Fire not content to die and tie this season
BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media August 8, 2014 9:44PM
Harry Shipp (right) and the Fire stomached their 13th tie of the season last weekend. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Updated: September 11, 2014 6:35AM
Even with their three wins, 13 ties and lack of activity before the transfer window closed, the Fire insist their season isn’t over and there’s no reason to look to next year.
‘‘I’ll never concede anytime,’’ Fire coach Frank Yallop said. ‘‘We’ve been pretty close in a lot of games.’’
As those 13 ties suggest, Yallop is right. The Fire aren’t losing games — their five defeats are tied for the fewest in the Eastern Conference — but they aren’t winning many, either, and enter this weekend five points out of a playoff spot. Adding some pieces beyond midfielder Razvan Cocis would have helped toward getting more victories, but now the Fire (22 points) will have to hope to add a free agent such as Jermaine Jones before the roster freeze next month.
If they don’t, they’ll have to make a run to the playoffs with the wobbly and shallow roster that has gotten them into the position they’re in now, starting with Sunday’s game against the visiting New York Red Bulls (6-6-10, 28 points).
‘‘We’re not ready to kind of push on as we go, but a run of games gets us right back in the picture,’’ Yallop said. ‘‘Never give up on a season because it can change quickly.’’
That’s what the Fire have to hope for or else they’ll miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, with questions about the direction of the franchise only intensifying. Even with 13 games left, after so many ties and squandered victories, they find themselves in must-win territory.
‘‘I think any game now is a must-win game — honestly, I think we consider last weekend [a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew] a must-win game,’’ midfielder Harry Shipp said. ‘‘That’s how we’ve approached every week, especially the second half of the year since the World Cup break.’’
This weekend, the Fire have to beat a talented Red Bulls team featuring all-stars Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Maybe it’ll help that while the Red Bulls’ three best players were in an exhibition Wednesday with Bayern Munich, the Fire were resting since they had no all-stars. But that gets back to a lack of talent and depth they haven’t fixed this summer and that has them on the outside of the playoff race.
Like his coach, Shipp isn’t giving up on 2014.
‘‘It’s kind of like one game can turn our season around,’’ Shipp said. ‘‘We get two wins in a row, we’re right back in the playoffs, so that’s how tight it is.’’