Yallop on Fire win over NYCFC: 'We were on our game tonight'


Yallop on Fire win over NYCFC: 'We were on our game tonight'

In front of a standing-room only crowd of 19,124 at Toyota Park on Friday night, the Chicago Fire held on against a 10-man New York City FC side to win 1-0 and claim their third consecutive victory.

David Accam pulverized Jason Kreis' side all night and got his reward in the 20th minute, capitalizing on some lackadaisical play from goalkeeper Ryan Meara to give the Fire all they needed to climb to fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

"It feels great to be on the scoresheet," Accam said. "For me, I know I should've scored maybe two or three, but we got three points today so that's what we'll keep working on."

Behind another sharp-witted performance from Harry Shipp in the midfield, the Men in Red took Frank Yallop's message of getting on the front foot early to heart, with Accam spearheading the Fire attack. 

The Homegrown midfielder threaded the needle and ignited most of the running in the early stages, while interchanging with the Ghanaian international on the flanks.

"For me, I love just showing up anywhere on the field and I think he's the same," Shipp said. "He likes testing both outside backs and it forces the defense to always be on their toes because they never know when either of us is going pop up. It's something we'll hopefully continue to do." 

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A slick surface gave way to some misplaced passes, leading to lapses in possession for both sides, one of which nearly gifted Accam his first MLS goal. In the 20th minute, after dazzling and dangling his way past stranded NYCFC defenders, his shot from inside the box clanked off the post, the Fire's first clear-cut chance of the match.

Four minutes later, Accam used his speed to carve through the City defense and run clean through on goal, leaving midfielder Andrew Jacobson no option but to take the Designated Player down from behind, earning a straight red card in the process.

Despite being reduced to 10 men before the half hour mark, Kreis' outfit didn't go into the halftime break quietly. After skipping through the Fire midfield and evading a few challenges, Mix Diskerud unleashed a knuckling shot in the 41st minute that stung the fingertips of Sean Johnson.

The halftime talk from Frank Yallop paid dividends as the Men in Red came out flying at the start of the second half, with Shipp belting a shot off the post in the 51st minute. For Yallop, a monumental aspect of the Fire's second half success was getting Shaun Maloney to retreat from his position higher up the field to cope with NYCFC's midfield setup.

"New York played well till the end of the half," Yallop said in his post-match press conference. "I just said, 'We've got the extra guy, we can't be sitting back.'

"I wanted Shaun to drop underneath a little bit more to get an extra guy in midfield because they do overload the midfield. They play a diamond, they play tight. I think Shaun did a good job in the second half of dropping in and creating a lot of play in possession for us to break on them.

[RELATED: Fire host NYCFC on Friday, seeking third consecutive win]

"A halftime talk is always good when you're winning, but you're always looking for that extra goal to make a difference in the game to make it 2-0. Credit to New York, they kept going and didn't buckle under, but we were on our game tonight and that was pleasing to see."

With Guly do Prado playing his part despite a lack of playing time this season, an injection of pace and energy beckoned with the introduction of Quincy Amarikwa, who was released in behind the City defense, keeping the visitors on their toes.

"I thought he [do Prado] did well tonight," Yallop said. "He held the ball up and played a good role in our attack. Quincy had an ankle injury and missed 12 days of training.

"We're on top of that now where if guys don't train, they won't be able to last 90 minutes. Our fitness coach Adrian Lamb has done a fantastic job and it showed tonight."  

By the 83rd minute, Meara continued to make strides toward atoning for his costly mistake in setting up the lone goal of the match, parrying a diving header from Accam on the line and following up with a string of saves shortly after.

The Men in Red persisted in applying pressure as the rain poured down on the Toyota Park pitch in the waning moments, but Accam's 20th-minute tally proved to be the difference as Yallop's side ran out winners against the visiting expansion side.

The Fire return to action on Sunday, May 3 as they take on Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park. Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m. 

Chicago Fire Starting XI (subs):

(4-4-1-1): Sean Johnson; Eric Gehrig, Jeff Larentowicz, Adailton, Joevin Jones; Harry Shipp, Matt Watson, Matt Polster, David Accam; Shaun Maloney; Guly do Prado (Quincy Amarikwa, 66')

Manchester City brings Premier League trophy to Chicago ahead of preseason game in Soldier Field

NBC Sports Chicago

Manchester City brings Premier League trophy to Chicago ahead of preseason game in Soldier Field

Manchester City is coming off a season in which it dominated the English Premier League to the tune of a record 100-point season.

City is kicking off the preseason of its title defense in Chicago. City takes on Borussia Dortmund at Soldier Field on Friday night.

The last time the reigning Premier League champions were in Chicago was when rivals Manchester United came to Soldier to take on the Chicago Fire in 2011.

The Citizens won’t have the full arsenal of stacked stars for its U.S. tour, which also includes stops in New York and Miami as part of the International Champions Cup. Many of the team’s best players are getting a break after playing in the World Cup. Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne, one of the stars of the tournament, is one of six Man City players to reach the semifinals.

Paul Dickov, who played for City for nearly 10 years between 1996 and 2008, is on tour with the team and talked about City’s preparations.

“The reason the clubs want to come to the States and play in International Champions Cup is the facilities are fantastic, the training facilities, the hotels, the treatment they get and just give them the best preparation going into what’s going to be a hard season,” Dickov said. “Nobody has won the Premier League back-to-back titles for nearly 10 years now so it’s going to be tough. Coming here and being able to prepare the way they can in the United States is going to put them on a long way to regain the title again.”

City brought the Premier League trophy to Wrigley Field on Thursday for the Cubs-Cardinals game. Dickov got to throw out the first pitch. The Scotsman threw a strike, much to his relief.

“I was quite calm beforehand, but I must admit when I got out there and I had to walk out there both hands started getting a bit sweaty,” he said. “I managed to make it and I got a fantastic reception off the Chicago Cubs fans so thank you to everybody at Chicago Cubs for having me there. It was great. Something I’ll never forget.”

Dickov compared Cubs fans to City fans in the way both teams struggled for a long time before finding success.

“They stuck by us through thick and thin when things weren’t as great,” Dickov said of Man City fans. “I suppose it’s a little bit like the Chicago Cubs here in Chicago. The fans turn out, they get 30-40 thousand, great atmosphere, back their team.”

While promoting the game, the Premier League trophy made multiple stops in Chicago, including with the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on an off day.

City also took the trophy and new signing Riyad Mahrez, who just joined Man City from 2016 champions Leicester City, to Haas Park in Logan Square. Haas Park includes a soccer field donated by Manchester City and the American embassy of the United Arab Emirates in 2012.

“The outcome of it has been great,” Dickov said. “Thousands of children and families benefiting, not just from the soccer part of it, but the education program as well. To be down there the other day for the full day and seeing the joy in the kids face seeing soccer here and the other activities that are on is great because, yeah, football is fantastic, soccer is fantastic and when you’re out there and you play you want to win, but it’s important, especially from Manchester City’s point of view, the city and the community. The stuff that they do off the field is second to none and it’s giving something back.”

Chicago Fire permanently sign midfielder Aleksandar Katai


Chicago Fire permanently sign midfielder Aleksandar Katai

The Fire have secured the transfer of midfielder Aleksandar Katai from Deportivo Alavés of the Spanish La Liga, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

This season’s breakout playmaker has been signed with Chicago through 2019, with a 2020 club option. Before the transfer, Katai was on loan from Alavés, which was set to expire after July.

The Serbian player has emerged as one of the most important pieces of the Fire’s offense this season. Since joining the club on Feb. 6, Katai has scored eight goals in 18 league matches, tying forward Nemanja Nikolić for the most on the team. Katai also has three assists in 2018.

The 27-year-old’s biggest game of the year came against New York City FC last month when he scored two goals to lead the Fire to 3-2 victory. His production this season in the MLS has been much more significant than it was in 23 matches with Alavés, where Katai only tallied three goals and four assists.

His transfer fee is unknown but, according to Sam Stejskal of, he will be a “Targeted Allocation Money player” for the rest of this season and will not be a Designated Player until 2019. Whatever the official price was, acquiring Katai for a lengthier amount of time seemed like a must.

Throughout this season, the Fire were rumored to be in talks with legendary Spanish striker Fernando Torres. On Tuesday, he signed with Sagan Tosu, a Japanese club. The Fire signed Katai the next day, showing that the team was possibly waiting for Torres to leave the market.

Chicago will face the Philadelphia Union Wednesday night at Toyota Park, where Katai will look to continue his impressive season.