Yallop: 'Naive' Fire lament second half performance vs. D.C.


Yallop: 'Naive' Fire lament second half performance vs. D.C.

In his weekly conference call Monday afternoon, head coach Frank Yallop forewarned his side of D.C. United’s knack for churning out results while occasionally not performing at their best. On Wednesday, Ben Olsen’s bruised and battered group proved precisely that, and why they deserve to sit atop the Eastern Conference.

After a 3-0 thumping of the Montreal Impact, the Chicago Fire reverted to losing ways with a 3-1 defeat to D.C. United at RFK Stadium, their first loss since stumbling to Real Salt Lake on May 9 and first against an in-conference opponent.

"For whatever reason we stopped playing in a certain part in the game and started trying to soak up pressure when we can’t do that," Yallop said in his post-match press conference. "We were naïve a little bit tonight I think in the big picture and D.C. United kept going and were stronger than us.

"I haven’t seen the goals, so I have to look at them again on tape, but it’s never good to concede three goals at home or away but especially when you’re away and one goal up."

A hushed beginning to the match saw the Fire (4-6-2, 14 points) silence the home crowd in the 28th minute as Designated Player David Accam found the net for the third time in 2015. But a second-half brace from Jairo Arrieta and an insurance tally from Conor Doyle in the 75th minute secured all three points for the unflustered hosts, who extended their home unbeaten streak to 20 games, while the Men in Red slipped to seventh place in the standings.

[NBC SHOP: Buy a Fire jersey right here!]

The Ghanaian found it difficult to establish a rhythm in the early going, but left back Joevin Jones’ darting run to elude multiple D.C. defenders in the fifth minute provided Frank Yallop’s side with the impetus to impose a similar strategy deployed against the Impact at Toyota Park five days earlier.

It was D.C., though, who would generate the first meaningful attack of the match, as Nick DeLeon was released into space behind the Fire back four, firing his cross-shot across Jon Busch - making his third consecutive start - only for the ‘keeper to palm comfortably wide.

Accam nearly produced the breakthrough in the 20th minute following Matt Polster’s break-up play in the midfield. The rookie collected the ball and darted toward D.C.’s defense to find the winger, but his sliding effort trickled inches wide of former Fire ‘keeper Andrew Dykstra’s goal.

In the 26th minute, D.C. defender Steven Birnbaum’s clumsy hand ball was whistled for a penalty kick, but Dykstra kept out skipper Jeff Larentowicz’s effort, before Accam struck a minute later.

Harry Shipp’s early recognition to find a sprinting Quincy Amarikwa - one of a bevy of changes to the Fire lineup - down the left flank resulted in a surprise 1-0 advantage to the visitors, as Accam latched onto a one-time, low driven cross from Amarikwa to bury past Dykstra and muzzle the 11,218 onlookers.

[MORE: Igboananike named to Team of the Week; Shipp up for Goal of the Week]

The second half saw a determined D.C. outfit take the game to the Men in Red, as substitute Fabian Espindola profoundly put his stamp on the match. After withstanding a quarter of an hour’s worth of pressure, Olsen’s delegation eventually breached an absorbent Fire defense.

Espindola’s corner kick delivery in the 61st minute was met by Arrieta, who lost his marks and headed past Busch to level the match at one apiece. Arrieta would inflict further damage eight minutes later, pouncing onto a loose ball in the box to fire past a stranded Busch once more.

Despite sending on the rested Razvan Cocis and Kennedy Igboananike in hopes of salvaging a third straight 2-2 draw on their travels, it was D.C. who struck again, this time via Conor Doyle, who provided the insurance goal with a tap-in in the 75th minute.

"For us, conceding three goals in any match is not good so we’ve got to look at it again, dig deep and get ready for Saturday’s game because it’s a big game for us," Yallop added.

For D.C., the victory cemented the team’s position at the summit of the Eastern Conference, while the loss marks the 15th game in which the Fire have failed to win on the road.

Next up, the Men in Red return for another quick turnaround with a home bout against expansion side Orlando City SC on Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. on CSN.

Chicago Fire Starting XI (subs)

(4-4-1-1): Jon Busch; Lovel Palmer, Jeff Larentowicz (C), Eric Gehrig, Joevin Jones; Michael Stephens (Razvan Cocis, 62'), Matt Polster, Matt Watson (Kennedy Igboananike, 70'), David Accam (Guly do Prado, 77'); Harry Shipp; Quincy Amarikwa.

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

After failing to qualify to play in this summer’s World Cup, the United States’ pain was alleviated on Wednesday morning after earning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

But why is this bittersweet for Chicagoans?

Even though the World Cup will be hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada in eight years, matches will not be played in Chicago.

The city chose not to be one of the potential hosts of the world’s largest sporting event, despite using Soldier Field as a venue for the 1994 World Cup.

One of the reasons could be the low seating capacity of Chicago’s historic stadium. Soldier Field would be the second smallest spot out of any World Cup host option, seating only 61,500. The massive competition also draws enormous crowds, possibly causing logistical concerns for a highly-populated place like Chicago.

Ten out of 17 different cities in the United States will be gifted the opportunity to host 2026 World Cup games. The list includes Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium) and Nashville (Nissan Stadium), which are the closest domestic locations to Chicago.

The bright side is that fans from the Midwest won’t have to travel very far to see a match. For bigtime soccer fans in the Chicago area, having the chance to attend world-class matches in United States could be exciting enough.

Out of the 80 games taking place in 2026, 60 of them will be located in the United States.

Can this bid with Mexico and Canada at least help the relevancy of U.S. Soccer in the Chicago area?

The U.S. men’s national team missed this year’s World Cup at a very unideal time, just when it seemed like the sport of soccer was gaining more and more popularity in the United States.

Plus, the United States might not even get an automatic bid to play in their own World Cup as hosts.

But becoming a member of the first trio in FIFA history to host the World Cup, coupled with the expanded 48-team field in 2026, could help the United States retain the fans they have across the nation and around Chicago.

The World Cup might not be coming to the Windy City, but Chicagoans will still have something to be excited about in 2026 with games being played right around the corner. If the U.S. can qualify for the upcoming World Cups, having the tournament in North America will be much sweeter.

Until then, the 2018 World Cup kicks off this Thursday night in Russia.

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.