BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – After enduring a first half in which the Chicago Fire played second fiddle to a rampant Houston Dynamo, head coach Frank Yallop was delighted with his side’s second half response after his half-time dressing down of the players.
The Fire trailed 1-0 at the break and were looking down the barrel of a convincing home defeat if the one-sided pattern persisted, but his halftime team talk reenergized the team, as they went on to steal a late 2-1 victory with goals from Jeff Larentowicz and Florent Sinama-Pongolle.
“I had a pop at the guys at halftime because I think we came out, last game, nothing at stake, don’t get injured, don’t really express yourself,” a relaxed Yallop told reporters at the post-match press conference.
“So I had a pop at them at halftime and I loved the response in the second half,” he added. “That was good, winning’s nice, obviously, and I thought in the end it was an evenish game, they had a few chances, but I think we kind of deserved to win.
"It was nice to send the fans, hopefully, home semi-happy, not with the season, but with the result and we’re going to gear up and look forward to next season.”
Fire veteran Logan Pause was a central figure to the night’s proceedings, ending his 12-year stretch with the club and given an emotional send-off by the club, his teammates and the Fire fans.
The versatile midfielder’s name rang throughout the stands throughout and the 33-year-old left to a standing ovation in the 79th minute before saying his final goodbye to the fans and a lap of honor after the final whistle.
“It was an emotional night for everybody, he was on edge and showing his emotions before the game and obviously during and then after,” Yallop said of Pause. “But it’s tough when you end your career, such a career he’s had, it’s never easy but it was really nice to send him off with a win. I think it was fitting that we won the game on Logan’s last game.”
The Fire were much improved in the second half, almost mirroring Houston’s first half dominance to finish the game with 14 attempts on goal apiece. Houston had nine shots to Chicago’s five in the first half, and but for the astute positioning and handling of goalkeeper Sean Johnson, they would have been further behind at the break.
And while he admitted it was good to get the club’s sixth win of a disappointing season, captain Larentowicz said the victory was “bittersweet.”
“It was good [to get the win], however it feels bittersweet because to do it in the last game doesn’t mean that much,” Larentowicz, sporting a nasty gash above his right eye after a clash of heads during the game with Pause, said.
“There were so many opportunities [during the season] similar to tonight where we should have taken advantage. However, it’s a good night, it’s a positive night and I don’t want to think about that. [Florent] scored a good goal, Logan had a big night, played well and the team won.”