BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop expects Juan Luis Anangonó to continue to make a difference if he gets the nod to replace the suspended Quincy Amarikwa when the Men in Red host Real Salt Lake at Toyota Park on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
Amarikwa, the Fire's top scorer this year, has impressed with four goals despite the team failing to register a win in seven games, with their record-equaling run of six tied games seeing them sitting in last place in the Eastern Conference.
The 26-year-old was shown two contentious yellow cards, and a subsequent red, during Chicago's 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution last month, and Yallop admitted his side will miss the big striker.
“He had a very good preseason and has followed that right through so we’re going to miss his energy,” Yallop told MLSsoccer.com at training on Friday morning. “But whoever we pick up top, it might be Juan, it might be someone else, they’ll do the same. It’s a team game so it’s an opportunity for other players to get a chance and play well.”
Yallop has a couple of options with the likes of Anangonó and Benji Joya ready to come in alongside reigning MLS MVP Mike Magee, with Anangonó the obvious choice having made some telling contributions despite limited playing time thus far. The Ecuadorian Designated Player was a handful in his 20-minute cameo against the Revs, despite missing a potential game-winning penalty kick in the last minute of the game.
“What I like about Juan is that he has made a difference in the games he has come on as a sub," said Yallop, and if he gets to play – I’m not going to tell you my lineup – but if he plays, he deserves to get a chance.
“What’s good about him is he has made an impact when he’s come on the field, other than the penalty kick he missed, but that’s water under the bridge, we move on and hopefully he can do well if he gets to play.”
Anangonó offers something different to the more physical Amarikwa with his pace and clever running, and Yallop is hoping that allows him to hit the ground running against RSL. In his most recent match action, he hit a brace in a 3-2 Reserve League win over the USL PRO's Charlotte Eagles last week.
“Juan runs behind really well, he scored two good goals in the Reserve game against Charlotte and he did very well,” he added. “Whether he is on the bench or starting, he has the confidence now to come into games and make a difference, so let’s hope he can do that on Saturday.”
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Magee agreed that losing Amarikwa was a blow to the Fire, but believes the club’s improved strength in depth should see them cope well without him.
“Obviously missing Quincy hurts us,” he admitted. “He’s been great, but Frank and the coaching staff have done an amazing job in getting some depth and the guys are looking hungry and sharp this week, so I’d say there are three or four guys fighting for that spot.”