Fire takes Pappa shot, but success unlikely
BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media January 30, 2014 8:09PM
FC Dallas v Chicago Fire
Updated: March 3, 2014 5:01PM
There was some hope the Fire could reacquire midfielder Marco Pappa. After listening to coach Frank Yallop on Thursday, that move looks unlikely but not impossible.
Pappa, whom the Fire sold in 2012, was a free agent after being released this month by Dutch club Heerenveen SC. He has signed with MLS and is subject to the league’s allocation order.
And that’s the problem. The Seattle Sounders have the top spot and have until Friday to decide whether to pick up Pappa, 26. During a conference call from the team’s training camp in Ave Maria, Fla., Yallop made it sound as if the cost of moving up is prohibitive, though “it’s not from a lack of trying.”
“For the value of that slot, they’re asking way too much from us to get that,” Yallop said. “[It’s something] we won’t be doing at this point, but things change. You never know, but we tried our best to move up and tried our best for Marco, but it doesn’t look too good right now.”
With or without Pappa, Yallop is in the midst of his first training camp with the Fire after replacing Frank Klopas, and he’s busy implementing changes. The Fire (14-13-7 last season) finished strong and barely missed the playoffs in 2013.
“I think the big thing is getting used to the methods that are new to the players,” Yallop said. “For myself and the coaching staff, that’s important. Making sure they’re all on board and all ready and able to implement what we want off the field, on the field.”
Yallop and the Fire are off to a good start, which would be a welcome change. The Fire won only one of its first six games last year and never quite overcame that, missing out on the playoffs on the last day of the season.
Perhaps lack of conditioning was the reason, though Yallop didn’t want to speculate on that.
“I can’t comment on what they did last preseason because it’s irrelevant,’’ Yallop said. ‘‘At this point, it’s what I do and what we do moving forward. I feel very confident [on] opening day we’ll be 100 percent fit.”
Of course, the Fire won’t be there yet Sunday, when it opens its preseason against Florida Gulf Coast University. Regardless, Yallop likes his team’s progress.
“I’m really happy with the first couple of days; guys have been coming in in pretty good shape,” he said. “They worked hard in the offseason like I asked them to do, and [they’ve] come back in good spirits and in good shape.”