BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop admitted ahead of Sunday’s clash with the New York Red Bulls that it was “make-or-break” time for his team.
Judging by the Fire’s response, on which Yallop heaped high praise, they’re not ready to break just yet.
Their 1-0 victory over the Red Bulls at Toyota Park on the back of a 38th-minute Mike Magee goal from a rebound of his own penalty kick attempt was one to savor for the Fire, who have now won just twice at home in 11 tries and just four times all season.
“I thought we had a mature, professional performance and it’s finally good to get a win,” Yallop told reporters after the match. “I’m really proud of the guys, the way they’ve hung in there and not lost focus. We’re not a bad side, we’re still growing and it’s easy to chuck the towel in and get complacent and turn on each other. But the performance tonight was a fighting, solid, really good home performance that deserved the win, and I was very proud of our guys.”
Despite giving up 60 percent of the possession to the visitors, Yallop’s charges produced an assured defensive display, allied to some potency in attack, to take all three points and keep their season very much alive.
In an entertaining game in which both sides attacked with intent, the home side always looked the more dangerous in the final third without making their pressure count on the score sheet.
“I think tonight was a pretty even game, but I think we edged it, and I felt like we looked like we wanted to win it. And that was good from our side,” Yallop said. “Taking nothing away from the Red Bulls, it’s nothing to do with what they did, but I felt our guys showed and were determined to try and win that game.”
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Despite just four wins this year, the Fire find themselves a mere two points off a playoff position with a game in hand on some of the rivals ahead of them, including Columbus, New York and Philadelphia. And with a US Open Cup semifinal clash in Seattle coming up on Wednesday, a once despondent season is now showing significantly more promise.
“I think you’ve seen a team that’s not quit, not turned on themselves, like I’ve seen in other seasons where it goes south quickly,” Yallop said. “This group has not done that, and I feel confident that we can do OK this year. Where we end up, I don’t know; we’ve got a bit of catching up to do, but I think to get through to a semifinal of a cup and now we’re two or three points off the playoff, with a game in hand, which is good.”