Cold starts have stalled Fire
The Chicago Fire knows there is more than 3 points at stake in Saturday's home opener against Vancouver.
After last week's 2-0 loss at Los Angeles, the Fire would love a do-over for its season opener. Considering it has just one playoff appearance in the last five seasons, the team needs to convince its fans it can be a contender.
"My two years here so far we've had rough starts to the season that's put us in a hole," said Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, recalling the 2013 season when the club lost the final playoff spot on a tiebreaker. "Any point is important, but at this point it's a home opener, an exciting day. We'll be coming out flying."
Tickets are still available for the game (5 p.m., Comcast SportsNet), and the weather forecast looks favorable.
"I'm excited just to play well on the weekend," Fire coach and director of soccer Frank Yallop said after training Thursday morning. "We're going to expect or look for 3 points, because that's what you've got to get. We've got to get back on track and look forward to our next game, which is San Jose away. But big game on Saturday vs. Vancouver, for sure."
"You have to play well, period," Larentowicz added. "You have to play well. The game in L.A. was flat. It wasn't good. Myself included. I made a mistake for a goal, and that's something we need to rectify."
Help on the way?:
A goal.com report Thursday afternoon said the Fire has signed Spanish midfielder Victor Perez, 27, on loan from Levante until June 30. It appears to be true.
The deal includes options for a six-month extension followed by a one-year extension, the report said.
Perez can not be considered a designated player because the Fire has filled all three DP slots on its roster. The report said the Fire will "pay only a fraction of his wages."
New designated player David Accam will miss a second straight game while recovering from a preseason groin injury. He hopes to return next week at San Jose. Accam trained on the side Wednesday and Thursday and needs to improve his fitness, Frank Yallop said.
"I'm feeling great," the Ghanaian added.
Fellow DP Kennedy Igboananike should be ready to play after leaving last week's game early due to injury.
"He's trained today," Yallop said. "It seemed like he did well, but he came off with a cramp and a bit of a calf strain."
Midfielder Razvan Cocis will be out at least another two weeks and possible four weeks with plantar fascitis, Yallop said.
Brazilian defender Adailton is back after a preseason concussion.
The negotiations between Major League Soccer and its players union on a new collective bargaining agreement made for a rough week leading up to last week's season opener at Los Angeles for Jeff Larentowicz.
Larentowicz, a member of the union's executive board, left the club the Sunday before the game to go to Washington, D.C., for negotiations. In a hurry to leave town to beat a snowstorm after the sides reached a deal, he flew to Minneapolis on Wednesday night, then to L.A. on Thursday morning.
"It was a long week. It was a difficult week," he said.
Larentowicz said he feels much better now having had a full week of training, a regular sleep schedule and time with his family.
And the pitch:
Thursday's training session inside Toyota Park was closed to the media in its entirety -- an unusual step -- but Jeff Larentowicz and coach Frank Yallop reported that the field is fine, a big improvement over last year.
"It looks OK," the captain said. "You know, it's March in Chicago. There's not much you can do. But it's good that the club has taken steps to re-lay the surface and get started on the right foot, because last year I don't feel we ever did. It looks all right. It's brown, but that's expected."
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