Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop praises performance of youngsters in home draw

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Head coach Frank Yallop praised the impact made by his young Chicago Fire players following Sunday's 1-1 tie with the LA Galaxy, despite the team failing to add to their two wins by drawing their seventh match of the campaign.

Midfielder Chris Ritter made his MLS debut and joined Harry Shipp in the starting XI as the Fire started two homegrown players for the first time. And, aside from a second half misplayed pass which led to Landon Donovan's tying goal, Ritter obliged with an accomplished display alongside captain Jeff Larentowicz in the center of midfield.

“I thought we played really well today," Yallop told reporters after the game. "I thought we had some great individual performances from a lot of the young guys playing and other than one mistake I thought we thoroughly deserved to win.

“Obviously, it’s very frustrating points wise, but very encouraging performance wise today. Chris Ritter comes in and plays his first game and I thought he was excellent, Grant Ward gets his first start and was very dominant and played well. And I thought Harry Shipp in a different position was very good.”

The Fire restricted Bruce Arena’s men to very few clear-cut chances, with Sean Johnson rarely called upon in the Chicago goal. Meanwhile, despite several changes in personnel, the Fire continued to pose a threat offensively and perhaps should have had more to show for their efforts.

“I have spoken before about the balance not being quite right, but I thought the balance was good today,” Yallop added. “I think we created enough chances to win the game, we limited them to not many good looks, and whether that was Chris or the system we played, we looked solid and I liked it. I was very happy with Chris’ performance and I was very happy with the whole demeanor we had and the way we went about it.”

Ritter, from Winnetka, Illinois, was relatively happy with his debut performance but admitted getting punished for that rare misplaced pass will be a key learning experience in his development.

“It was an exciting day for sure, getting your first start and making your debut is certainly a special day,” Ritter, 23, said. “The game didn’t go the way we wanted it to and I feel at fault for the one goal, but it’s a learning experience and there are plenty more games this season to make it up.”

Ritter joined Shipp as another Homegrown player into Yallop’s first team plans.

“It’s definitely exciting," said the Northwestern grad. "Harry’s done a great job this year and I’m just trying to follow in his footsteps. It’s fun to be out there with Harry, a guy I know pretty well and spend some time with off the field, so it’s definitely a special moment.” 

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