BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The importance of squad depth will be tested over the coming week as the Chicago Fire prepare for a crucial three-game spell in seven days with a challenging injury list.
Head coach Frank Yallop is all too aware of the impact the slate of pivotal games could play in defining the Fire’s season, after a disappointing opening 11 games has seen the Fire struggle to find their best form and consistent results.
However, Yallop is expected to be without Mike Magee (calf) and Patrick Nyarko (knee), with Bakary Soumare (calf), Alex (hamstring) and Gonzalo Segares (ankle) all unlikely to make the starting XI as they continue their rehabilitation following recent injuries.
“We’ve got a tough week coming up so we want all our bodies available if possible,” Yallop told reporters at Toyota Park on Wednesday. “Mike’s still out, Patrick’s still struggling a little bit, Baky’s back, Alex has just started running again so hopefully he can get himself at least in contention for maybe not Sunday, but moving forward in the next three games.”
Veteran left back Segares, 31, who has been receiving pain-killing injections for a bone spur in his ankle, could play some part after coming on as a late substitute in the 5-4 win over the New York Red Bulls and playing the full 90 minutes of the Fire reserves’ 0-0 tie with the Richmond Kickers on May 18.
“He will have a chance on Sunday to be more available than he normally is, because it’s tough for him,” Yallop said of Segares’ chances for game time against the LA Galaxy on Sunday (4 pm ET, MLS Live). “He has a bone spur and he will have to get that out at some point, but he’s a warrior, he’s trying, he works hard, but he’s a little bit limited in what he can do at practice. Hopefully he can contribute if he gets a chance on Sunday.”
The first of this tough three-game run sees the rejuvenated Galaxy visit Toyota Park on Sunday, before travelling to the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday. The following Saturday, high-flying Western Conference leaders the Seattle Sounders come to town to conclude the stretch.
A grueling schedule at any time of the year, not least when a team is without key players that include the league’s reigning MVP and talisman.
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Having said that, Yallop remains in typically optimistic mood, especially given that two of the three games are on home soil.
“LA are coming off two wins, Colorado are always very good at home and Seattle are top of the tree right now, so it’s going to be a tough week for us,” Yallop acknowledged.
“But we’re at home for two of those games, so we’re excited to be at home. We won our last game at home, no matter how we did it, we did it. It’s a big game Sunday, and if we can get a good result that will set us up for the other two.”