Fire may look at Jeff Larentowicz at center back
BY BRIAN SANDALOW For Sun-Times Media July 29, 2014 9:47PM
BRIDGEVIEW, IL - JULY 26: Lewis Holtby #14 of Tottenham Hotspur (R) steals the ball from \Jeff Larentowicz #20 of Chicago Fire during the first half at Toyota Park on July 26, 2014 in Bridgeview, Illinois. Holtby was able to pass the ball to teammate Harry Kane who scored a goal. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Updated: July 29, 2014 11:34PM
Lost in the fleeting excitement of Brad Friedel possibly appearing in his North American finale against them, the Fire might have made some moves Saturday night that actually have an impact on their season.
Normally a midfielder, captain Jeff Larentowicz started at center back along with Patrick Ianni in the Fire’s 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur. Larentowicz hadn’t started there since September, and it showed when his turnover led directly to Harry Kane’s fifth-minute goal.
But the move by coach Frank Yallop left plenty to think about ahead of the game Wednesday against the Vancouver Whitecaps (6-4-10, 28 points).
After the Fire’s 5-1 loss last Wednesday in San Jose, California, in which Yallop’s former team humbled them on national TV, things couldn’t get much worse. They yielded five goals in the last 46 minutes and gave up five goals for the first time since Oct. 27, 2013, when the New York Red Bulls ended their playoff hopes with a 5-2 defeat that led to the departure of coach Frank Klopas.
Then Saturday, center backs Bakary Soumare and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, who started against the San Jose Earthquakes, didn’t play until the Fire brought in their substitutes in the second half against Tottenham. By then, it was clear the move wasn’t made just
because it was a friendly. There was more to it.
“I just wanted to look at Jeff there,” Yallop said Saturday night. “Obviously, we got beat 5-1, so it’s different combinations I’m looking at and different things. So, you know, it’s my prerogative to look at stuff and try to work on stuff and see what could be a different scene for us.”
Before that loss to the Earthquakes, the Fire (3-5-11,
20 points) appeared to be making progress. They had
been unbeaten in four games, and their leaky defense seemed to be improving enough to ease some concerns about the group.
That clearly didn’t last, and it compelled Yallop to shift his captain back a few yards and bench two of his starters in a game that might help the Fire heal from one of their worst nights.
“We’ve just got to let the result in San Jose go,” Yallop said Saturday. “It was a bit of a surprise, and it shocked me, to be honest, and I’m just finally getting over it tonight with a decent performance against a very good team.”
NOTE: The Fire traded midfielder Dilly Duka on Tuesday to the Montreal Impact for midfielder Sanna
Nyassi. Duka, 24, was
acquired from the Columbus Crew on Feb. 1, 2013, for Dominic Oduro and made
31 appearances last season. But Duka struggled with
injuries and made only six appearances and three starts this season.
Nyassi, 25, hadn’t
appeared in a game for the Impact since May 24.