Fire: As injuries pile up, Yallop mulls interest in transfer window


Fire: As injuries pile up, Yallop mulls interest in transfer window

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."

[MORE: Fire, CSN to provide three Spanish-language telecasts in July]

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." 


Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?


Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

Portillo's has become a staple in the Chicagoland area due to its popular hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and now, its soccer jerseys.

OK, maybe one of these does not belong with the others. Regardless, Twitter user @JTHazzard created mock-up soccer jerseys mashing MLS teams and restaurants based in that team's city, and the Portillo's jersey is sweet. 

From the Portillo's logo taking center-stage to the picnic blanket pattern to the discrete Chicago Fire logo, this jersey is absolutely brilliant. The only change this writer would make is including the logo below instead.

Valspar is the current sponsor featured on the Fire's uniforms. If the team ever needs a new sponsor, though, Portillo's would be an excellent replacement.

Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon


Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon

As far as notorious players in MLS with a history of scoring big goals, Alan Gordon is one of the first names on that list.

The Fire signed the 36-year-old forward on Friday, continuing to add depth to a roster that appeared paper thin throughout the preseason. Gordon, who had been on trial with the Fire for part of the preseason and even after the season opener, signed a one-year deal.

Gordon adds plenty of experience from being in the league since 2004 and having scored 55 goals with five different teams. For the past few years he has been used primarily as a substitute, but has still maintained his reputation for scoring goals late in games.

At 6-foot-3 he brings plenty of size and strength to the team and is one of the best players on headers in the league. Last season the Fire failed to score directly off a set piece, which was both due to consistently poor service from corner kicks and a lack of players adept at finishing them off. Gordon should give the Fire a late-game option in that area.

Elliot Collier had impressed the Fire enough to earn a contract as a third-round pick and an international player and even came off the bench in the opening loss to Sporting Kansas City, but it appears the team wanted more experience at forward with Gordon.