tweak his back four in the coming days. Given some of the injury setbacks, Harden, who's dealt with hamstring issues of his own, could conceivably feature in the starting lineup against Sigi Schmid's outfit alongside Eric Gehrig.
“He hasn’t been full training yet, it’s been a lot of running,” Yallop said, "but he’ll be ready to go on the weekend, I’m sure."