BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Two goals in two games has been the perfect start for Robert Earnshaw to announce himself as a Chicago Fire player.
The Welsh international striker arrived to little fanfare, as his acquisition was somewhat overshadowed by the on-off Jermaine Jones transfer saga. However, the 33-year-old Earnshaw has played a pivotal role as the Fire have claimed four points in the two games since he joined the team on a free transfer two weeks ago, and, surprisingly for the diminutive forward, both have been with his head.
“I’m 5’6”, so my advantage is I’ve got to use my brain, I’ve got to use my timing, see what’s around me and be aware of the space,” Earnshaw told reporters after his 83rd-minute header guided the Fire to a 1-0 victory over high-flying FC Dallas on Saturday. “And if I can get the space, I can get the headers and that’s the key. For me, it’s just about my movement and if I can get my movement right and the ball comes in at the right time – I’ve got two headers in two weeks – so that’s great for me.”
Earnshaw headed a 70th-minute equalizer on his debut against former club Toronto FC last weekend, and positioned himself perfectly to glance home Jeff Larentowicz’s cross at Toyota Park on Saturday night to give the Fire (5-6-14, 29 pts) all three points and their fifth win of the campaign.
Despite the expected attention his immediate impact has attracted, the likeable frontman was quick to recognize his teammates, who, once again, worked tirelessly to provide Earnshaw with the chances to become a late game-changer off the bench.
“I’ve got to actually pay tribute to the team, because it’s good that I’ve come on the last two weeks and scored, but the team has done a lot of hard work just to get to that point where it allows me to get in front and score a goal,” he said. “The last two weeks since I’ve been here, I’ve noticed a real team work ethic and that’s why we’ve got points the last two weeks.”
Head coach Frank Yallop was glowing in his praise of his new signing, whose clinical finishing has softened the blow of not landing prime summer target Jones.
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“Every time you make a signing you hope it works out and they settle in pretty quickly,” Yallop said after the game. “Impact-wise he’s been very key to us the last two games, so hopefully that will continue. If you look at Robbie’s goal-scoring record it’s very good and he knows how to score goals. Give him the service and he’ll put it in the net, so I’m not surprised but I’m very happy.”
And while Earnshaw himself believes he will need one or two starts to get up to 100 percent match fitness, Yallop hinted that the striker may have to be content with a role as a second-half impact sub.
“Moving clubs is never easy, but if you look at Robbie’s record already, two goals in two games is amazing, and off the bench too,” he added. “He might not like this but maybe it’s his role. But I’m very happy for him, he’s a great kid, he works hard and he’s clued in to what we want to do.”